Dispatches From Albany
Banning Bad Things
Assemblyman Micah Kellner has been publicly admonished and stripped of his committee chairmanship following an Assembly Ethics and Guidance Committee investigation into allegations that he’d sexually harassed a female staffer in 2009.
In a vague letter released this evening by Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver’s office, the committee said comments made by Mr. Kellner in both 2009 and 2011 “together with other conduct, created a hostile work environment” that violated the Assembly’s sexual harassment policy.
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“This should be filed under the category of ‘How is this not a law already?’” Assemblyman Joe Borelli declared today.
Mr. Borelli, a Staten Island Republican, was reacting to today’s news that a federal judge recently dismissed a harassment suit filed by Lihuan Wang, a former intern at Phoenix Satellite Television’s New York bureau, because, as an unpaid intern, she apparently didn’t have standing in the case.
Staying on Board
Assemblyman Micah Kellner’s leading rival doesn’t want the Upper East Side to forget about his summer scandal as the two candidates battle for an open City Council seat.
In a new, biting campaign mailer, rival Ben Kallos blasts Mr. Kellner for admitting to sending inappropriate communications to a female staffer and allegations of even more misconduct. “Those around Kellner tried to bury the charges, keeping them secret for years as the harassment continued–a massive Albany cover-up over which one Assembly lawyer has already been forced to resign,” the mailer rages.
Just like magic, Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney can disappear and reappear again–at least on campaign mailings.
When Assemblyman Micah Kellner, now running for an Upper East Side City Council seat, confessed last month to inappropriate conduct with a former staffer years ago, many of his endorsers bailed. His campaign then awkwardly removed the supporters’ names, including Ms. Maloney’s, by covering them with white stickers. But now she’s back.
Assemblyman Micah Kellner’s campaign for Councilwoman Jessica Lappin’s Upper East Side seat just lost a few more supporters.
Joining Ms. Lappin, State Senators José Serrano and Brad Hoylman withdrew their support of Mr. Kellner following revelations that he had sexually harassed a former staffer.
“The news surrounding Assemblymember Micah Kellner is indeed troubling. In light of this news, I along with my colleague, Senator Brad Hoylman, will be rescinding our endorsements of Micah for the City Council seat he’s seeking,” Mr. Serrano said in an email to Politicker.
The controversy never seems to end in New York City politics.
Upper East Side Assemblyman Micah Kellner–one of the few Assembly Democrats to criticize Speaker Shelly Silver’s handling of the Vito Lopez scandal–is now facing sexual harassment allegations of his own.
The City Council candidate was allegedly the subject of a sexual harassment complaint made by a female staffer four years ago. But, according to the New York Times, the complaint was never referred to the Assembly’s ethics committee, prompting the dismissal of a top Assembly lawyer, Bill Collins.
At a Democratic club meeting in Queens last night, Councilman Danny Dromm said progressives should “thank God” for embattled Assembly Speaker Sheldon Speaker, not revile him.
“Thank God for Shelly Silver,” Mr. Dromm said to his group, the News Visions Democratic Club in Jackson Heights, when the discussion shifted to Albany politics. “A lot of conservative stuff that might have happened didn’t happen. I don’t know what his prospects are for the Assembly, but we’ll see.”
Hide your children
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was forced to try to assure parents that their daughters were safe working in Albany following a “disturbing” poll out yesterday that found most New Yorkers wouldn’t want their daughters to intern in the State Legislature after former Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s sexual harassment scandal.
“I want people to know that you can send your daughter to Albany,” Mr. Cuomo said during an appearance on The Capitol Pressroom with Susan Arbetter this morning, where he was once again forced to weigh in on the scandal and its aftermath.
A slim majority of New York voters think Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver should resign over his mishandling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal, according to a new poll out Wednesday, which also found most parents want their daughters steering clear of Albany.
The Quinnipiac poll found that 51 percent of those surveyed think Mr. Silver should step down from office, versus just 22 percent who feel he should remain. The feeling was especially high among men, suburban voters and Republicans.
Facing growing calls for his resignation, Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver, surrounded by an army of loyal supporters, apologized for his handling of the Vito Lopez allegations and announced a series of reforms to ensure, he said, that such mistakes will never be made again.
“I want New Yorkers to know I care deeply about this institution and its employees, that I remain dedicated to our core commission of protecting those who are most in need of a strong and caring government,” Mr. Silver told reporters at a press conference in Albany hours after Mr. Lopez officially resigned.