He wasn’t just a creep.
Bronx Councilman Andy King — already sanctioned over “unwanted attention” he paid to a female staffer — used his staff and taxpayer funds to help organize his stepdaughter’s Virgin Islands wedding and bolster his wife’s personal business interests, a blistering new ethics report found.
His staff told the City Council’s Standards and Ethics committee that King used his staff to organize a 2017 island “retreat” where his step-daughter’s wedding was listed on the itinerary — including drafting letters, invitations and flyers for the powwow.
That wasn’t the only thing on the agenda.
The Bronx Democrat also used the “retreat” to “promote” the “personal, reputational, and business-related interests” of his wife, Neva Shillingford-King, an executive vice president at union Local 1199 SEIU.
And his staffers told the investigating committee that King used the City Council’s payroll system to help cover the cost of at least one staffer attending the retreat in St. Thomas.
“This testimony and documentary evidence admitted at the [h]earing supports a finding that Council Member King improperly used Council funds to subsidize non-Council related travel expenses,” according to the 48-page report provided to the Council under seal late Tuesday.
The document also vividly details King’s campaign of retaliation against staffers who reported his conduct, allegations of self-dealing and other wrongdoing — including comparing a photo taken at New York’s gay pride parade to “child pornography.”
It recommends that King be suspended without pay for 30 days, lose all of his committee assignments, pay a $15,000 fine and shield his staff from future abuse by putting an independent monitor in charge of his office.
The City Council is set to vote on the proposed punishments as early as next week.
It’s the second time in two years King fell into the crosshairs of the Council’s ethics watchdog, thanks to two intertwined sets of allegations.
The first probe traces back to a December 2017 complaint brought by a member of King’s staff that reported the councilman for alleged sexual harassment in the workplace. The ethics committee admonished King in early 2018 and made him attend sensitivity training.
But in the aftermath of the 2017 complaint, King launched a campaign to intimidate the staffer who reported his behavior — laying the groundwork for the second probe that began in early 2019 and concluded with the punishment recommendations Tuesday.
The report also details how King “allowed the lines between personal and familiar interests and his Council duties to become impermissibly and completely blurred,” which “resulted in Council staffers and Council resources being used to personally benefit” himself and his wife, Shillingford-King.
In addition, the Ethics Committee found that King allowed Shillingford-King to “essentially help run his office” and use his Council staff to do work for her union, Local 1199.
King directed his staff to prominently feature his wife in a newsletter his office sent to local newspapers and to use his office’s social media accounts to tout an award she won.
Additionally, the ethics panel determined that King violated harassment policies in June 2015 by comparing a photo of Council members Corey Johnson and Rosie Mendez dancing at New York’s gay pride parade to child porn.
He made the remark during a staff meeting to a subordinate who mistakenly posted a photo from the annual event to his Twitter account, telling the person that “I don’t approve of this behavior… to me, this is the same as child pornography,” the report found.
“By making such an egregious statement at a staff meeting, the Committee finds that Council Member King engaged in harassment on the basis of sexual orientation and/or gender identification.”
King’s office did not immediately return a request for comment.
Source: Read Full Article