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A Bronx lawmaker recorded a behind-the-scenes Zoom conference fight involving Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie — and was barred from a follow-up meeting when the video emerged with his face in the corner, The Post has learned.
Assemblyman Jose Rivera (D-The Bronx) — a longtime Heastie rival — is also facing possible expulsion from the Assembly’s Democratic caucus for breaching the secrecy of its annual, pre-legislative-session gathering, sources said Tuesday.
The annual, two-day event is normally held in a conference room behind the Assembly chamber in Albany’s Capitol building or at a local hotel but took place online this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday night, a 49-second clip of Heastie (D-The Bronx) arguing with Assemblyman Charles Barron (D-Brooklyn) was leaked to political commentator Gerson Borrero, who posted it on Twitter.
During the heated exchange, Barron said he needed to publicly explain why he cast the lone vote against nominating Heastie for another term as speaker — prompting Heastie to angrily exclaim, “Put out a statement for however you feel!” before muting Barron’s microphone.
At several points, the camera that recorded the video shifts slightly and shows Rivera in a small window in the lower right-hand corner of the screen.
One source said the 84-year-old former trade-union activist deserved a “Knucklehead of the Year Award” for failing to hide his identity before the video was leaked.
An Assembly Democrat said the meeting “is supposed to be private,” and another said that “people are livid” over Rivera’s actions.
In retaliation, Heastie barred Rivera from participating in Tuesday’s session and Assemblyman Gary Pretlow (D-Mount Vernon) is pushing to have Rivera expelled from their party’s caucus, sources said.
That move could affect Rivera’s ability to dole out pork-barrel grants and pass legislation, sources said.
Pretlow didn’t deny that he wanted to see Rivera ousted and said it “absolutely” could happen.
“Members want to know they can say what’s on their mind in conference,” he said.
“We don’t want members having a fear of speaking out because someone’s going to tell.”
Rivera — who frequently posts cellphone videos to Facebook and often carries a selfie stick in the Assembly chamber — acknowledged recording the dust-up between Heastie and Barron, calling it “an exciting moment.”
He also didn’t deny leaking the video to Borrero.
“The people have a right to see us in action in the Assembly,” he said.
“I will continue to speak up for transparency.”
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