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Bronx Councilman Andy King accused of trying to retaliate against employees after city council charged him with sexual harassment and other ethics violations

2019-09-05

New York City Councilman Andy King on February 3, 2017. (Bryan Pace/for New York Daily News)

Councilman Andy King tried to retaliate against staff after the City Council charged him with sexual harassment and other ethics violations last month, according to the committee investigating his conduct.

King (D-Bronx) was already charged with retaliation, disorderly conduct, conflict of interest violations and sexual harassment on Aug. 21, but the Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee accused him of new incidents of bad behavior on Thursday.

“Since this committee’s last meeting…it has come to our attention that that Council member King has engaged in additional retaliatory behavior against staff members and additional Conflict of Interest violations,” said Councilman Steven Matteo (R-Staten Island), chair of the ethics committee, noting investigators “uncovered corroborating evidence.”

“Based upon this evidence, this committee has voted today to issue additional and superseding charges related to this retaliatory behavior,” Matteo said.

The Standards and Ethics Committee didn’t disclose details of the charges. Matteo wouldn’t say whether King had tried to fire staffers as part of his alleged retaliatory efforts.

The committee voted on the new allegations in a closed-door session that lasted just under 30 minutes. Matteo and Councilwomen Margaret Chin (D-Manhattan) and Karen Koslowitz (D-Queens) were the only committee members who attended, while Vanessa Gibson (D-Bronx) and Stephen Levin (D-Brooklyn) were absent.

On top of sexual harassment, King was accused of letting his wife — Neva Shillingford-King, the executive vice-president of Local 1199 SEIU — harass a staffer and misuse city resources.

And King allegedly let top staffers “repeatedly threaten violence in the office and at work functions,” Matteo said at the hearing last month. “On at least one occasion, an employee committed an act of violence against a subordinate employee.”

King allegedly “engaged in, encouraged, committed, condoned or failed to prevent conduct that violated certain laws of the city” between 2015 and 2019, according to Matteo.

The Council hired Carrie Cohen, a former assistant U.S. Attorney who led the corruption case against ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, to investigate the charges against King. She also handled Councilman Barry Grodenchik’s recent sexual harassment case.

How much Cohen will be paid for prosecuting cases against the two pols is unclear.

She’s responsible for presenting evidence in the Standards and Ethics Committee case against King. She will also present the case against him to the committee.

Cohen will present the case against King at a closed-door disciplinary proceeding scheduled for Sept. 13, when King can have an attorney present. Findings and recommendations will be made public after the hearing.

King could accept punishment, ending the disciplinary process and likely prevent the results of Cohen’s investigation from being released publicly. If he and the Ethics Committee can’t come to an agreement, the case could move to the full Council, which would make Cohen’s findings available to all members.

His chief of staff didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

The ethics committee already forced King to take take sensitivity and ethics training last year — costing taxpayers $3,500 — after a Council staffer accused him of giving her unwanted attention. The body substantiated the staffer’s complaints that he held her hand to force her to smile and asked her to show up to a winter ball so he could see her in a “beautiful gown."

Queens Democrat Grodenchik admitted to sexually harassing a staffer and resigned as chair of the Parks Committee in May.

He agreed to take sexual harassment training to avoid a full disciplinary hearing. Grodenchik’s now completed “specialized, multi-session training on preventing sexual harassment,” according to Matteo. Grodenchik paid for the training himself.