The New York City Council's Committee On Standards and Ethics took the rare step of recommending expelling Bronx Councilmember Andy King from the City Council, following another lengthy investigation into allegations of inappropriate comments, taking bribes, and skirting a $15,000 fine from another prior investigation.
The recommendation to formally expel King now moves to the full body, where members can vote as early as October 15th when the City Council convenes again. Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who fully supported penalties for King in prior investigations, is on board with expelling King.
“This is the third time this committee has had to discipline the Council Member, and yet he continues to show a blatant disregard for the rules and policies put in place to protect staff and the integrity of this body," said Johnson.
On Tuesday, the chair of the committee, Councilmember Steven Matteo of Staten Island, said the committee did not arrive at its decision lightly, adding it afforded King as much due process as possible.
The committee determined King had violated the Council's conflicts of interest laws after asking for a $2,000 kickback from a staffer, and ignored a previously issued $15,000 penalty for a 2019 harassment and conflicts of interest investigation that resulted in a 30-day suspension and an office monitor. He has yet to pay for the fine despite being offered a payment plan, said Matteo.
The committee also substantiated a harassment claim against King, which alleged that he made inappropriate comments to a female staffer in September 2017.
“In response to the female staffer’s informing Councilmember King that she needed to seek emergency medical treatment from menstrual bleeding, Council member King treated her condition as a joke and made the discriminatory comment to ‘put a band-aid on it,’" Matteo said. “He forced the staffer to take unnecessary, unwanted, indefinite, and unpaid medical leave, which he described as ‘putting her out,’ blaming her because she allegedly talked to others about her medical condition.”
The committee also found King was trying to circumvent the monitor -- tasked to look over day-to-day decision making at his East Gun Hill Road office -- by attempting to make those decisions himself, said Matteo.
And King allegedly attempted to get a $2,000 cut from a $9,500 one-time payment he gave to a staffer last year, Matteo said.
King, 58, did not immediately respond for comment. In a TV interview in December 2019, King strongly denied the allegations, saying he's a victim of character assassination and comparing the investigation to a "lynching."
"This committee finds the situation to be beyond remediation and therefore finds no alternative but to recommend expulsion," said Matteo. Among the Councilmembers on the committee is King's Bronx colleague, Vanessa Gibson, who voted in favor of expulsion.
The news on the expulsion caps two years of investigations for King, a flamboyant legislator known for his colorful suits and cultivating a God-fearing persona. King came into office in 2013 after winning a special election triggered after his predecessor, Larry Seabrook, was found guilty of corruption.
King was first investigated in 2018 for telling a staffer to “wear something nice” for an event, forcing him to undergo sensitivity training he ultimately never went to. Last year the ethics committee found he had intimidated staffers not to cooperate with the initial 2018 investigation. He was also investigated for allowing Neva Shillingford-King, his wife who had worked as an executive for 1199-SEIU, to carry out Council business inside the local office on East Gun Hill Road.
"Last year this Committee made every effort to provide Council Member King the chance to rehabilitate himself and remediate the hostile and unacceptable situation in his office, but he frustrated all of these efforts, including by refusing to cooperate with the monitor in any meaningful way and disrespecting her," Matteo said.
The last time the City Council moved to expel a member was in 1949, when Councilmember Benjamin Davis, a communist, was convicted of conspiring to overthrow the federal government.