On Monday afternoon, the City Council voted to suspend Bronx Councilmember Andy King for 30 days and fine him $15,000, after a report substantiated claims that King had committed a litany of offenses, including spending taxpayer money on a retreat to the Virgin Islands, making homophobic remarks, and retaliating against staff who made complaints against him.
"When you're serving Christ, agendas get placed on you and people come after you," King told reporters after the vote, denying any wrongdoing. "Someone said, 'You know councilman, you are guilty. You are guilty of being too kind. You're guilty of being nice. You're guilty of being caring,'" King said.
Last week, the Council's Committee on Standards and Ethics compiled a 48-page report that detailed King’s homophobic remarks (he allegedly compared a photo of a gay pride march to child pornography), and his use of public money to benefit his wife’s work for 1199 SEIU. According to the report, King also spent taxpayer money on a retreat in the Virgin Islands that included the wedding of his wife’s daughter.
In 2017, King was found to have harassed a female staffer who came forward to complain, and was forced to undergo sensitivity training. The report stated that staffers who participated in the 2017 probe were retaliated against, and one was forced out of his office.
The vote to suspend passed 44-1, with King voting against it. Brooklyn Councilmembers Inez Barron and I. Daneek Miller abstained. In addition to the 30-day suspension and fine, King will be removed from the six committees he sits on and the Juvenile Justice committee that he chairs. A permanent monitor will watch over his office, and he will be forced to undergo "appropriate training" at his own expense.
King's attorneys have filed a motion for a temporary restraining order against the Council's vote. A judge denied it but the parties are due back in court in December.
Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer introduced a motion from the floor to expel King from the council altogether, but it failed on what some councilmembers said was procedural grounds.
The staffer who accused King of harassment in 2017, Chloë Rivera, wrote an op/ed in the Daily News on Monday calling on the council to remove King from office.
Rivera told Gothamist that she was disappointed that King will keep his seat, but "pleased that he will be facing some sort of consequences for his behavior."
"The current sanctions that passed do not address the root of the problem of sexual harassment or harassment in general, which is about power dynamics," Rivera said. "He's going to be back in office at some point. And I will eventually end up in an elevator with him again."
Additional reporting from Brigid Bergin.