Bronx lawmaker Andy King was kicked out of the New York City Council by his colleagues in a lopsided vote on October 5, concluding years of punishments and allegations that he sexually harassed and retaliated against his staff, sought illegal payouts, and compared LGBTQ Pride to pedophilia, among other charges.
King was expelled from the city’s lawmaking body by a 48-2 margin after all but one of his colleagues — Ruben Diaz, Sr. — opted to remove the disgraced politician from office. There were no abstentions and King was the only other “no” vote.
The full Council vote came a week after the Committee on Standards and Ethics unanimously advanced four fresh charges that included accusations that King failed to pay the $15,000 fine ordered by the Council last year, ignored other terms of the punishment handed down to him, retaliated against his staff, and took $2,000 from an employee who landed a payout.
Among the accusations lodged against King included a 2017 incident during which he allegedly laughed at an aide who said she needed to go to the emergency room for menstrual bleeding and told her to “put a Band-Aid on it.”
The charges cover just some of King’s alleged actions over the years, which also include blatant homophobia. The Ethics Committee’s report last year said King once said that LGBTQ Pride was “the same as child pornography” and told his aide he did not “approve of this behavior.”
King defended himself ahead of the full council vote that ultimately sealed his fate, arguing that he was a victim who was “dragged through the mud.” He accused others of targeting him based on race and, according to the New York Times, sued the city in federal court on the same day and claimed in the lawsuit that he faced racial discrimination.
The ousted lawmaker’s job was already in jeopardy last year following the emergence of the Ethics Committee’s explosive investigation that prompted out gay Queens Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer to initiate a motion to expel him, though that vote failed by a 34-12 margin.
Instead, the City Council suspended King for 30 days, hit him with a fine, stripped him of his committee assignments, and appointed a monitor tasked with overseeing him for the rest of his term in office.
This time around, his colleagues concluded that he failed to make amends after they gave him another opportunity. Out gay City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, who called on King to resign last year, described the lawmaker as “unfixable” in a clear indication that he had no other choice but to lead the Council in booting one of their own.
Van Bramer, meanwhile, issued a written statement detailing numerous allegations against King and said his colleagues should have acted sooner to remove him.
“Knowing all this, this body failed a test of leadership when it was clearly needed,” Van Bramer said, referring back to the vote he initiated last year. “When the staff of the Council looked to councilmembers to use our power to protect them. We failed miserably. Instead, this body voted to punish and merely monitor him… There are no excuses. Just an abdication of leadership.”
Manhattan City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who voted against expelling King last year, apologized for casting that vote and said she regretted that decision after speaking with King’s staff members.
“This ugly chapter in the Council’s history has demonstrated that the process by which we attempt to protect our workers is broken, and it is time to correct this mistake,” Rivera said in a written statement on October 5. “We must address the failures in our process for reporting and adjudicating misconduct which enable corruption and abuse to persist, and our failure to act continues to hurt our employees and our constituents. It must end.”
King’s departure now leaves an empty seat in District 12, which encompasses Eastchester, Wakefield, Williamsbridge, Co-Op City, Edenwald, and Baychester. A special election will eventually be scheduled to replace him.
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