City Council votes to dethrone King
Oct 06, 2020 | 7601 views | 0 0 comments | 1013 1013 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City Council mad a dubious first in its history on Monday when it voted to boot one of its own out of office.

By a vote of 48-2, members decided to remove Councilman Andy King of the Bronx from office after several ethics violations. It’s not the first time King has been warned. Last year, the City Council voted 44-1 to suspend King for 30 days, but a motion to expel him was defeated 34-12.

It is believed to be the first time a City Council member has been removed from office through a vote, although other members have been automatically expelled after being convicted of a crime.

King has already filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, arguing that his punishment was too severe considering he has never been convicted of a crime. He said it was made in part because he is a Black man.

This is the councilman’s third ethics violation.

“Councilman King’s behavior is unfixable,” said Speaker Corey Johnson during the hearing, which was held via Zoom.

King was accused by a female staff member of making her uncomfortable by asking her to wear a gown to a fundraising gala and holding her hand for too long.

Another female staffer said King told her to “put a Band-Aid on it” when she said she needed to leave an event to go to the hospital for menstrual bleeding. King claims he didn’t realize exactly what she was talking about.

And he allegedly gave another staffer a $9,500 bonus, but required that $2,000 be given back to him.

King was fined $15,000 for that violation, which he never paid, arguing that he should be given a credit for the pay he lost during his suspension.

King was also accused of using City Council funds to plan a retreat in the Virgin Islands that coincidentally took place the same time as the wedding of his wife’s daughter. King tried to thwart the investigation by threatening and firing staff members who were cooperating.

King won his seat after his predecessor, Larry Seabrook, was convicted in 2012 of a corruption scheme that funneled city funds - hundreds of thousands of dollars in city funds, actually – to relatives, friends and even a girlfriend.

It seems this Bronx council seat is no stranger to shady dealings.

And in case you were wondering how the vote came to be 48-2, King voted against expelling himself, but so did fellow Bronx councilman Ruben Diaz, Sr.

Maybe it’s because Diaz is sympathetic to people who have been accused of ethics violations, as he himself has been a lightning rod for such charges, that he chose to support King.

Most recently, he was accused of taking illegal corporate contributions during his campaign this year to replace Jose Serrano in the House of Representatives.

Food delivery service giant Fresh Direct has been donating boxes of food to the offices of the five borough presidents in the city to help feed people during the coronavirus pandemic, and Diaz’s son, Ruben Diaz, Jr., just happens to be Bronx borough president.

Allegedly, some of those boxes of food were given to his father, who distributed them at sites outside of his City Council district, but within the congressional district he hoped to win.

Critics argued the food distribution events doubled as campaign events to promote the elder Diaz. Diaz eventually lost the Democratic Primary to Ritchie Torres.

And like King, it’s not the first time Diaz, Sr. has found himself battling charges of ethics violations. In 2013, the head of two nonprofits tied to the councilman, who was then in the State Senate, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $500,000 from them.

Diaz has announced that he will be leaving the City Council at the end of the year, so he likely didn’t fear any backlash by going against every other City Council member in his support of King. But then, he’s never really been too concerned about that.

In 2018, the Ethics Committee found that he violated rules by using his official City Council email address to send out political messages, including one that accused Comptroller Scott Stringer of disliking Latinos, “especially Dominicans.”

The next year, his fellow council members called on him to resign after he said the “homosexual community” controlled the City Council, even though only five of its 51 members are openly gay.

After his comments generated controversy, Diaz tried to walk them back, stating that it was meant as a compliment, and that he was just “giving them credit for the power and influence they have.”

But back to King, there will now be a special election to choose someone to serve out the rest of his term in office. We wonder what fine upstanding citizen from District 12 will heed the call to the greater good of public service this time around.
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