By Gloria Pazmino Manhattan |
Members of the City Council are debating whether to expel one of their own from office, following a damning report that found Councilman Andy King abused the powers of his office.
Council Speaker Corey Johnson, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Comptroller Scott Stringer have all called on King to step down.
But the embattled Bronx Democrat is preparing for a fight, and expecting to answer charges this weekend.
In statement, King’s attorney said the council member is “disappointed and takes the committee’s findings seriously. [He] denies all allegations and objects to the Committee’s findings. We disagree that the Councilman was uncooperative in this investigation. We will be considering all legal options to refute the Committee’s findings and Conclusions.”
The Council has a rich history of members who have faced criminal charges and eventual expulsion. It is not yet clear if any of King’s alleged behavior rises to the level of criminality, but the council submitted its findings to investigatory agencies for review.
In 1979, there was the case of Eugene Mastropieri, the Council’s Standards and Committee voted to expel him from office, but as members prepared to vote, there was outcry from good government groups who objected to overruling elections.
Democratic consultant and former aide to Mayor Koch George Arzt said accusations against the Queens councilman snowballed over several days.
“Conflict of Interest with clients and legislation including the pinball industry and an investigation into his behavior,” Arzt said.
Then there was Councilman Benjamin Davis, a former member of the communist party.
“He was in the council for 6 years and in 1949 11 communists were arrested and he was one of them and he was convicted for espousing the overthrow of the United States government,” Arzt added.
Council members who would not speak on Camera said they are grappling with the precedent setting consequences of ousting King.
Some of them pointed to council members in the past who have been accused of worse, including criminal behavior, yet were allowed to keep their seat.
In 2014, Councilman Ruben Wills was arrested for stealing campaign funds and filing false documents. The Council moved to censure him, removed him from all committees and cut access to funding while the case was heard by the courts. He was ultimately convicted.
“I don’t think anything he’s done has risen to expulsion. When you look at the previous people, I think there was actually a smoking gun and serious charges. These are serious charges but not yet criminality,” Arzt said.
Speaker Johnson’s tenure has seen other members disciplined.
Council member Barry Grodenchik was sanctioned by the Standards and Ethics committee while Adrienne Adams admitted to an ethics violation but faced no punishment. Council members Ruben Diaz Sr. and Kalman Yeger were both disciplined after making remarks that many considered bigoted.
The Council will hold a meeting on Monday and hold a vote on the already recommended disciplinary action against King.
It includes $15,000 dollar fine and the installation of an office monitor. Expulsion is not yet on the table.