Sexual Harassment Allegations Leveled Against Roosevelt Island's Assembly Member And City Council Candidate Micah Kellner By A Former Staffer - UPDATE - City Council Opponent Ben Kallos Responds To Harassment Allegations Against Kellner And Receives NOW NYC Endorsement, Lappin Withdraws Endorsement Of Kellner
Image From NY State Assembly
The NY Times reports today that Roosevelt Island's Assembly Member and NYC Council Candidate Micah Kellner was accused of sexual harassment by a junior staff member. According to the NY Times:
... Four years ago, a junior staff member in Assemblyman Micah Z. Kellner’s office complained to her supervisor that she was being harassed by Mr. Kellner, an Upper East Side Democrat. The supervisor, a top aide to Mr. Kellner, reported the matter to Bill Collins, who, as counsel to the majority party, ran the Assembly’s legal staff. The senior Kellner aide presented Mr. Collins with 15 pages of Internet chat transcripts, in which Mr. Kellner made suggestive remarks to the junior staff member, a woman in her early 20s who was new to the job.and:
Mr. Kellner encouraged the woman to play Scrabble with him on Facebook while conversing through the Google Talk Internet messaging service. In one exchange that took place well after midnight, Mr. Kellner told the woman that he had hired her because “you were cute during the interview.” He asked if she had a boyfriend and told her, “I guess secretly I didn’t want you to have one,” adding, “I like being the only man in your life” and “Don’t cheat on me.”
“I wouldn’t mind falling asleep with you but not remotely,” he wrote. “Did I offend?” ...
... There was no suggestion that the inappropriate behavior in either the 2009 or 2011 episodes was anything other than verbal in nature...Click here for the entire NY Times article.
I asked Mr. Kellner for a comment on the sexual harassment charge reported today in The NY Times. Mr. Kellner replied:
Over four years ago, for a few weeks while I was still single, I exchanged instant messages with a female member of my staff that were flirtatious. It was inappropriate. I was wrong and it was stupid. When I was told that my staffer felt the messages were unprofessional, I immediately stopped and regretted placing her in that position. I was sorry then and I am sorry now.UPDATE 1 PM: Mr. Kellner, According to Politicker:
... declined to comment on a second reported complaint from another staffer two years later, saying, “I’m not going to speak to that.”UPDATE 8:40 PM - Ben Kallos is one of Mr. Kellner's opponents in the Democratic Party Primary for NYC's 5th Council District which covers Roosevelt Island, the Upper East Side and Midtown East.
But what should voters make of the fact that he had been out front, criticizing Mr. Silver for failing to refer complaints for investigation–when that is precisely what is alleged to have happened to the complaints lodged against him?
“Then this should have been handled,” he replied. “I was never informed four years ago of a complaint. So I only learned of this recently.”
Mr. Kellner also declined to speculate about why the complaints had surfaced now–in the midst of a heated election–and sidestepped questions about how he thought voters were reacting to the barrage of political sex scandal, including the latest revelations about mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner....
This afternoon, Mr. Kallos held a press conference in front of Mr. Kellner's 1st Avenue office where he received the endorsement of the National Organization for Women of New York City (NOW NYC) from its President, Sonia Ossorio.
I'm humbled to accept the endorsement of @NOW_NYC. Together, we'll combat a culture of sexual harassment in New York. pic.twitter.com/xDGnINZpHJ
— Kallos 4 NYC Council (@kallos) July 24, 2013
Mr. Kallos then spoke about the sexual harassment allegations reported today by the NY Times against Mr. Kellner stating:
... I'm not OK with a culture that permits this to go on and say its no big deal...When asked during the Press Conference:
... in our government there's a culture of powerful people using that power to prey on others. I 'm disappointed today and I call on others to stand up to this culture of fear and harassment...
... would you put Kellner in same vein as Spitzer and Weiner?Mr. Kallos responded:
... any harassment is unacceptable and comparing whose worse in the spectrum is not a game we should be playing. Zero tolerance is what it is by the law and that is what it should be for all of us....NOW -NYC's Ms Ossorio added:
... across the board there's abuses of power and that is the heart of the matter, not to what degree the harassment took place...Here's video of today's Ben Kallos press conference.
Capital New York reports:
City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin withdrew her endorsement of Assemblyman Micah Kellner this afternoon, citing a New York Times story about inappropriate messages he exchanged with female staffers in years past.Click here for the entire Capital New York article.
Kellner is running for the Council seat currently held by Lappin, who is running for Manhattan Borough President.
In a statement from her campaign, Lappin said, "Today’s New York Times story about Assemblyman Kellner was deeply troubling. His behavior was clearly wrong and inappropriate, as he himself acknowledged. Because of the seriousness of the issue, I am withdrawing my endorsement of him for the City Council seat I currently hold.”...