Wednesday, June 11, 2014

New Harassment Allegations Against Roosevelt Island/Upper East Side Assembly Member Micah Kellner - Charges Denied By Kellner, Says Ethics Committee Star Chamber Against Him And Assembly Speaker Silver Punishing Constituents By Withholding Legitimate Community Grants

Reported previously on the sexual harassment charges leveled against Roosevelt Island and Upper East Side Assembly Member Micah Kellner by former staff members. 

The NY Daily News Celeste Katz Daily Politics blog reports today:
Manhattan Assemblyman Micah Kellner - already in hot water for sexual harassment - was punished again Wednesday for making unwanted advances toward staff members.

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver admonished and severely reprimanded Kellner after an Assembly ethics committee accused him of “unwanted and inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature” toward two female members of his staff....
Click here for the full NY Daily News Daily Politics blog post.

According to NY State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver:
The Assembly Ethics and Guidance Committee has issued a letter recommending further sanctions against Assemblymember Micah Kellner after investigating allegations that he violated the terms of my December 30, 2013 Letter of Admonition. Specifically, the Committee found that Assemblymember Kellner violated my order not to have interns in his office, attempted to obstruct a climate survey mandated by the Letter of Admonition and engaged in additional sexual harassment beyond the matters that were the subject of the 2013 investigation.

Because of these most recent findings, I am implementing the recommendations of the Committee in full. I have directed Assemblymember Kellner's Albany and district offices be closed and his staff allocation reduced to zero by the end of June.

Also, consistent with the unanimous recommendation of the Committee on Ethics and Guidance, I hereby admonish and severely reprimand Assemblymember Kellner on behalf of the New York State Assembly and its members and declare that his conduct with respect to these matters violates the Assembly's policies on sexual harassment and is inconsistent with the standards of conduct to which Members of the Assembly should be held.
Assembly Member Kellner responds to the charges:
Speaker Silver's decision to close my offices is a classic example of the politics of personal destruction. Because I have exercised my right to appeal the sanctions he has imposed, an appeal in which the arbiter appointed by the Speaker has determined that I am entitled to due process and to see the evidence presented against me - a ruling that the Assembly has so far defied - new charges have now been trumped up against me.

It is no coincidence that these new and unsubstantiated accusations only came to light after Speaker Silver and the Ethics Committee were handed an overwhelming defeat by his own hand-picked hearing officer, Howard Levine, in the initial decision of May 12th on my appeal.

The Ethic Committee is grasping at these new allegations and its secret star chamber report as weapons to prejudice the appeals officer against me while simultaneously trying to get me to drop the appeal. The Assembly Ethics Committee's outside counsel both violated the Committee's requirement of confidentiality by revealing these new allegations to the hearing officer,who is not a party to them, as well as requesting I drop the appeal when he spoke to my attorney regarding these new allegations.

Shelly Silver created the game, he picked the players and set the rules, and now he is furious and embarrassed that he is losing - plain and simple.

What is most deplorable is that the Speaker continues to punish the residents of the Upper East Side, Yorkville, and Roosevelt Island, first by withholding community grants for legitimate vetted organizations, and now by denying them the resources of my office, which assists New Yorkers from all walks of life every day.

I will appeal this decision immediately.
Mr. Kellner is not seeking re-election to the NY State Assembly.

UPDATE 9:30 PM - The NY Daily News reported on April 7:
Nearly 20 Manhattan community groups have been caught in the crossfire of an ugly battle between Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and embattled Assemblyman Micah Kellner.

Silver recently put on hold $185,000 in funding for the groups that Kellner (D-Manhattan) has secured for his district since 2009....
... The legislative member items totaling thousands of dollars each that Silver froze were earmarked for a range of groups, including parent teacher associations, local parks, the Roosevelt Island Disabled Association and Orphans International America.

“I certainly hope that this is simply a bureaucratic mixup,” Kellner said. “I can’t believe the speaker would be so petty as to punish children, seniors and New Yorkers with disabilities.”...
Click here for the entire NY Daily News article.

UPDATE 6/18 - Former Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) President Matthew Katz adds:
I am appalled at the vindictiveness of Speaker Silver and, having known and worked with Assembly Member Kellner since he entered State politics, reject the charges mounted against him. Further, I have to wonder why Silver is withholding grants to organizations within the 76th AD, especially Roosevelt Island. Why are we being tarred with the same brush used against Micah?