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Politician Suspended, Fined After Comparing Pride to Child Porn

Politician Suspended, Fined After Comparing Pride to Child Porn

andy king new york city nyc councilmember councilman suspended fined 15,000 ethics committee anti lgbtq lgbtq remarks pride parades

Andy King has been slapped with a $15,000 penalty.

UPDATE (10/29):

New York City councilman Andy King has been fined $15,000 and suspended for 30 days after an ethics investigation revealed he compared Pride Parades to child pornography and said he didn't approve of LGBTQ+ celebrating themselves in public.

City lawmakers didn't have enough votes to expel the embattled councilman, but in a 44-1 vote on Tuesday, with two abstensions, the council overwhelmingly adopted these penalties recommended by the city's ethics committee, which substantiated the allegations. King will also be subject to an ethics monitor for the rest of his term and removed from all committee assignments, as Gay City News reported. Any staffers he wrongfully terminated will have the option to resume their old jobs.

ORIGINAL (10/24):

Looks like a New York City councilmember has no problem raining on Pride parades.

According to a damning, 48-page ethics report released Tuesday that documents several years of misconduct, councilman Andy King allegedly engaged in anti-LGBTQ+ harassment of an employee, used public funds to finance a trip to the Virgin Islands, retaliated against staff who cooperated with government investigations, and fostered a hostile work environment.

The report, released by New York City Council's Committee on Standards and Ethics, highlights a 2015 event in which King, who represents parts of The Bronx, confronted his staff about a photo posted on his Twitter account. He was visibly upset upon entering a summer staff meeting at his district office and angrily asked who posted the picture. The photo in question featured openly gay NYC Council Speaker Corey Johnson and councilmember Rosie Mendez dancing and holding Pride flags at a Pride Parade, according to the report. One of his staffers admitted to it, noting they'd meant to post it to their personal account instead. In response, King told his staff, "I don't approve of this behavior ... To me, this is the same as child pornography."

Ethics Committee members have recommended a vast slate of punishments for King, including a one-month suspension without pay, removal from all committee assignments, supervision from an appointed ethics monitor, and a fine of $15,000.

Johnson and councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer have called for King to resign amid the laundry list of allegations.

"As an openly gay man, as an openly HIV-positive man, the comments that I read, that were in that committee report were disgusting to me," Johnson said, adding that his dismay goes beyond the comments King made about LGBTQ+ people. "This is totally unacceptable and inappropriate and I condemn it in the strongest terms and I think it's going to be hard for him to discharge his duties. I think that he should resign."

King is no stranger to ethics rebukes in New York. Last year, officials found he violated the council's anti-harassment and discrimination policy after they substantiated allegations from a female staffer. As New York Daily News reported, he subjected her to unwanted attention, which included asking her to attend a winter ball so he could see her in a "beautiful gown" and gripping her hand to force her to smile. He was ordered to attend sensitivity and ethics training at the time.

King was also one of three city councilmembers who didn't vote to approve a conversion therapy ban in 2017, serving as the sole abstaining vote. (New York City moved to repeal the ban last month amid concerns of an unfavorable challenge that would move through the federal courts.)

A vote to approve the proposed penalties for King from the recent report is set for Monday.

"To the employees he abused, degraded, and retaliated against: I'm so sorry you had to go through this," councilmember Van Bramer said in a statement to Politico. "To the people he supposedly serves: You deserve better."

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