Suspended Bronx leader avoids expulsion from City Hall

City Councilman Andy King was suspended from City Hall for 30 days on Oct. 28. (Photo by Alex Mitchell)

Bronx City Council member Andy King received a month-long suspension from office following a probe into harassment and conflict of interest charges dating back to early 2017.

The City Council voted down a resolution to expel King, but opted instead to ban the lawmaker from City Council for 30 days and fine him $15,000. It’s the lengthiest suspension voted on in the modern history of the Council, according to Speaker Corey Johnson, who addressed the charges prior to a vote.

Johnson also said that King will be required to hire an office monitor on staff — another dubious first for a sitting city lawmaker.

In the end, 44 Council members voted in favor of King’s suspension. King voted against his own suspension, and two others — Brooklyn’s Inez Barron and Queens’ I. Daneek Miller — abstained.

King, who controls the Bronx’s 12th District in Co-Op City and other northeast neighborhoods of the borough, ran into trouble after the council’s Committee On Standards and Ethics released a 48-page report detailing the allegations of harassment, conflict of interest, retaliation, disorderly conduct just a week earlier. King previously had to undergo training for similar issues in 2017.

Going through the report and transcripts against King made Johnson “literally sick to (his) stomach,” the speaker said.

The council’s Ethics Committee has been investigating King since early on in 2017, alleging that he “engaged in gender-based harassment” regarding a photo accidentally posted to his Twitter account by a staffer that was intended for their personal account in June 2015.

The “sickening” report on King said he allegedly referred to that photo being the same “as child pornography” in front of staff while also alleging King to have set up his wife, Neva Shillingford-King to “essentially help run his office” while also giving her the power to hire staffers. The council also resolved that Shillingford-King may not have any future involvement in her husband’s office.

He’s also accused of misappropriating council funds for a “retreat” fit for a king in the U.S. Virgin Islands, one that both the council member and his wife attended.

King was also alleged to have allowed a staffer to behave “in a verbally and physically threatening manner,” according to the report.

The Ethics Committee also alleged that King retaliated against staffers that he believed would cooperate with the investigation.

King said “ever since I’ve been in office I’ve treated my staff like family,” during his Monday afternoon hearing—which he referred to as a crucifixion while also saying his due process was being violated.

City Council Member Jimmy Van Bramer (at right) had introduced a resolution to expel City Councilman Andy King (Photo by Alex Mitchell)

Queens Council member Jimmy Van Bramer made the motion to expel King, which was vocally supported by Brooklyn Council Member Carlos Menchaca — though that was voted down by a count of 34 to 12.

King’s suspension also entails that he will be removed as chair from the council’s Committee on Juvenile Justice in addition to being removed as a member from the Committee on Civil Service and Labor, Committee on Education, Committee on Parks and Recreation, Committee on State and Federal Legislation and Committee on Youth Services.

He could reapply for those and other committee positions in a year.

Staten Island City Councilman and Standards Committee Chair Steven Matteo said that sanctions would have likely been less harsh if King had been more cooperative in the investigation.

Johnson also noted that King may still face criminal charges, pending an investigation.

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