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Andy King accused of paying 'unwelcome attention' to council staffer

The Standards and Ethics Committee will meet in the future to decide how to handle the misconduct claims against the Bronx councilman.

The de Blasio administration was criticized Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018, for stopping the NYPD's civilian watchdog from prosecuting the police officer who put Eric Garner in an apparent choke hold before his death in 2014. (Credit: Newsday / Matthew Chayes)

An ethics panel is probing whether City Councilman Andy King of the Bronx “paid unwelcome attention” to a female staffer, asking her repeatedly to “smile more” and inviting her to a winter ball, where he said he hoped she would wear a “beautiful gown,” the panel’s chairman said Wednesday.

The Standards and Ethics Committee must decide whether to punish King, a Democrat. Penalties could include expulsion, fines or other sanctions.

Councilman Steven Matteo, a Staten Island Republican who chairs the ethics committee, outlined the allegations after returning from an hourlong executive session.

According to the allegations, “King paid unwelcome attention to her . . . [and] repeatedly asked the employee to smile more while shaking her hand and keeping an extended grip on her hand until she smiled.”

Also, King, after a committee hearing, “asked the employee for a personal phone number in connection with the council member inviting her to a winter ball fundraising gala, and stating he would like to see her in a beautiful gown at the event,” according to the allegations.

Matteo, who said the panel would meet in the future on the issue, but didn’t specify a time frame and did not say when the alleged misconduct occurred.

King could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

The last council member to be disciplined for sexual misconduct was Allan W. Jennings Jr., who was found in 2005 to have harassed two female subordinates. He was fined $5,000 and ordered to attend sensitivity training and anger management coaching. He was also stripped of committee assignments and censured.

The inquiry concluded that Jennings had demanded that one aide clean his home and gave another a pornographic gift, as well as asked them out on dates, made lewd comments and touched them inappropriately, according to contemporaneous news accounts.

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