Assemblyman Micah Kellner (D) has been stripped of public resources and his offices ordered shut down, because he violated terms of a letter of admonition. The letter, issued in 2013 due to previous violations of the Assembly’s sexual harassment policies, instructed Kellner that he could not employ interns in his Assembly offices. Kellner is alleged to have hired a female intern in spite of the sanctions, covered up the hiring of said intern, and has since added sexually harassing two more female aides to his resume.
Via the Times Union:
The Assembly Ethics Committee alleges that Assemblyman Micah Kellner violated the terms of a letter of admonition and employed a female intern and harassed an aide and will be stripped of public resources and have his offices closed, according to a record and interviews.
The Manhattan Democrat, who was previously sanctioned for violating the Assembly’s sexual harassment policies by making inappropriate statements to his staff in 2009 and 2011, was admonished again by the Assembly Ethics and Guidance Committee. He allegedly violated terms in his admonishment letter of December 2013. Speaker Sheldon Silver directed Kellner to not have any interns placed or working in his Assembly offices.
In a followup investigation May 14, Assembly representatives found that he had an intern working for him. They also alleged that he sexually harassed an employee in 2013.
Kellner was to face the latest charges on May 27th but declined to appear.
According to the latest report, interviews of Kellner’s staff were to take place periodically to demonstrate that the Assemblyman had not violated the letter of admonition. One such interview revealed that Kellner had an intern working in his office. Kellner would deny knowing that the intern had been employed in his office, but subsequent findings show that “Kellner attempted to cover up the intern’s existence by telling his staff not to reveal that information.”
Additionally, one determination of the investigation reads:
“As a result of the investigation, it was learned that Member Kellner engaged in unwanted and inappropriate conduct of a sexual nature toward two female members of his staff, in addition to the incidents that were brought to the Ethics Committee’s attention in 2013.”
In a statement, Kellner called the new allegations nothing more than “trumped up” charges.
The original sanctions against Kellner stemmed from allegations that between 2009 and 2011, the openly bisexual Assemblyman had harassed both female and male employees.
News of Kellner’s actions, along with the higher-profile incident involving Assemblyman Vito Lopez, prompted one of their Assembly colleagues to introduce legislation that made it illegal to grope unpaid interns in New York. If you’re wondering, such a law was indeed necessary, as a Manhattan Federal Judge ruled in October of last year that unpaid interns were not protected from illegal touching by their employers.