Assemblyman Micah Kellner Sexually Harassed Staffers, Ethics Committee Says

By Lindsay Armstrong on December 31, 2013 2:21pm 

 Assemblyman Micah Kellner.
Assemblyman Micah Kellner.
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DNAinfo/Victoria Bekiempis

UPPER EAST SIDE — State Assemblyman Micah Kellner was hit with a series of sanctions this week after the Assembly's ethics committee found he sexually harassed two members of his staff. 

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who has also come under fire for not aggressively investigating and disclosing prior claims of sexual harassment against members of the legislature, sent Kellner a letter that was released to the public stripping him of his chairmanship of the Committee on Libraries and warning him that he is ineligible for leadership positions in the future. 

“I hearby admonish you on behalf of the New York State Assembly and its Members and declare that your conduct with respect to this matter is intolerable,” Silver wrote.

Kellner was barred from working with interns or hiring new staff members and will also be required to attend training on sexual harassment. Kellner's Assembly term will expire in December 2014. A Kellner spokesman declined to comment Tuesday. 

Kellner, who was elected in 2007 to represent the 76th District, which includes part of the Upper East Side and Roosevelt Island, was accused of sexual harassment earlier this year by two staffers.

A junior staff member in Kellner’s office complained to her supervisor in 2009 that Kellner had made sexually suggestive remarks to her during an online chat session, The New York Times reported. The supervisor, a top Kellner aide, reported the complaint to the Assembly’s highest-ranking lawyer, Bill Collins, who never referred the matter to the ethics committee for investigation, according to the Times. Collins resigned in July over the revelation.

In 2011, a second staffer made a similar complaint directly to the ethics committee. She ultimately decided against proceeding with the matter, according to officials.

The allegations derailed Kellner’s campaign for the City Council and pointed to larger problems in the State Assembly, critics said.

A report in May 2013 from the ethics committee found that Speaker Silver helped shield disgraced Assemblyman Vito Lopez from public scrutiny over sexual harassment charges made by his staff.  Silver’s staff failed to refer the allegations to the ethics committee, and approved secret financial settlements with two of the women Lopez allegedly harassed, according to reports.

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