Second Round Of Kellner Harassment Charges Dismissed (Updated)
A second set of sexual harassment charges that had been leveled against Assemblyman Micah Kellner were dismissed by a hearing officer, with Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver being asked to review sanctions that stripped the Manhattan Democrat of his Albany and district offices.
Kellner was accused last year of making inappropriate advances directed toward legislative staff, and a second round of charges were leveled at him when he was accused of employing an intern, a violation of the December penalties Silver had issued.
Hearing officer Howard Levine wrote in a letter that Kellner wasn’t given enough notice earlier this spring following the new charge.
Levine did said that while Kellner’s employment of an intern did violate the December order, it wasn’t determinative that Kellner’s offices should be taken away from him.
“No evidence has been offered indicating what the Speaker would have done in the absence of additional sexual harassment findings,” Levine wrote. “Moreover, whether or not it would shock my sense of fairness if the Speaker had determined to close Member Kellner’s offices absent the sexual harassment findings, that is simply not the record before me.”
Kellner in an emailed statement to reporters blasted Silver, saying the ruling by Levine proved the Assembly Ethics Committee’s review of the harassment case shwed it was “nothing more then a kangaroo court doing Speaker Silver’s bidding.”
“Speaker Silver put my appeal in the hands of a lobbying firm, assuming they would also do his bidding because it was in their financial interest, but when they showed a shred of fairness Speaker Silver, making this up as he goes along, decided to ignore his hand picked appeals officer and ham handily invoke double jeopardy,” he said.
In October, Levine denied an appeal by Kellner on the initial set of harassment charges.
Kellner has argued in his appeal that he didn’t receive the constitutional right to due process or enough time to respond to the harassment charges.
But Levine wrote in the report that Kellner had “sufficient opportunity to refute and clear his name with respect to allegations of misconduct.”
Updated: Silver spokesman Mike Whyland responded, saying Kellner has “no credibility.”
“Assemblyman Kellner has no credibility. The Ethics and Guidance Committee found on more than one occasion that he acted in an inappropriate and sexually abusive manner toward his staff. He cannot hide the fact that in direct violation of the Speaker’s directive, and confirmed by Judge Levine, he continued to employ an intern and instructed his staff to cover it up. Additionally new sexual harassment allegations were uncovered following the first round of sanctions. Given all this, at the request of the Ethics and Guidance Committee, we took the necessary steps to stop his terrible behavior and prevent him from further harassing Assembly employees.”
And here’s the letter from Levine:
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