NEW YORK — New York’s Working Families Party, a key progressive group, is pulling its endorsement of New York City Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer, amid accusations of sexual misconduct.
“The New York Working Families Party has made the decision to withdraw our endorsement of Scott Stringer,” the WFP said in a statement. “For years, New York’s politics have been dominated by a culture of sexual harassment. We are deeply committed to building a city and state where all New Yorkers are safe from sexual misconduct and survivors are supported in speaking out.”
The party is maintaining it’s endorsement of Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley.
“The New York Working Families Party will be forging forward in the critical weeks ahead to ensure one of these fearless, bold women is the next mayor of New York,” the statement added.
Jean Kim said she was an unpaid intern on Stringer’s campaign for public advocate in 2001 when the then-New York assemblyman “inappropriately and relentlessly” pursued a sexual relationship with her. She accused Stringer of sexually harassing her and groping her on multiple occasions.
In one instance, Kim said Stringer demanded to know why she wouldn’t have sex with him. She said his behavior made her so uncomfortable, she ultimately moved across town and left the community she had found in the Democratic club where she was first introduced to Stringer.
“I have tried my best to put this chapter of my life behind me, to forget about it all and move forward with my life, but I’m coming forward now because being forced to see him in my living room TV every day pretending to be a champion for women’s rights just sickens me when I know the truth,” Kim said.
She said she hadn’t come forward before out of fear of retaliation and concern Stringer would destroy her career in politics.
Kim came forward because of his campaign; she said she didn’t want to see him elected as mayor.
Stringer admitted to a months-long consensual relationship with Jean Kim, who the mayoral candidate said was a volunteer for his public advocate campaign, and added they were friends.
“I categorically deny that in any way I did anything without her consent. We were friends for a very long time, it turned into something more for a brief time,” Stringer told PIX11 News. “It was just totally consensual.”
“I do respect Jean’s right to come forward and say what’s on her mind,” Stringer said, “But I’m also here to absolutely refute” the claims against him.
Kim said “there was never a romantic relationship” between her and Stringer, however the comptroller claimed “there was a relationship.”
“It was a friendship that turned into something more,”he said. “It was nothing that wasn’t consensual.”
Stringer said the pair had an “amicable” relationship for years until 2013, when she approached him for a job.
After she didn’t get the job, she went to his rival campaign, according to Stringer.
Stringer had previously called for Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign in the face of a multitude of sexual harassment allegations against him. He said his situation is different.
Comptroller Stringer, anticipating allies would rescind their endorsement, put out a statement Friday.
“I understand that this is a difficult moment for my supporters, and I know that some of them will feel compelled to withdraw their endorsement of my candidacy,” he said. “This campaign was always going to be about the people. I’ve received a lot of support on campaign stops over the last two days, and I’m going to be campaigning in every neighborhood, in every borough for the next two months.”
The NYWFP are the latest in a series of high profile New York entities taking back their endorsement. State Sens. Jessica Ramos, Jabari Brisport (who had made Stringer his second choice behind Morales) and Gustavo Rivera, as well as the United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1500, which represents some 20,000 grocery workers in New York, have also rescinded.
Friday evening, following the WFP’s announcement, Congressman Jamaal Bowman, State Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar and Assemblymembers Yuh-Line Nious and Catalina Cruz announced they would rescind their endorsement as well.