5 more NY politicians rescind Stringer endorsement after bullying allegation surfaces

New York Elections
NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer announces mayoral run

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer formally announced Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, that he is running for mayor in the 2021 election.

NEW YORK — The list of politicians to pull their endorsements from New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s mayoral campaign grew longer Saturday evening after a New York City Council member accused Stringer of threats.

U.S. Rep. Adriano Espaillat, City Council members Mark Levine and Diana Ayala, state Sen. Jose Serrano and Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa announced they were backing out of their endorsement of Stringer, who faces an accusation of sexual misconduct from a former 2001 campaign volunteer.

New York’s Working Families Party, Rep. Jamaal Bowman, state Sens. Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar and Assemblymembers Yuh-Line Niou and Catalina Cruz announced they would rescind their endorsement on Friday night.

Saturday brought new accusations of bullying against Stringer by Council member and candidate for Manhattan Borough President Ben Kallos, who tweeted a thread detailing Stringer’s alleged actions toward him.

Kallos claimed that in 2017 Stringer told him to stop trying to pass campaign finance reform if he wanted his support. Kallos said the legislation would’ve kept wealthy developers from donating large sums of money to candidates and that Stringer relied on that money. Kallos claimed Stringer threatened him and said other local politicians have told him likewise.

“Scott Stringer should not be mayor, let alone comptroller,” Kallos concluded. “The last thing New York City needs is our own Cuomo.”

Earlier this week, a woman who said she was an unpaid intern on Stringer’s campaign for public advocate in 2001 came forward with allegations that the then-New York assemblyman “inappropriately and relentlessly” pursued a sexual relationship with her. The woman, Jean Kim, 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 during a news conference on Wednesday.

She said she hadn’t come forward before out of fear of retaliation and concern Stringer would destroy her career in politics.

Stringer admitted to a months-long consensual relationship with Kim, who the mayoral candidate said was a volunteer — not an intern — for his public advocate campaign.

“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 on Thursday. “It was just totally 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. 

Anticipating some allies would rescind their endorsement, Stringer released a statement on 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.”

PIX11 News reached out to Stringer’s campaign for comment on Kallos’ allegations and received the same statement that was sent on Friday.

PIX11 News’ Katie Corrado, Lauren Cook, Aliza Chasan, Dan Mannarino and Kristine Garcia contributed to this story.

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