Ex-NYC mayoral aide also lost previous job over sexual harassment

NEW YORK (AP) — A former New York City mayoral aide who was quietly forced out of his job over sexual harassment allegations was fired previously for similar reasons.

The Democratic Governors Association in Washington tells The New York Times that Kevin O’Brien was fired in December 2015.

O’Brien had been a senior staff member for Democratic Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana. Bullock served a one-year term as chairman of the governors association in 2015 and he sent O’Brien to Washington to be his representative at the organization.

O’Brien left the governors association in December 2015 after a woman employed there accused him of sexually harassing her and an investigation backed her up.

Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s press secretary, Eric Phillips, said on Monday night that the mayor only became aware of the prior situation as a result of The Times’ reporting.

Phillips said that the Department of Investigation, as part of a standard background check, contacted both the governors association and an administrative office that deals with personnel for the state of Montana. He said the department “received confirmation of title and work dates and no adverse information.”

“When I was made aware of the complaint against Mr. O’Brien at the Democratic Governors Association, I fully agreed with the decision to end his employment,” Bullock said in a written statement.

In an apparent reference to the subsequent harassment case in New York, Bullock added: “It’s clear that was not enough to protect these women from what has proven to be an unacceptable pattern of behavior on his part. We all have a responsibility to do better and to put an end to sexual harassment, and I’m committed to doing my part.”

Bullock said that he was “deeply troubled” to learn of the New York accusation when it was reported by The Times earlier this month.

O’Brien started work at City Hall, as deputy chief of staff, on Jan. 24, 2016, and was promoted to acting chief of staff in early 2017. He served in that capacity until the end of that year, following de Blasio’s re-election, when he became a senior adviser to the mayor.

In February 2018, two women accused Mr. O’Brien of sexual harassment and he was forced to quit City Hall, although he remained on the payroll until late March. But City Hall at the time made no announcement about Mr. O’Brien’s departure or the reason for it.

When reached for comment on Monday, O’Brien issued a statement nearly identical to one that he released after the circumstances of his departure from City Hall were recently disclosed, blaming alcohol abuse for making “horrible decisions.”

“There’s no excuse for what I’ve done. I’m embarrassed and ashamed,” he said. “No one deserves to be treated that way. I’ve apologized to the people I’ve hurt and will continue to do so because I am truly sorry.”

By Josh Bovee

Leave a Reply