Assemblyman Micha Kellner is the latest Albany legislator to have sexual harassment charges made public. The New York Times reported today that Kellner sent a series of flirtatious messages to a junior female staffer over an Internet game of Scrabble.
Kellner told the woman during a late-night exchange that he hired her because she was "cute." "I wouldn't mind falling asleep with you but not remotely," he told his employee. Kellner is currently running for City Council in the 5th district.
The Times' reporting has resulted in the resignation of Assembly Lawyer Bill Collins, who failed to pass on the charges to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.
Kellner apologized for the behavior and said that it happened before he was married.
Over four years ago, for a few weeks while I was still single, I exchanged instant messages with a female member of my staff that were flirtatious. It was inappropriate. I was wrong and it was stupid. When I was told that my staffer felt the messages were unprofessional, I immediately stopped and regretted placing her in that position. I was sorry then and I am sorry now.
The revelation comes as Silver is still trying to manage fallout from his botched handling of the Vito Lopez sexual harassment scandal. Silver's office has a long history of improperly responding to sexual harassment claims and his conference has been grumbling.
Kellner was one of the early critics of Silver's handling of the Lopez case. A number of staffers and female legislators say there has long been a culture of sexual harassment in Albany.
Some legislators and staffers say they think Silver has avoided returning to Albany this summer to prevent legislators from gathering to discuss his ouster.
Some staffers say their bosses have definitely spent time talking about the generalties of how they would replace SIlver but without specifics about who would take the mantle. "It has become like a parlor game they play," said one staffer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The New York Post's Fred Dicker reported Monday that Assemblywoman Deborah Glick could be in line to replace Silver with the backing of a number of female legislators.
Glick took to Twitter to refute Dicker's story: