Mayor Mike Probes Office Hanky-Panky

For once, Bloomberg not rushing to staffer's defense

The gloves are coming off in Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s campaign for re-election, but his administration may be shedding more clothing than that.

City Finance Commissioner Martha Stark may have been hooking up with a former subordinate -- a no-no in city government, according to The New York Post. The mayor considers the charge a “serious” allegation and is investigating it, the paper reported. 

Stark allegedly had a romantic relationship with Dara Ottley-Brown while Ottley-Brown was assistant finance commissioner, according to The Post. Stark has been adamant about her lack of involvement with any subordinate throughout her nine years in the job. Bloomberg confirms Stark's denial, but offered nothing further. If she had been fooling around with a subordinate, she could be fired on the spot.

The mayor has been known to rush to the defense of those in his employ, but he's been slower to do so in this case. That may be because it wouldn’t be the first time – or the second – he’s done so on Stark’s behalf this year.

Stark, who was appointed city finance commissioner in 2002, came under fire for earning more than $130,000 in 2006 and 2007 as a board member of a New York-based development company. Bloomberg attested to Stark’s commitment to her day job amid the public outcry, saying she worked upwards of 60-hour weeks. He said, “It isn’t like she isn’t working very hard for the city,” according to The Post.  

When Stark was later charged with inaction on an allegation that one of her aides’ husbands – a parking ticket judge – had bilked taxpayers out of nearly $10,000 by logging ambiguous hours, the mayor backed her again.

Ottley-Brown divorced her husband, who later got hired by the finance department, in 2007. The couple's daughter had earlier worked as an intern in the department, according to The Post. In addition to the alleged office romance, Stark has been under fire for using her position to give friends or relations unfair advantages -- a charge she denies as well.

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