What to Know
- Scott Stringer lost one of his most noteworthy endorsements in the race for New York City mayor, as the Working Families Party rescinded their support for him amid sexual harassment and groping allegations
- A growing list of New York lawmakers, on the state and national level, have also withdrawn their support for Stringer
- The New York City Comptroller is facing calls to resign his position and end his campaign after Jean Kim accused him of groping and sexually harassing her 20 years ago, when she said she was an unpaid intern for a campaign
Scott Stringer lost one of his most noteworthy endorsements in the race for New York City mayor Friday, as the Working Families Party rescinded their support for him amid sexual harassment and groping allegations from a woman who says she was a former intern.
"For years, New York's politics have been dominated by a culture of sexual harassment. We are deeply committed to building a cite and state where are New Yorkers are safe from sexual misconduct, and survivors are supported in speaking out," said the party's director, Sochie Nnaemeka. "We approached this moment wit the deliberate reflection, discussion, and input from members and leaders across the party that it required. Jean Kim shared her experience of sexual assault and Scott Stringer failed to acknowledge and consider his responsibility for that harm."
A growing list of New York lawmakers, on the state and national level, have also withdrawn their support for Stringer, including U.S. Rep. Jamaal Bowman; State Senators Alessandra Biaggi, Julia Salazar and Gustavo Rivera; and Assemblymembers Yu-Line Niou and Catalina Cruz.
The party said that they will continue their support for two of Stringer's fellow Democratic candidates for mayor, Dianne Morales and Maya Wiley.
In response to losing the endorsement, which was significant considering how many candidates are currently in the Democratic field, Stringer said he understood their decision.
"For those who can't stay with the campaign, I respect that, and they have to do what they have to do, and I get it. This is a difficult situation," he said.
The New York City Comptroller is facing calls to resign his position and end his campaign after Kim accused him of groping and sexually harassing her 20 years ago, when she said she was an unpaid intern for a past campaign.
In sharing the allegations Wednesday, Kim said the lawmaker "repeatedly groped me. Put his hands on my thighs and between my legs and demanded to know why I wouldn't have sex with him. He kept saying, 'Why won't you f--- me?'"
She said that the alleged misconduct occurred in 2001 in bars and taxis, and insisted that she rejected his advances.
Hours after the accusation came to light, Stringer responded by saying "I don't talk that way. That's not the language I use and didn't use that language ever with Jean." During an appearance alongside his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, Stringer denied the allegations in full.
"I believe women have the right to come forward and be heard. But this isn't me, I didn't do this," he said. "I am gonna fight for the truth because these allegations are false .. the behavior described is inaccurate and completely antithetical to the way I have conducted my life."
Stringer said Kim was a friend and a campaign volunteer, not an intern or subordinate. He also acknowledged that they had a brief romantic relationship at that time, when she was 30 and he was a 41-year-old state assemblyman.
"I believe it was a mutual, consensual relationship. I never used any force, made any threats, or did any of the things that are alleged," the mayoral hopeful said. He also admitted that at the time of what he characterized as a "light relationship" with Kim, he was in a serious relationship with another woman he was living with.
Kim's lawyer said there was no consensual sexual relationship between the two, and that Stringer dangled opportunities before her as he pursued a physical relationship. The lawyer claimed that the politician suggested he could make Kim the first Asian district leader on the west side, but only after she proved her loyalty.
"I have always been fearful of his vindictive nature," Kim said Wednesday.
In a somewhat strange development, the lobbyist and stand-up comedian appeared on a virtual comedy show after announcing the allegations. After the host quipped about the media coverage she had been getting, Kim replied by joking "I don't want to sound like a cliché, but I had to Me Too one of the politicians I used to work with because he couldn't keep his thing in his pants." She also joked that the coverage of her press conference "knocked Rudy Giuliani off the top of the news."
Through her attorney, Kim said that after the host of the weekly comedy workshop made the initial comments about the TV coverage, she saw some of the participants appeared confused, so she wanted to explain the situation.
"The abuse I experienced is no joke, but comedy can help to release stress and anxiety around a serious issue. Sharing laughs with supportive comic friends also helps," Kim said.
The Stringer campaign also called attention to a comedy thesis Kim wrote in 2019 as a grad student, where she wrote "Fortunately, I have no stories about comics who flashed themselves in front of me, or of sexual groping episodes." Kim responded to that as well, saying that what she was addressing in the thesis was being a female in the male-dominated comedy field at the time.
"The phrase that included the term, "groping" referred to being victimized in that way as a female comic. I did not have that experience in comedy work, but rather in the political field, which was outside the parameters of my thesis," she said in a statement. "I was not choosing to reveal my entire personal history in my Masters' thesis."
Some of the other candidates in the crowded Democratic field for NYC mayor blasted Stringer, and called on him to drop out of the race. Shaun Donovan and former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia also said Stringer needs to step down as comptroller as well. Donovan called the claims "credible, profoundly disturbing and deeply disappointing."
Wiley said the "behavior, as Kim describes it, is a sexual assault, as well as sexual harassment," while Brooklyn Borough president Eric Adams acknowledged the "deeply troubling allegations of assault and I take them seriously. I want to recognize Jean Kim for her courage and bravery today.”
But Andrew Yang — who has been leading the polls in the mayoral race — didn’t mention Stringer and instead focused on the accuser.
"A shout out to Jean Kim. I wanna acknowledge as a survivor she took a brave step this morning. It’s never easy to acknowledge this kind of experience," Yang said.