De Blasio’s Office Kept Senior Staffer’s Exit Secret. It Turns Out He Had A String Of Sexual Harassment Allegations
- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former acting chief of staff Kevin O’Brien resigned in February 2018 after two women accused him of sexual harassment.
- O’Brien, 36, had been fired from the job he held before working for de Blasio because of a sexual harassment claim, The New York Times revealed Monday.
- De Blasio said he did not know about the earlier sexual harassment allegation against O’Brien until The Times brought it to the mayor’s attention.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s former chief of staff, who resigned in 2018 after two women accused him of sexual harassment, had been fired from his previous job because of a sexual harassment investigation, The New York Times revealed Monday.
Former de Blasio staffer Kevin O’Brien’s path from senior adviser at the Democratic Governors Association to de Blasio’s senior staff to a consulting group (which has since fired him) illustrates one thing: none of his high-powered bosses ever passed along the concerning reason why he had been terminated. Instead, they passed him along, including to a position as Democrat de Blasio’s acting chief of staff that paid $220,652 a year, reported The Times.
De Blasio spokesman Eric F. Phillips told The Times the mayor did not know why O’Brien, 36, was fired from the governors association in 2015 until Monday night as a result of reporting by The Times.
“The misconduct in this case literally makes me sick to my stomach,” Mr. de Blasio said at a Jan. 17 news conference after accusations against O’Brien went public, according to The Times. (RELATED: De Blasio Defends Universal Health Care Plan. Joy Behar Says His Defense Makes Him Sound ‘Republican’)
De Blasio allowed O’Brien to quietly depart in February 2018 for a job at a firm run by his friend, “top Democratic political strategist” Nicholas Baldick. Baldick is close to de Blasio and had helped O’Brien get a job at City Hall in 2016. The Times reported of de Blasio’s Jan. 17 news conference:
He defended the decision to allow Mr. O’Brien to resign, rather than firing him, and to keep the reason for his exit secret, saying that it was intended to protect the women who made the accusations against him.
But secrecy is what allowed O’Brien to move from job to job without allegations following him. O’Brien started working at the governors association in 2015 because of his connection with Democratic Montana Gov. Steve Bullock. O’Brien represented Bullock, former chair of the association, in Washington after working for the governor for several years, reported The Times.
Bullock knew about the credible sexual assault investigation that had ousted O’Brien from his employment, and even had a meeting with de Blasio and O’Brien himself in 2017, but O’Brien continued to work for de Blasio with no repercussions, reported The Times.
“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 to The Times. “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 told The Times he found the 2018 allegations against O’Brien “deeply” troubling.
Baldick, who helped O’Brien obtain employment with de Blasio and his own consulting group Hilltop Public Solutions, told The Times Monday he “had no idea” why O’Brien had been fired from the governors association.
“I was shocked and disappointed to learn about this side of Kevin,” Baldick said. “I never would have recommended him, and I certainly wouldn’t have hired him to work at my firm.”
O’Brien was off City Hall’s payroll in late March and was hired by Baldick in April. O’Brien, who is married, blames alcohol abuse for his “horrible decisions,” he told The Times Monday.
“There’s no excuse for what I’ve done. I’m embarrassed and ashamed,” his statement to The Times read. “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.”
De Blasio has served as New York City mayor since 2014 and has characterized his platform as “progressive economic populism.” But he raised eyebrows when he said that the “wrong people” had all the money and he planned to correct that on Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” Jan. 13. One of his solutions is his plan to launch health care for all, including for illegal immigrants.
De Blasio said his plan would work better than institutions like the embattled Department of Veteran Affairs because “we’re closer to the ground, and we’re accountable to our own people” on “The View” Jan. 16.
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