Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday ripped Montana Gov. Steve Bullock for not telling his administration that a senior staffer had been fired for sexual harassment before he was hired by City Hall.
“Clearly they had information and when DOI reached out, they did not share the information they had,” de Blasio said about the Department of Investigations contacting Montana officials about the aide, Kevin O’Brien, who was fired here after sexual harassment complaints were lodged against him.
“It’s personally frustrating. If we had known, we would not have hired him. It’s as simple as that,” Hizzoner said.
“The whole thing is disgusting and it makes me tremendously angry that someone lied to us,” he said, referring to O’Brien, adding that “he falsified the form based on everything we know.”
And he promised that the victims would get justice.
“There will be consequence for these perpetrators. We need folks who’ve been harassed to come forward,” he said during a news conference.
Bullock spokeswoman Ronja Abel offered an astonishing excuse for the governor’s failure to disclose: He believed that O’Brien wouldn’t harass any more women after being axed from the Democratic Governors Association.
“Gov. Bullock fully agreed with the decision to end Mr. O’Brien’s employment with the DGA and at the time expected that having been held accountable for his actions, Kevin would not repeat this behavior. Knowing what he knows now, it’s clear to Bullock the DGA termination wasn’t enough to protect more women from what has proven to be an unacceptable pattern of behavior,” Abel told the Helena Independent Record on Tuesday.
“We all have a responsibility to do better and put an end to sexual harassment, and Bullock is committed to doing his part.”
Abel did not reply to repeated requests for comment Wednesday.
Bullock served a one-year term as chairman of the governors association in 2015 and sent O’Brien to Washington as his representative.
O’Brien left in December 2015 after a woman employed there accused him of sexually harassing her and an investigation backed her up.
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 earning $220,652.
In February 2018, two women accused O’Brien of sexual harassment and he was forced out, although he remained on the payroll for another five weeks to use up his vacation time — and then was paid an extra $6,488 for time still owed.
But City Hall at the time never disclosed O’Brien’s departure or the reason behind it.
A spokesman said de Blasio only learned about the prior situation through a published report.
Spokesman Eric Phillips says the Department of Investigation received no adverse information during its background checks.
Phillips said 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.”
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