The City Council’s Ethics Committee has launched a preliminary investigation into an allegation that Manhattan Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez inappropriately “touched” a female Council staffer during an argument over budget matters.
Rodriguez emailed a terse “No” to the Daily Politics in response to a question of whether the allegation is true. His lawyer, Leo Glickman, said the councilman “categorically denies he ever touched anyone in an assaultive, aggressive way.”
The Ethics Committee met behind closed doors yesterday and appointed three of its members, including Ethics Chairwoman Inez Dickens (D-Manhattan), to investigate.
Sources described the staffer as a woman who works for the Council’s central staff, not for Rodriguez. The incident reportedly occurred last Friday night, after a handshake agreement on the new budget at City Hall. Council officials had no comment.
Rodriguez, 44, was elected last November, succeeding the now-jailed Miguel Martinez, who pleaded guilty to charges of stealing funds from his Council office. Rodriguez is chairman of the Higher Education Committee, having been named to that post in January when Brooklyn Councilman Charles Barron was forced out by Council Speaker Christine Quinn, with the near-unanimous backing of the entire Council membership.
One source, who did not want to be identified, said that Rodriguez chewed out the staffer for not having kept him properly informed in the hectic hours prior to the hand-shake deal of developments in funding for CUNY. It was not disclosed how the incident turned into a formal Ethics Committee investigation.
The Council rewrote its rules on harassment and other misconduct following the scandal that saw then-Councilman Allan Jennings (D-Queens) censured by the Council for sexually harassing several female staffers, both on his district office’s staff and on the Council’s central staff. Jennings was defeated in a primary in 2005 and has failed in other come-back attempts.