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Rebel New York mayoral candidate as sexual assault charges erode key support

New York City Comptroller and New York City mayoral candidate Scott Stringer has denied the charges. | David Dee Delgado / Getty Images

NEW YORK – New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer clings to his twisted hopes of becoming the next mayor, even as allegations of sexual misconduct lead more and more key supporters to drop their support.

A defiant Stringer told reporters Thursday night he had no plans to drop out of the race, saying a candidate forum, he supports the motto “believe women” while insisting that Jean Kim – the lobbyist who accused him of groping her and kissing her against his will – misrepresents a consensual relationship the two had there. at 20 years.

“Let me say I believe in women – making sure all women can come forward and tell their stories without assuming they are lying. I respect that and agree with it even when it doesn’t suit me. he told the forum, hosted by Hot 97. “But the truth is, I didn’t do anything I was accused of.”

Aides worked furiously on phones throughout Thursday to try and build support and punch holes in Stringer’s accuser story. But efforts have not been sufficient to stop some of the defections.

POLITICO made a first report on Thursday that UFCW Local 1500, a union representing some 20,000 grocery workers in New York City, withdraw its approval.

“The conduct described by Jean Kim is obviously incredibly disturbing,” the union said in a prepared statement. “As a result, our union is withdrawing its approval of Scott Stringer’s candidacy until Ms. Kim’s accusation can be independently reviewed.”

Food & Water Action, an environmental group that touted Stringer’s climate plan, followed suit later today.

“In light of the sexual abuse charges brought against New York City mayoral candidate Scott Stringer yesterday, Food & Water Action is withdrawing its endorsement of Scott Stringer and calling for his swift withdrawal from the race,” the group said in a press release. was closing a PAC that he had set up to boost the candidate’s race.

The United Teachers ‘Federation, the city’s teachers’ union, backed Stringer in a statement.

“The UFT has a long history of working with Scott Stringer and has always found him to be both educator-friendly and women’s advocate,” the union said in a statement. At the same time, any accusation of this nature must be listened to and carefully weighed.

Kim, now a lobbyist, accused Stringer of groping and kissing her without her consent after a night out at a bar during her public advocacy campaign in 2001. She also alleged that on several cab rides , he put his hands on her thigh and between her legs and said, “Why don’t you wanna fuck me?” when she refused his advances. She said he promised her a post as district chief in exchange for keeping the allegations silent.

Stringer denied the charges and said the two were in a casual, consensual relationship. He hit the airwaves Thursday morning to tell his story, insisting Kim was not an intern and that he hadn’t touched her inappropriately.

He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, also gathered several dozen of his supporters during a Zoom call on Thursday morning. Among them, according to someone familiar with the call, was United Teachers’ Federation president Michael Mulgrew; Jonathan Westin, head of New York Communities for Change; and Albany lawmakers Linda Rosenthal, Gustavo Rivera, Alessandra Biaggi and Yuh-Line Niou.

Biaggi and Niou were due to host a town hall on sexual harassment on Thursday evening but were canceled.

“They’re obviously pretty broken up about all of this, but I think Scott is pretty determined to move forward,” said the person on Stringer’s call of his supporters. “He’s going to keep pushing. For the most part, I think everyone was sort of aligned. There is nothing else you can do – if you say these things are wrong, there is nothing else you can do but move on.

Although the allegation shocked supporters and staff alike, the Stringer campaign questioned the validity of Kim’s accusations, pointing to inconsistencies in her story.

Campaign spokeswoman Tyrone Stevens said Kim had mistakenly identified herself as an unpaid intern. He took issue with his attorney’s claim on Wednesday that Kim had not donated to Stringer, as well as his position that Kim had not looked for a job during the 2013 campaign.

Through her lawyer, Patricia Pastor, Kim later said that she was an unpaid staff volunteer, donated in 2001 before the alleged assaults, and then again during her tenure as a lobbyist, and that his attempt to seek a role in the 2013 Stringer campaign was not. seriously isn’t.

Pastor said she called Kim an intern because she was inexperienced and unpaid – a distinction the Stringer campaign seized as a lie.

An email from the Stringer campaign says Kim reached out to a longtime Stringer staff member in 2013 to offer the candidate her connections at a Korean attorneys event when Stringer ran for controller.

Kim’s attorney did not dispute the authenticity of the email.

“Jean was planning to work for [rival candidate] Eliot Spitzer. That’s what she wanted to do, ”Pastor said in an interview, acknowledging that Kim had emailed Stringer staff member Sascha Owen for a job. “[Kim] addressed his campaign to give them the right of first refusal.

Kim donated $ 410 to Stringer campaigns between 2008 and 2010 according to campaign fundraising records.

“In each case, the documented facts support Scott’s description of the events,” Stevens said in a statement.

The Stringer campaign also shared poll petitions that Jean Kim gathered on which Andrew Yang is listed as a mayoral candidate.

The pastor said Esther Yang, who is unrelated to Andrew Yang, has asked Kim to petition on her behalf in her run as local district chief. The pastor told POLITICO that the candidates are on a list and do not demonstrate that Kim is working for the mayor’s rival campaign.

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