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Already indicted on federal corruption charges, City Councilman Dan Halloran (R-Whitestone) announced Wednesday he would not seek a second term in the wake of new allegations that he had affairs with both a former intern and former deputy chief of staff.
Although an initial hearing was deferred Wednesday, Halloran will be the subject of a Council Standards and Ethics Committee investigation over whether the alleged affairs violated Council rules for disorderly behavior, the meeting agenda said.
The New York Post reported Monday that Halloran, now separated from his wife Cynthia, had been seen around town with 23-year-old John Jay College of Criminal Justice student Denise Batista, a former unpaid intern. The councilman’s small, tight-knit staff was aware of the relationship before Batista ultimately resigned from Halloran’s office, a source said.
Halloran had already had a previous office fling with former Deputy Chief of Staff Meaghan Mapes, who was seen at various events with the councilman and at one point listed as in a relationship with him on the Internet, the Post said. Mapes had been long gone from Halloran’s office by the time Batista arrived, according to the newspaper.
Council Speaker Christine Quinn (D-Manhattan) said the Standards and Ethics Committee would question Halloran’s current and past staff members in the ethics probe, which could ultimately result in his removal from office after he was stripped of all assignments.
“Let me be clear. If these new allegations against Council member Halloran are true, we will throw the book at him,” Quinn said at a news conference in Throggs Neck Monday. “We have zero tolerance for sexual harassment.”
Late last week the Queens Republican Party announced it would back Dennis Saffran, a Republican challenger, for Halloran’s seat rather than the beleaguered councilman.
“This is a district we think we can hold and we want to put forward the best possible candidate,” said Robert Hornak, executive director of the Queens GOP. “We have to run competitive races up and down the ticket and hopefully that is what we have found.”
Two days after the affair allegations became public in the Post, Halloran released a statement announcing he would not seek re-election so he could spend time fighting federal charges of bribery and corruption.
“Regrettably, I must now focus my attention on clearing my name and restoring my reputation, while I continue to discharge my sworn duties as a member of the New York City Council,” Halloran said. “After much thought, I have concluded that it is impossible for me to properly do these things and take on the enormous demands of a political campaign, so I will not pursue another term in the Council.”
A grand jury indictment accused Halloran and four other lawmakers of using bribery and fraud to procure state Sen. Malcolm Smith (D-Hollis) a spot on the GOP line for the upcoming mayoral election.
Halloran and Smith pleaded not guilty to the charges in federal court in White Plains last week along with Queens Republican Party Vice Chairman Vince Tabone, former Bronx Republican Chairman Joseph Savino, Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin and Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret.
“Our nation enshrines the presumption of innocence for a reason, and I look forward to having my day in court, where I am confident that I will ultimately be vindicated,” Halloran said in the statement. “Now is the time I must work to that end.”
If convicted, Halloran and Smith face up to 45 years in prison.
The race for Halloran’s northeast Queens 19th District seat has attracted more contenders since his April 2 arrest, with candidates stepping up on both sides of the aisle.
Chrissy Voskerichian, who resigned from Halloran’s staff after he was indicted, has thrown her hat into the ring for his seat. There were also rumors that Democrat Kevin Kim, who Halloran defeated back in 2009, may run for the spot.
Other Democrats who have been in the race include Paul Graziano, an activist and urban planning consultant; Austin Shafran, a former member of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration; Paul Vallone, an attorney, who ran for the seat in 2009; former state Assemblyman John Duane, who officially announced his intentions last week.
On the Republican side, Rudy S. Giuliani, a cousin of the former mayor with the same name, has been rumored to join Saffran in vying for the seat.
Reach reporter Phil Corso by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4573.
©2013 Community Newspaper Group
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