New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio’s former top aide, Kevin O’Brien, was forced to resign from his position in Feb. 15, 2018, after it had been discovered that two female employees filed sexual harassment complaints against him.
The New York Times, via investigative reporting, wrote about the resignation and the sexual harassment claims, which were substantiated earlier this month. The mayor’s former chief of staff had a reported annual salary of $220,652. Although O’Brien “left” the position immediately, he was still paid until late March 2018.
City Hall hasn’t released any details regarding O’Brien’s sudden departure in an effort to protect the two women who made the allegations against him.
First Assistant Corporation Counsel Georgia Pestana, who works with the mayor, said: “When you terminate someone, that can be challenged and the offer to resign was one that would take the risk that he would challenge the termination away. If you challenge the termination, the women would likely have been exposed. So my interest was always to protect them and accepting his resignation in lieu of termination was the choice that I made in order to reduce the risk for those women.”
However, The New York Times did manage to find one of the women involved and she was contacted for a comment but declined.
Mayor De Blasio spoke about the ordeal expressing that ” he was sickened” and “livid” by the situation.
But those feelings didn’t keep O’Brien from starting a new position in April 2018. Of course, details of his “resignation” could not legally be released but his new job was given to him by a close acquaintance of the mayor.
The company, Hilltop Public Solutions, is a political consulting and lobbying firm owned by Nick Baldick. Despite the fact that Mayor De Blasio and Baldick have had at least a political relationship for over 20 years, the mayor said he and Baldick are not in “close communication.”
“I don’t talk to him that often and only recently did I even know that Mr. O’Brien had gone to work for him,” the mayor said.
This past Thursday, O’Brien was fired from Hilltop.
The New York Times, on Monday, published another story uncovering another position prior to O’Brien taking his position in New York. Apparently, he had been a senior advisor for Gov. Steve Bullock of Montana in early 2015. O’Brien served under Bullock for a year, even representing him in Washington D.C. for the organization (Democratic Governors Association). He was dismissed in December 2015 for the same substantiated claims of sexual harassment.
Mayor De Blasio states he wasn’t aware of the previous accusations even though an extensive background check was supposedly done before his office hired O’Brien.
“He was made aware of the prior situation for the first time today, as a result of your [The New York Times] reporting,” Mr. Phillips, who is the press secretary for the mayor, said.
What’s even more strange is the background check conducted by the Department of Investigation “received confirmation of title and work dates and no adverse information” about Mr. O’Brien’s employment.
It’s understandable if the details aren’t disclosed to employers verifying his employment but surely “adverse information” such as sexual harassment should be listed. And given his latest offense, it should be listed twice.