Jessica Lappin rescinds her endorsement of Micah Kellner
City Councilwoman Jessica Lappin withdrew her endorsement of Assemblyman Micah Kellner this afternoon, citing a New York Times story about inappropriate messages he exchanged with staffers in years past.
Kellner is running for the Council seat currently held by Lappin, who is running for Manhattan borough president.
In a statement from her campaign, Lappin said, "Today’s New York Times story about Assemblyman Kellner was deeply troubling. His behavior was clearly wrong and inappropriate, as he himself acknowledged. Because of the seriousness of the issue, I am withdrawing my endorsement of him for the City Council seat I currently hold.”
Lappin, who represents Manhattan's East Side and Roosevelt Island, is running for Manhattan borough president. The Times story described inappropriate messages Kellner sent to a young female staffer four years ago. The correspondence was brought to the attention of a top attorney to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, but never investigated.
Kellner released a statement apologizing for the incident: "It was inappropriate. I was wrong and it was stupid. When I was told that my staffer felt the messages were unprofessional, I immediately stopped and regretted placing her in that position. I was sorry then and I am sorry now."
The Times also reported that another of Kellner's former female staffers "voiced similar concerns two years later." The paper, which reviewed transcripts of the messages also reported that there was no evidence the two episodes, in 2009 and 2011, were "anything other than verbal in nature."
When reached for comment, a spokesman for Kellner's campaign wrote in an email "Assembly Member Kellner only has the greatest admiration for Council Member Lappin and respects her decision."
Kellner faces two primary opponents: Ben Kallos, a lawyer and Democratic activist, and Edward Hartzog, a lawyer who has served on the local community board. Kellner is better known than both rivals, and has surpassed them in fund-raising.