Yesterday morning, the New York Post reported that Bronx Assemblywoman Naomi Rivera had an online alter ego Daniela Rivera, a Facebook account where she was more open about her private life, including her relations with a former staffer in her office who reportedly held another full-time government job at the time. Understandably, Ms. Rivera’s electoral rivals in the September 13th Democratic primary are eager to highlight the potential conflict of interest further.
The seemingly strongest and most well-funded of those challengers, businessman Mark Gjonaj, released a statement this afternoon citing New York State’s ethics code for lawmakers and declaring “the public has the right to expect a full investigation into the conflict of interest by all appropriate government agencies.”
“Where are the records showing his official duties and responsibilities as a full-time employee?” the statement asked about the former staffer. “Where are the time sheets showing the hours he worked? Did he receive clearance from Assembly Counsel for outside income from his full time Department of Education taxpayer funded salary? Was there a competitive hiring process for the position?”
Another one of those challengers, reporter-turned-Democratic operative Adam Bermudez, was also critical.
“What is this god? Why did you give me something so unholy to be gleeful about moments after getting home from church?” he wrote on Facebook after the story broke. “Full disclosure: I presently have no secret girl-toy or boy-toy on any tax paid payroll unlike my opponent. I also have never donated to the RNC or John McCain like my other opponent. I’M ACTUALLY THE BEST DEMOCRAT IN THIS RACE! I KNOW ITS CRAZY, BUT VOTE FOR ME, MAYBE?”
Viewthe Gjonaj campaign’s full statement below:
Yesterday’s New York Post story by Candice Giove raises serious questions and concerns. The reported hiring of Ms. Rivera’s boyfriend for a full-time job in her district office is a clear impropriety. The fact that Mr. Torres was already working a full-time job for the Department of Education raises the question of how many full-time jobs can the tax payers pay him for. The public has the right to have their elected officials carry themselves in a manner that positively reflects on their community. We will let the voters decide on that question.
New York State Public Officers Law Section 73 14(a) explicitly prohibits family members from working for one another and this situation is no different. It also raises the following set of questions that the public has the right to know:
Where are the records showing his official duties and responsibilities as a full-time employee? Where are the time sheets showing the hours he worked? Did he receive clearance from Assembly Counsel for outside income from his full time Department of Education taxpayer funded salary? Was there a competitive hiring process for the position?
In light of these outstanding issues the public has the right to expect a full investigation into the conflict of interest by all appropriate government agencies.