NYC Councilman Chris Marte’s aide resigns following accusations of harassing reporter
A New York City Council staffer has resigned after allegedly berating a female journalist with misogynistic slurs.
Councilman Chris Marte said Sunday that his aide Steven Wong was resigning — after Marte initially stuck by his staffer.
Marte, a Manhattan Democrat, initially refused to fire Wong after the staffer left four voicemails with a reporter at Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily, according to a complaint filed with the City Council.
Wong allegedly called journalist Lotus Chau a “c–t” and other offensive terms in Cantonese during the February verbal attacks.
Last week, Marte said he wouldn’t fire Wong because he didn’t think the translation of the outrageous voice memos was correct.
“There is usage of Cantonese slang curse words which are unprofessional and inappropriate,” Marte said in a statement to the Daily News. “We do not find them as grounds for termination.”
He changed his tune Sunday, saying he initially knew of only one voicemail and only recently found out about three others. He said those had not been submitted to the Council’s general counsel.
“I do not know what they contain or why they were not included,” Marte said. “When I immediately contacted Mr. Wong to find out more, he said he regrets his actions and is now offering his resignation which I have accepted.
“I hope this decision can bring healing to those who were hurt by his actions,” he added.
Wong had been on administrative leave since The News first reported on his outbursts on Feb. 23, a Marte spokeswoman said Sunday. She refused to say whether he was paid during that time or not.
A local community board member cast doubt on Marte’s claim that he hadn’t known about all of the voicemails.
“I believe Marte is in damage control mode. It was reported to be multiple voicemails so how can three have been omitted to the general counsel’s office,” Karlin Chan of Manhattan’s Community Board 3 told The News. “I believe Marte realized this would come back to bite him in the election this year and asked Wong to resign.”
Susan Lee, a Manhattan lawyer who’s challenging Marte in primary elections this summer, also criticized the incumbent.
“Misogyny and bigotry have no place in civic affairs,” she said. “Marte and Wong owe an apology to Lotus Chau, and to his constituents, for even thinking he could weather the storm. This was not a close call. The buck stops with Marte.”