Adams adviser resigns from new city post after questions about Democratic Party post

The husband of a top Brooklyn Democratic Party leader resigned from his newly appointed post in Mayor Eric Adams’ administration on Friday – the same day THE CITY asked about rules that appear to prohibit him from simultaneously maintaining a key role in a political party.

Edu Hermelyn, a district leader for Brooklyn Democrats in Crown Heights, was only recently named a “senior advisor for strategic initiatives” at the Department of Human Services, City Limits reported.

He is married to party leader Rodneyse Bichotte, who is also a Brooklyn Assemblyman. She was a strong supporter of Adams in his mayoral campaign, and Hermelyn’s consulting firm earned over $80,000 in fees during Adams’s mayoral campaign.

Bichotte speaks at the New York State Democratic Convention in Midtown, February 17, 2022.
Hiram Alejandro Durán/ THE CITY

His resignation was revealed by a city hall spokesperson after THE CITY asked about city rules that prohibit senior administration officials from holding political office, including that of district manager. .

Officials said Hermelyn had been cleared by the Conflict of Interest Board to serve specifically in the role of senior adviser to the Department of Human Services. They said that due to an error in the processing of his documents, he was placed on another line of employment – and when the error was identified, he decided to resign effective Friday.

They did not provide further clarification in response to additional questions.

Earlier in the day, Hermelyn did not respond to THE CITY’s requests for comment on her stance or the apparent ban on her continuing as district leader.

Brooklyn district leaders, who are unpaid, sit on the Kings County Democratic Party’s executive committee and are involved in a host of decisions that include voting on the much-regarded endorsements of candidates for judicial seats.

The party president’s control over decision-making rests largely on the support of district leaders – making allies like Bichotte’s husband essential to doing business.

Before Hermelyn’s resignation was made public, a spokesperson for a dissident group of Brooklyn Democrats said his dual role in government and politics was not washing away.

“The conflicts of interest are clear. A district leader appointed by the party chairman – his wife – now gets a government job from an elected official he backed,” said Tony Melone, communications director for the New King Democrats.

“Party leaders should put voters in their constituency first. Next June, voters will have the opportunity to elect district leaders capable of restoring integrity and transparency to our party.

leave of absence

Another senior Adams administration official, Pinchas “Pinny” Ringel, is taking a leave of absence from his government job in the meantime after THE CITY asked about his declared candidacy for leader of the Democratic district of Brooklyn.

A city hall spokesperson said Ringel had planned to take the leave after forming a nominating committee, as required by city rules, but out of an abundance of caution, he would begin the leave next week.

Ringel, an influential liaison between City Hall and Jewish communities, announced earlier this week that he was running for district leader — with reported backing from party leader Bichotte Hermelyn — in a bid to unseat an incumbent who supported Andrew Yang for mayor instead of Adams.

Pinny Ringel touts her relationship with Mayor Eric Adams in her Twitter bio.

Pinny Ringel touts her relationship with Mayor Eric Adams in her Twitter bio.
Screenshot/Pinny Ringel/Twitter

City records show that Ringel, a longtime senior aide to former Mayor Bill de Blasio, was appointed Dec. 26 in the final days of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s administration as executive aide to $150,000 a year to the commissioner of the Department of Sanitation, after years on the payroll of the city’s child welfare agency.

The publication Hamodia, which first reported on Ringel’s candidacy for district manager in the 48th Assembly district covering Borough Park and Midwood in Brooklyn, said his current role was that of deputy commissioner of the mayor’s community affairs unit, following a promotion under de Blasio last May.

Brooklyn election attorney Howard Graubard – a frequent critic of the party committee – told THE CITY that given Ringel’s duties, a position as district manager should in fact be barred under the staff rules of the city.

“It doesn’t seem to me that he is forbidden to run. It seems more likely that he will be banned from serving,” said Graubard, who tweeted on restrictions Thursday.

“Back when I was working in the mayor’s office, in a slightly lower position than Pinny, they forced me to resign from the Democratic county committee,” he wrote of his stint in the administration of former Mayor David Dinkins.

Another high-ranking member of the Adams administration, former City Councilman Mark Treyger, has decided to step down as leader of Brooklyn’s Democratic borough as he assumes his new role as director of intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Education in January, a source close to the Brooklyn party told THE CITY.

Reached by phone, Ringel did not respond to questions from THE CITY, and Treyger did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.

Generally ignored

A 2009 memo from the city’s legal department details the strict rules governing the political behavior of city employees, including the 1988 mayor’s staff ordinance highlighted by Graubard.

It reads as follows: “Employees of the management of the mayor’s agencies serving in unclassified, exempt or non-competitive titles or serving provisionally in competitive titles are not authorized to serve as officers of a political party or of a political organization or to serve as members of a political party committee. , including the district head of the political party.

The memo also highlights a section of the city charter that similarly prohibits city officials with substantial decision-making power from holding political office, including the district manager.

Determining which workers have policy-making functions is determined by agency heads, who are required to annually file a list of such employees with the city’s Conflict of Interest Committee. Ringel was not named in the most recent list, according to COIB records.

Bob Croghan, president of the civil service union, the Staff Analysts Organisation, said rules barring political roles for appointees to high government positions have generally been ignored by mayoral administrations over the years.

“If you’re a district chief, you’re going to be deeply involved in politics,” he said. “Does that mean you shouldn’t be appointed to a position?” An argument could be made both ways.

party war

Ringel’s bid to become a ward leader and Hermelyn’s choice to remain one could spark further turmoil within the Brooklyn Democratic organization.

Political operatives have claimed Ringel is coming forward at the behest of Bichotte and other Adams allies to overthrow current district leader David Schwartz – who has been at odds with party bosses on a number of issues and endorsed former mayoral candidate Andrew Yang in the mayoral race against Adams.

This week, a senior Adams administration official reportedly called three city council members asking them to rescind their publicly tweeted support for Schwartz, according to the New York Daily News.

The three newly elected Council members took down their tweets, the publication said.

Reached by phone, Schwartz declined to comment.

Hermelyn, meanwhile, faced public calls to resign as district leader after an incident late last year at a Democratic Party Zoom meeting in which he allegedly recited a sexist and raunchy song in Spanish, which critics said was directed at a party rival. . Hermelyn later claimed that he did not understand the words he spoke.

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