Bill Donohue recently called for a formal investigation of New York State Assemblywoman Margaret Markey. Her defamation of Brooklyn Bishop Nicholas DiMarzio warrants a probe as to whether she has violated New York State’s ethics laws. Below is a copy of Donohue’s request.
June 8, 2016
Hon. Charles D. Lavine
New York State Assembly
Legislative Office Building 441
Albany, New York 12248
Dear Assemblyman Lavine:
As chairman of the Standing Committee on Ethics and Guidance, you are empowered to commence an investigation of lawmakers who may have violated New York’s state ethics laws. Accordingly, I am requesting that you instruct the Committee to investigate Assemblywoman Margaret Markey for violating the Code of Ethics.
The Code of Ethics “Standards” section of the Public Officers Law (see #74, 3h) says that lawmakers “should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust.”
It can be reasonably maintained that Assemblywoman Markey has violated the public trust: She has slandered Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
In the lead story of the June 7 edition of the Daily News, Markey is quoted as saying that Bishop DiMarzio offered her a $5,000 bribe. She said this occurred in 2010 at Bishop Ford High School, and that a nun was present at the time (see enclosure).
Markey is wrong about the accusation, wrong about the date, wrong about the venue, and wrong about the meeting (see enclosure).
There never was a bribe, or anything close to it, and Markey does not have one piece of evidence to substantiate her scurrilous charge.
Markey now admits that she was wrong about the date—by three years: the actual meeting took place in 2007. She is also wrong about the venue: the meeting did not take place at Bishop Ford High School; rather, it was held at the Chancery Office of the Diocese of Brooklyn.
There were actually two meetings that day at the Chancery Office, not one. The first discussed the policy implications of a proposed bill by Markey; in attendance was a priest, a nun, two assemblymen, and the director of the New York State Catholic Conference. The second one, which immediately followed, was arranged to discuss more personal issues, such as assistance to abuse victims; only the bishop, Markey, and the nun were present.
The nun was Sister Ellen Patricia Finn, OP. She is quoted in the June 8 edition of the Daily News as saying, “No money, no $5,000 was ever mentioned” (see enclosure). So much for Markey’s account.
Markey’s defamation of Bishop DiMarzio is violative of the public trust. She is entrusted to represent all her constituents fairly, but given her slanderous assaults on a sitting bishop, and her unwillingness to withdraw her comments, it is not hard to conclude that she has done more than “raise suspicion among the public” about her fidelity to the public trust—she has earned an investigation by your Committee.
I implore you to pursue this matter. I feel confident that your findings will validate the account of the bishop (as represented in this letter), thus necessitating a vote to censure Assemblywoman Margaret Markey.
Thank you for your consideration.