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Former Bullock aide had prior history of sexual-harassment accusation, firing

Posted at 12:17 PM, Jan 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-01-29 19:51:21-05

HELENA – The New York Times reported this week that a former top aide to Gov. Steve Bullock, who resigned from the New York mayor’s office last year in the wake of sexual-harassment accusations, was also fired at the Democratic Governors Association in 2015 for the same reason, when Bullock was its chair.

Kevin O’Brien, who ran Bullock’s 2012 gubernatorial campaign and later went to work for the DGA and New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, resigned last year from his job as senior adviser to the mayor, after being accused of sexually harassing two women.

The Times first reported the reasons for O’Brien’s March 2018 resignation two weeks ago.

The newspaper reported Monday that the DGA fired O’Brien in December 2015 after being accused of sexually harassing a female employee – just weeks before he was hired by de Blasio in early 2016 as deputy chief of staff.

Bullock “was among those who knew the reason” for O’Brien’s firing, the Times reported.

DeBlasio’s office told the New York Times this week that the mayor hadn’t known about O’Brien’s dismissal from the DGA or its reason.

In a statement provided to the Times and MTN News, Bullock said he was “deeply troubled” to learn of the circumstances of O’Brien’s 2018 resignation from the mayor’s office.

He also confirmed that he knew about the 2015 sexual-harassment complaint filed against O’Brien by a female staffer at the DGA and “fully agreed” with the DGA’s decision to fire him.

“It’s clear that was not enough to protect these women (in New York) from what has proven to be an unacceptable pattern of behavior on his part,” Bullock said. “We all have a responsibility to do better and to put an end to sexual harassment, and I’m committed to doing my part.”

Bullock’s office also said no incidents of sexual harassment by O’Brien were reported to Bullock or his office while O’Brien worked for him at the governor’s office.

In addition to running Bullock’s 2012 campaign, O’Brien also worked for Bullock when he was state attorney general and as deputy chief of staff for Gov. Bullock in 2013.

He went to work for the DGA in early 2015, when Bullock chaired the group.

After resigning from the New York mayor’s office in March 2018, O’Brien was hired by Hilltop Public Solutions, a political consultancy in New York. Hilltop fired O’Brien this month after the Times reported on the reasons for his 2018 resignation.

In a statement, O’Brien has said he is “embarrassed and ashamed” of his actions, said he has apologized to the “people I’ve hurt” and that there’s “no excuse” for how he behaved.

The Times also reported Monday that before O’Brien had been hired by the New York mayor, the city’s Department of Investigation had contacted both the DGA and Montana personnel officials for a background check.

In both cases, the department said did not receive any “adverse information” about O’Brien’s employment.

Bullock’s office said it believes the state answered the inquiry with O’Brien’s title, dates of employment and a report of no “adverse” reason for his departure.

A DGA spokesman couldn’t immediately be reached for comment Tuesday. Bullock’s office said Tuesday that he no longer chaired the DGA when New York’s inquiry was made.

-Mike Dennison reporting for MTN News