New York Rep. Danny O’Donnell has been accused of sexism for telling fellow Democrat Catalina Cruz to ‘grow a pair’
ALBANY — Rep. Danny O’Donnell (D-Manhattan) told a fellow Democrat to “grow a pair, honey” during a committee meeting earlier this week after she refused to vote for his preferred path.
O’Donnell had objected to a legislative sleight of hand used by Codes Committee Chairman Jeffrey Dinowitz (D-Bronx) to obtain a… controversial bill on the confiscation of guns at scenes of domestic violence for the second time in two weeks.
The Manhattan Democrat then rose from his chair to leave the session — loudly whispering the sexist comment to Rep. Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) on the way out. Video footage excavated from NY1 shows.
“I don’t care who’s in here. I am a woman of color. i am a lawyer And by a man, by a white man, to be spoken to like that in front of people — that’s not okay,” Rep. Catalina Cruz (D-Queens) told colleagues before exiting the gathering herself.
O’Donnell’s sexist comment follows other allegations this year of misconduct by Democratic members in a legislative chamber that has historically been plagued by sexual harassment and misconduct, despite recent steps towards greater accountability.
“If I were in his position, I would apologize to Rep. Cruz,” Dinowitz said Friday.
O’Donnell and Cruz did not comment.
House Speaker Carl Heastie (D-Bronx) and Cruz have declined to join calls for Rep. Juan Ardila (D-Queens) to resign after two women made allegations of sexual misconduct.
“The allegations made are serious and the behavior described was totally unacceptable. But I think that’s a decision that Juan and his constituents need to think about for themselves,” Heastie told reporters at the Capitol on March 15.
But the Bronx power broker has sidelined Ardila on important issues like allocating funds to local community groups as he continues to fight for his political life after initially denying allegations, which he no longer denies.
It remains unclear if Heastie has taken similar steps with Rep. Pat Burke (D-Buffalo), who faces allegations of sexual harassment, including showing pornographic videos of his underage son and girlfriend having sex — allegations Burke has strongly denied .
After the allegations became public in mid-April, the assembly launched an investigation. The Buffalo News reported at the time.
O’Donnell’s crude comment, while less weighty, fuels calls for the Assembly Chairs to be more aggressive in addressing sexual harassment and misconduct, particularly given the Chamber’s long-standing reputation as a bastion of misconduct that led to historic sexual harassment legislation under heastie.
“Harassment and discrimination always happen, always on a large scale,” said Erica Vladimer, co-founder of the Sexual Harassment Working Group, founded by former Legislature employees.
“But no matter where harassment or discrimination of this magnitude occurs, it needs to be addressed… If the smaller things aren’t addressed, that culture of no-dealing can then perpetuate where even greater harm is being done.”
A Heastie spokesman didn’t comment Friday on what consequences, if any, O’Donnell might face.