ALBANY – Someone else is doing his job!
Assembly Democrats are denying embattled Assemblyman Juan Ardila (D-Queens) control over funding for his district and handing it over to a colleague who – unlike Ardila – has not been accused of sex abuse.
Two women accused the freshmen pol of sexual misconduct two months ago – allegations Ardila no longer denies while refusing to resign.
“I am really grateful for leadership taking a position that demonstrates that the voices and experiences of women will matter in the hallways,” Assemblywoman Amanda Septimo (D-Bronx), who confirmed the report, said Friday.
Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Queen) will handle roughly $250,000 included in the state budget to benefit community organizations and other causes in Ardila’s district, according to multiple Assembly sources.
The move undermines Ardila’s claim that he can somehow do the job of representing 140,000 constituents despite becoming a political pariah among fellow Democrats.
Ardila was left on the sidelines during budget negotiations and some of his Democratic colleagues will not even have their photo taken with him.
The Post spotted Ardila speaking with Aubry and Assemblywoman Catalina Cruz, a political ally, on the Assembly floor on May 18, a huddle Cruz said was focused on legislation concerning a local park.
Ardila has insisted that he remains an effective legislator despite growing list of ongoing snubs from fellow pols and constituents.
“I put my statement out and am focusing on doing the work,” Ardila told The Post last month while refusing to elaborate during a tortured interview inside a state Capitol elevator.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heaste (D-Bronx), who did not respond to a request for comment Friday, has not joined fellow powerbrokers like Gov. Kathy Hochul and state Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) in calling on Ardila to resign.
Heastie says Ardila’s political future is up to him and his constituents.
The two women have said Ardila, first elected in 2022, touched them against their will while they were intoxicated at a 2015 party.
One of them said Ardila kissed her without consent and exposed himself as well.
“He is someone I consider predatory on a pathological level,” the other woman previously told the Post.
The NYPD’s special victims unit, working with the office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, has reportedly launched a criminal investigation into the claims first reported by the Queens Chronicle on March 13.
“I want the public to know that I am deeply apologetic for my past behavior and acknowledge that my actions have caused great harm,” the so-called progressive said in a March statement without elaborating on how we would ever regain voters’ trust after previously denying the women’s claims revealed day earlier.
Ardila, who is paid $142,000 per year, has also faced criticism for allegedly owing $19,200 in back rent to a former landlord alongside other charges like dangerous driving and social media posts from years ago filled with homophobic and racist language, which he later apologized for.
“Not only is Juan Ardila an accused sexual predator, racist, homophobe, and reckless driver, but now we learn he’s a deadbeat who doesn’t pay his rent,” said City Councilman Robert Holden (D-Maspeth).
“Juan Ardila should not hold any political office and should resign immediately.”
But Ardila nonetheless regularly posts on social media holiday messages, photos, and thoughts on political matters as if he were just a regular Assembly member.
Members of the legislature traditionally spend the months following the passage of a budget deciding which organizations and causes deserve a cut of money earmarked for their districts before announcing the money to fanfare – sometimes with photo ops featuring oversized checks.
Stripping him of authority over discretionary spending will prevent Ardila from leveraging the money to solidify his eroding standing in the district.
Aubry, who did not respond to a request for comment, will have to do double duty this year without the intimate knowledge of Assembly District 37 represented for years by retired Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan.
The sprawling Queens district includes parts of Long Island City, Maspeth, Sunnyside, and Ridgewood while Aubry reps District 35 based in relatively faraway East Elmhurst.
“There were a lot of community benefit organizations in Assembly District 37 that depend on that money,” Democratic District Leader Émilia Decaudin, who has expressed interest in running for Ardila’s seat, said.
The discretionary funding issue is just one more sign that Ardila should resign, according to Decaudin and a long list of other local pols and statewide power players.
“It’s a real problem and I think it’s due to his inability to address the allegations,” Decaudin said. “He’s just not able to represent the districts and our community suffering for it.”
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