Lester Chang won’t be expelled from Assembly despite ‘significant concerns’; evidence to be sent to state authorities for further review

Assemblymember Lester Chang won’t be expelled from the state Assembly over questions of his residency, Speaker Carl E. Heastie introduced on Friday.

“After careful review, the vast majority of our members have significant concerns about the truthfulness of Mr. Chang’s documentary evidence and testimony regarding his compliance with the New York State Constitution,” Heastie stated in a Jan. 6 assertion. “Although it is clear that there were more than enough votes to expel Mr. Chang, we will not do so at this time.”

carl heastie
Heastie said the body will not expel Chang at this time, despite concerns as to the validity of his residency and testimony. Photo courtesy NYS Assembly

Local politicians and voters raised concerns regarding Chang’s residency simply days after his victory over longtime Democratic incumbent Peter J. Abbate, Jr., in Assembly District 49 in southern Brooklyn in November. The state structure requires that legislators dwell within the districts they symbolize for a full yr earlier than the election, and Chang has lengthy maintained a residence in decrease Manhattan. Heastie ordered an investigation, which discovered that Chang had solely modified his voter registration to Brooklyn in February 2022, and had paychecks and different mail sent in his title to the Manhattan handle by means of a minimum of September 2022.

Chang and his attorneys claimed he had spent many of the final two years dwelling in his childhood residence in Midwood together with his mom, and stored the Manhattan handle for comfort and consistency. 

Democrats reportedly spent hours in conferences reviewing the report and debating their determination throughout the first days of the legislative session, however struggled to come to a conclusion — the report alleged that Chang had been not more than a “visitor” to Kings County from November of 2021 to November of 2022, however made no formal advice as to what motion ought to be taken. Whereas legislators might have had “significant concerns” about Chang’s residency, in addition they fearful about alienating voters in the event that they selected to expel him. 

lester chang being sworn in
Assembly Democrats reportedly met for hours on Jan. 3, however didn’t come to an settlement on what to do as Chang was worn into workplace. Picture courtesy Assemblymember Lester Chang/Twitter

Although Chang will stay within the Assembly for now, Heastie stated the physique is just not wiping away its doubts. Throughout a Dec. 21 listening to, Chang testified that his Manhattan house — the place he claims to have spent little time over the past three years — is rent-regulated. By legislation, rent-regulated residences should be the tenant’s major residence. In his Jan. 6 assertion, Heastie referred to “government subsidies” Chang had accessed to pay lease on the unit.

“However, given the totality of the evidence we have decided to forward the materials gathered pursuant to the committee’s subpoenas and from Mr. Chang’s own submissions to relevant criminal, civil and administrative authorities for further review and any action they deem necessary,” Heastie stated. “As a reminder, the New York State Constitution gives the Assembly the authority to revisit this issue at any time.”

The speaker has reportedly mentioned sending that evidence to state Lawyer Basic Letitia James for review. Per state legislation, James has the authority to take motion towards anybody who takes workplace unlawfully. 

As well as, Heastie stated the ordeal had “brought to light electoral issues,” and that the Assembly would be transferring to create new laws to handle these points within the close to future. He didn’t elaborate on what these points had been. 

“Let this be a warning to anyone who tries to dupe voters – the political manipulation of residency will not go unchecked,” the Speaker concluded.

Chang thanked voters — and his colleagues — in a Friday night assertion.

“My Brooklyn neighbors desperately need relief from New York’s high crime rates, exorbitant cost of living, and nation-leading taxes,” he stated. “I promise to fight for them in Albany with the same passion and mettle with which I served in the U.S. Navy Reserves. I will also lead the fight in Albany for merit-based public school opportunities for hardworking students. I thank my Brooklyn neighbors, and all my Assembly teammates, for their faith in my abilities. It will be an honor serving them for the next two years.”

Replace 1/6/23, 5:56pm: This story has been up to date with remark from Assemblymember Lester Chang. 

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