Councilman Kelly Fires Back At Committee Of 70

City Councilman Jack Kelly, speaking through a staffer this evening, ripped Zack Stalberg and the Committee of 70 for the press release below.  Stalberg, in the release earlier today, referenced a Daily News story about Kelly's request last week for a $25,000 annual city contract to pay political operative Frank Keel to serve as a media consultant for his office.

"Mr. Stalberg's statements about Councilman Kelly were reckless, irresponsible and intentional, outlandish lies," Kelly's acting chief of staff, John Cerrone, said. "Councilman Kelly is disappointed that someone such as Zack Stalberg, who is supposed to take the ethical high road, would deliberately distort the situation and defame the councilman."

Councilman Jack Kelly is fired up about a Committee of 70 press release today.

Cerrone added that Kelly is now "exploring a legal course of action" against Stalberg and the Committee of 70.  Asked to point out which of Stalberg's comments Kelly found to be reckless, irresponsible, distortions or defamatory, Cerrone said: "I'm not going to say any more."

Here's what Stalberg said in the release, which called for a review of how Council is structured and operates:  "It is appalling that Councilman Kelly would even think about asking taxpayers to foot the bill for a consultant to handle media questions related to the federal criminal indictment of his former chief of staff Chris Wright.  Since when does the city provide private press consultants for members of Council to respond to allegations concerning their ex-employees."

Wright took an unpaid leave of absence last month from his $97,179-a-year post, two weeks after he was indicted along with Kelly's campaign treasurer and two brothers who have made political contributions to the councilman.  Wright is accused of using his City Hall post to help his co-defendants in return for bribes and favors.