Capitol Notes

NY Democratic Chair Jay Jacobs defends ‘tough talk’ at Capitol

New York State Democratic Party Chair Jay Jacobs says “bullying” has no place in state government, but he doesn’t condemn “tough talk” at the Capitol.

The conversation about what’s acceptable at the Capitol stemmed from comments Jacobs made Tuesday night on Inside City Hall, where he said, “They play hardball up in Albany, there’s no question about it” and “ You have to have a thick skin to work up there.”

Speaking Wednesday morning on The Capitol Pressroom, Jacobs stressed that his comments were not “in the context of women” and was referring to the culture in Albany more broadly.

“I don’t think anybody should put up with bullying, and I don’t think anybody should put up with harassment.  I don’t think that’s an appropriate way of doing business, but I will tell you that I have been there and I have seen and I have been on the (receiving) end of voices being raised, and yelling and anger and all sorts of harsh interactions with people in the process of passing bills,” Jacobs said.

He said that government business should not be conducted in a “rude, crass, uncivil, harassing, or bullying fashion.” “But I think you have to have a thick skin when you’re up there and be clear as to what’s just tough talk and what’s bullying .… Just calling something – that’s tough talk – bullying is not appropriate,” Jacobs said.

“It’s not an easy business up there. The politics are fast and at times they’re furious. So you just have to be careful of that.”

Asked whether the probe into the governor’s alleged sexual misconduct should be expanded to review the broader culture fostered at the Capitol by Cuomo, Jacobs said, “I think that the attorney general’s investigation should be focused on what was called for and that is the issues of sexual misconduct, sexual harassment, etc.”

The full conversation with Jacobs is available below.

Asked Wednesday morning about the comments on Inside City Hall by Jacobs and whether state employees should be subject to verbal abuse, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli told The Capitol Pressroom that the most “productive” workplaces are where people are sensitive and respectful of each other.

“I don’t think it’s a question of developing tough skin, I think it’s a question of people respecting each other and understanding how something could be said or done that could be very hurtful to someone and we need to work harder at that at all levels of society, and that includes New York state government,” DiNapoli said.


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