State Senator Kevin Parker’s impulse control issues are starting to cost him — dearly.
The embattled brawler known for responding to some challengers (particularly meter maids) with his fists was stripped of a plum legislative post as well as a committee chairmanship Saturday, after he was arrested for allegedly attacking a newspaper photographer outside his parents’ East Flatbush home.
If convicted of the charges, which include felony criminal mischief, he could lose his State Senate seat, as well as spend a year and a half to four in jail, prosecutors and political insiders said.
During an exclusive interview with this newspaper, Parker held his head high against his detractors −− including Bay Ridge State Senator Marty Golden, who called him a “disgrace to the Senate” −− and freely acknowledged that he had a quick temper.
“People will say what they want to, but it’s up to the voters in my district to decide if my temper gets in the way of how I serve the community,” said Parker.
Fists began flying at about 7 p.m. Friday evening when Parker allegedly charged at New York Post photographer William Lopez, who was assigned to snap a few photos of Parker outside a home on Avenue H.
The Post was preparing to print a story that the four−term legislator was being sued for not paying a $610,000 mortgage on a home he co−owns with his family. The home is about to go into foreclosure, according to legal documents.
The story got juicier when Parker allegedly chased the shutterbug in a fit of rage.
He pursued Lopez around the corner to the photographer’s car. When Lopez stepped inside, Parker leapt in after him, officials alleged.
In the ensuing struggle, Parker broke the lensman’s flash. He also kicked out the interior door panel to Lopez’s 1998 Subaru Forester, according to a complaint filed with the Kings County District Attorney’s office.
Arriving officers took Parker in for questioning. After Lopez filed a complaint, Parker was charged with felony criminal mischief, misdemeanor assault and harassment.
Lopez reportedly suffered a swollen middle finger during the clash.
This is not the first time Parker’s been in trouble with the law.
In 2005, he was arrested for allegedly punching a traffic enforcement agent giving him a ticket. The charges were ultimately dropped when Parker agreed to undergo anger management counseling.
He was also accused – but never charged – with roughing up a female aide last year.
Officials said that Parker spent Friday night in jail and was released on his own recognizance after pleading not guilty during his arraignment Saturday morning.
Prosecutors wanted him held on $1,000 bail, which made his attorney Lonnie Hart wonder if the arrest and ensuing prosecution was being held to a higher standard because of Parker’s position in Albany.
“The purpose of bail is to ensure a defendants return to court,” he said. “Given Kevin Parker’s community ties are above reproach, I was a bit surprised [the DA’s office] didn’t release him on his recognizance, which I asked them to do.”
“I don’t expect be to treated any better because I’m an elected official,” Parker added. “However, I don’t think it’s fair I be over−prosecuted because I’m an elected official.”
But Parker’s night at Brooklyn Central Booking was nothing compared to the political pain he was about to face.
Parker had just been released from prison when State Senator Majority Leader Malcolm Smith announced that he had removed his longtime ally from his position as Majority Whip, as well as chairman of the Senate’s Energy Committee.
The 42−year−old legislator received $22,000 on top of his base salary for being Majority Whip. The Whip is responsible for “communicating the majority position,” according to the national conference of state legislators.
“These are serious charges which demand the attention of the proper authorities, and my decision today will stand until resolution of the proceedings that Senator Parker faces,” Smith said in a statement.
Parker quietly agreed to his leader’s decision, yet tried to save some political face at the same time.
“I cannot allow my personal issues to distract the Senate from its important work in Albany,” Parker said in a statement, claiming that he had “agreed to step aside” as Majority Whip “until the matter is resolved.”
As the case wends its way through the courts, Parker said he would “remain engaged in the important issues before the Senate and continue to work to create opportunity for the residents of the 21st District in these difficult economic times.”
Looking back at what prompted the weekend−long downward spiral, Parker said he knows a thing or two about the difficult economic times his constituents face.
Parker purchased the Avenue H house with his parents in December 2006. His parents cared for the house while he went back and forth to Albany, but everything changed in June 2007 when his father had a massive stroke and died.
“In the midst of that. I got caught up in the bottom falling out in the housing market,” Parker explained. “I’ve been for the past several months trying to work something out with the mortgage holder and have been trying to sell the house without any luck.”