Ada Smith accused of firing aide for sexual orientation

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Wayne Mahlke, 42, of Elmhurst, filed the complaint with the state Division of Human Rights, saying Smith, 59, often called him gay and racist names and put him on probation after he told her he was fed up with the alleged abuse, Mahlke said.

"The complaint details a series of incidents when the senator degraded me based on my sexual orientation and my being a white male," said Mahlke, who serves as the vice president for the Lesbian and Gay Democratic Club of Queens. "She called me a 'fat, gay bastard,' and told me I was 'white trash.'"

Smith vehemently denied the allegations levied by Mahlke, who worked as Smith's chief of staff from April 2003 to December 2003.

"I can't even think of a word for it," she said. "I hired him knowing his sexual orientation. And in looking at me you can tell that I have family members that are Caucasian."

Smith contends that she had problems with Mahlke as a chief of staff because he was unproductive and disorganized. He also preferred to work in the Queens district office rather than in the Albany office, even though Smith told him that would be a requirement when he took the job, the lawmaker said.

"As a chief of staff, the main responsibilities are here in Albany," Smith said. "He came up once from the time I hired him last year in April."

Smith also put him on probation last fall and told him to report to Minority Leader David Paterson's Manhattan office for counseling on how to improve his performance, she said.

But Mahlke said he was put on probation after he defended himself against the alleged slurs.

"The time when I was put on probation was the first time I stood up to her and said I wasn't going to take the abuse," he said.

Mahlke also told Paterson's staff about her alleged behavior, but they said there was nothing they could do about it, he said.

Representatives for Paterson's office did not return a call seeking comment.

"The state Legislature is not a safe place for an openly gay man," Mahlke said. "I think it's time for the elected officials, including the minority leader, to stand up and put into practice what they say they stand for."

A spokeswoman from the state Division of Human Rights said the complaint was being investigated. A hearing will be convened if an investigator determines there is probable cause to believe that discrimination took place, she said.

Smith made headlines earlier this year when she was convicted of disobeying a state trooper after speeding past a security checkpoint in an Albany garage and yelling profanities at the officer.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at, or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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