A City Council member-elect who has been entangled in a residency dispute since becoming the first Haitian elected to the council, calls himself a doctor and has listed it as his occupation when donating money to political candidates in recent years, but has never been licensed to practice medicine in America.
Mathieu Eugene, the political newcomer endorsed by Rep. Yvette Clarke to take over her vacated council seat in central Brooklyn's District 40, said though a spokesman, Scott Levenson, that he has never practiced medicine in America but identifies himself as a doctor because he holds a medical degree from North East University in Mexico.
"I am professionally trained as a medical doctor. I went to school as a medical doctor, and I have a degree as a medical doctor," Mr. Levenson said Dr. Eugene told him. Dr. Eugene identifies himself as a medical doctor no matter what job title he holds, Mr. Levenson said.
The council's Office of Investigation is probing the candidate's recent residential history to determine if he lived in the district on Election Day, a requirement to hold office.
Dr. Eugene's historic win last month was threatened almost immediately by allegations he had not moved into District 40, which includes parts of Crown Heights and Flatbush, before the election. He had been living most recently with his wife and two children in Canarsie.
Dr. Eugene's campaign officials insist he moved into a three-bedroom apartment on Argyle Road in District 40 in early February, well before the election, and say they have a lease to prove it. They have refused to provide a copy to the New York Sun.
He will attend a rally with supporters at City Hall today following the New York City Board of Election's expected certification of the election, and his campaign is going to call for him to be sworn in to office. A swearing-in ceremony for Dr. Eugene and a former assemblyman, Vincent Ignizio, elected to represent southern Staten Island, was canceled last month amid the residency allegations.
A spokeswoman for Speaker Christine Quinn, Maria Alvarado, said in a statement yesterday that as of last night, the council had not received a signed, sworn statement from Dr. Eugene confirming he meets the qualifications to hold office.
Mr. Ignizio submitted his documentation and can be sworn in once the election is certified, she said.
According to New York City Campaign Finance Board records, Dr. Eugene has donated money to council candidates 16 times and listed his occupation on 14 of them as doctor, medical doctor, or physician. On one donation he did not state his occupation, and on another he wrote that he is the executive director of Youth for Education and Sports, the Brooklyn-based nonprofit organization where he works.
Dr. Eugene would not respond to several follow-up questions from the Sun about his professional history, saying through Mr. Levenson that he is not going "to participate in what seems like it's becoming a witch hunt. And this attempt to put his resume under a microscope when he ran for public office and was honest and forthcoming during that process is not something he is going to participate in."