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Trump Pardon Turns Out to Be Useless for Ex-Observer Editor

Ken Kurson in 2015. Photo: J Grassi/Patrick McMullan/Getty Images

Ken Kurson, the former editor of the New York Observer, was arrested in New York on cyberstalking charges on Wednesday, less than seven months after Donald Trump pardoned him on similar federal charges.

It’s a reversal of fortune for the close ally of Jared Kushner and Rudy Giuliani, who was one of 73 fine individuals who was granted a full pardon from Trump on his last day as president. That pardon only applied to the federal cyberstalking charges Kurson was hit with; the act of clemency is useless against states charges such as the ones the Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr. brought on Wednesday. According to the new charges, Kurson allegedly used spyware to get into his then-wife’s computer in 2015 amid the collapse of their marriage. Once the spyware was in place, Kurson monitored her keystrokes from the office of the Observer, which provided him with the passwords to her Gmail and Facebook accounts from September 2015 to March 2016, amid their divorce process. Court papers state that Kurson also “anonymously disseminated” her private Facebook messages in October 2015.

In a statement Wednesday, Vance said, “We will not accept presidential pardons as get-out-of-jail-free cards for the well-connected in New York.” CNN reports that Kurson was arraigned and released from custody, but did not enter a plea after previously denying the federal charges.

The ex-Observer big’s legal woes began in 2018, when the Trump administration reportedly considered him as nominee for a seat on the board of the National Endowment for the Humanities. However, a routine FBI background check reportedly revealed he harassed a doctor at Mount Sinai by sending menacing emails, writing false Yelp reviews, and threatening to reveal to her employer that she was having an affair. Federal prosecutors eventually charged Kurson with harassing and cyberstalking the doctor and two others. He has also been accused by the journalist Deborah Copaken of sexual harassment.

Trump Pardon Turns Out to Be Useless for Ex-Observer Editor