Ryan Scott Karben is a New York Democrat who represented the state's 95th Assembly District in Albany from 2003–2006.
Education and family
Karben was born in the borough of the Bronx on September 29, 1974. In 1979, his family moved to Spring Valley, New York. Karben was a student at the Frisch School in Paramus, New Jersey. He attended Yeshiva University as a Max Stern Distinguished Scholar and graduated magna cum laude in 1996 with a B.A. in English. He then attended the Columbia Law School as a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, graduating in 1999.
Karben is a member of the American Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association.
Karben married Lauren C. Bekritsky, his high school sweetheart, in June 1996. The Karbens have three daughters.
In 1995, Karben lost his initial bid to become county legislator at the age of 21 when he finished fourth in a race for three open positions. In his concession speech at the Holiday Inn in Suffern, New York, Karben assured his supporters that he considered the election a positive experience and that he would be back.
In 1997, Karben was elected to represent Ramapo in the Rockland County Legislature. He was the youngest county lawmaker in the State of New York at that time and remains the youngest person to have served in the Rockland County Legislature. Karben was selected as majority leader of the Rockland County Legislature in 2001–2002.
In November 2002, Karben was elected to the New York State Assembly in Albany to represent the 95th district, which includes the Town of Orangetown and parts of the Town of Ramapo in Rockland County. Karben served on the Energy Committee and led an investigation of Consolidated Edison in 2004. Karben had also pushed for tougher sex-offender tracking laws and environmental cleanups at several Rockland County sites.
On May 18, 2006, Karben unexpectedly announced his resignation from the New York Assembly. It was reported that Karben had been the subject of an internal legislative investigation into alleged sexual advances toward staffers. No formal complaints against Karben were ever filed.
Karben issued a statement that made no reference to the internal inquiry but said:
It is time for a new beginning. As I have discussed with some of my friends over the past few weeks, my elected service is one piece of what I hope will be an interesting and diverse professional career. After spending more than 13 of my 31 years in public service, it is time for a change for me and my family. I was appointed to my first public position as a college freshman and leave my second elected office as a proud father of three little girls. I am stepping down today from the State Assembly to turn greater attention to them and my law practice and to fulfilling other personal and professional aspirations. I will remain an active and vocal voice for better schools, a cleaner environment and lower taxes. I am grateful for the friendship and support of so many, especially my wife Lauren, my family, my campaign volunteers and my clients. It has been a privilege to serve.
Subsequently, Karben left his position as a partner in the Spring Valley law firm of Kurtzman, Matera, Scuderi, Gurock, and Karben. The firm has refused to publicly state how they arrived at the decision for Karben to leave.
Karben had also been involved in a fundraising controversy involving Charles Kushner, a New Jersey developer who served a prison sentence for hiring prostitutes in an attempt to influence potential witnesses in a New Jersey investigation. Kushner had contributed over $40,000 to Karben's campaign, and Karben contributed $2,500 to charity after revelations about Kushner surfaced.
Current political career
Karben has been hired by the new mayor of Spring Valley, New York, Noramie Jasmin, as the village attorney. In October of that year the mayor fired him for dereliction of duty.
Following his resignation, he started his own law firm, the Law Office of Ryan Karben, based at his home in Monsey. In September 2007, Karben was named Managing Director of Fleishman-Hillard Government Relations, a national political consulting and lobbying firm. The firm fired him in 2012.