Exclusive: Rep. Steve Israel Files for Divorce 3 Years After Announcement


U.S. Rep. Steve Israel (D-Dix Hills) filed for divorce last month from his second wife, Suffolk County Judge Marlene Budd, three years after the couple first announced that they were divorcing.

The lawsuit was dated Nov. 6—four days after Israel won his eighth term over Republican challenger Grant Lally—and the papers were filed Nov. 12 at New York State Supreme Court in Suffolk County, according to court documents obtained by the Press.

“The relationship between husband and wife has broken down irretrievably for a period of six months or more,” says the lawsuit, which seeks equitable distribution of the marital property, plus attorney’s fees for the congressman.

The couple announced their plans to split in a joint statement issued by the congressman’s office on the eve of their eighth anniversary over Memorial Day weekend in 2011, according to a Newsday report at the time. The reason for the split was not disclosed.

Israel has two children from his first marriage. Budd was also married once before. They met while they were serving on the Huntington Town board together and tied the knot in 2003—a year after Israel’s first divorce and two years after he was first elected to Congress.

The 56-year-old Congressman recently declined to seek a third term as head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee after Republicans picked up 13 seats to achieve their largest majority in the U.S. House of Representatives in 83 years. The GOP also stripped Democrats of their majority in the U.S. Senate.

On Dec. 30, he is scheduled to release a novel, The Global War on Morris, billed as a political satire about a pharmaceutical salesman from Long Island who cheats on his wife with a receptionist while government spies track his movements.

Israel represents the Third Congressional District, which includes northeast Queens, North Hempstead, Oyster Bay and Smithtown. His attorney from the Commack-based firm of Sarisohn Law Partners did not return a call for comment. A representative from his congressional office declined to comment.

Budd, 48, was elected to her first term as a Family Court judge in 2005 and is up for re-election in 2016. The judge was served with the papers earlier this month and must reply by the end of this year. She declined to comment.

The New York Post first reported that Israel had yet to file for divorce despite the announcement three years prior, but a representative of the congressman dismissed the story as an attempt to smear him two days before Election Day.

The case did not yet have a court date or an assigned judge as of this story.