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Panel Recommends Expulsion, or Censure, for Monserrate

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The New York Senate committee that investigated Sen. Hiram Monserrate is recommending the full Senate vote to expel or censure him.

The 42-year-old senator was convicted of a misdemeanor assault last year for dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, across his apartment building lobby, but was acquitted of a felony. Giraldo later called the incident an accident.

The Senate committee issued a report today, faulting the Queens Democrat for failing to cooperate or appear at its hearings and for showing little remorse in recent press interviews. The committee says Monserrate's actions hurt the reputation of the Senate.

The report recommends that Monseratte be either expelled from the Senate, or if that vote fails, then censured with the revocation of perks like committee posts, seniority, and other privileges. "Sen. Monseratte’s conduct warrants sanctions," says Sen. Andrew Lanza, co-chair of the committee. At least one of the nine Senators on the committee personally recommends that Monseratte be ousted from the Senate. Sen. Cathy Young, a Republican from Olean, says domestic violence cannot be tolerated and that Monseratte "needs to go." The head of the state’s Democratic Party, Jay Jacobs, is calling for the Senator’s immediate resignation.

Monserrate says he won't give up his job even if expelled -- and he's ready to fight for his seat. The Senator told reporters he's sorry for becoming a distraction in the Senate, but insists he belongs there. His lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, says the Senate has no authority to expel him.

If the Senate does vote to expel Monserrate from its ranks, State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo says he's prepared to defend that action in court.

"They would have to vote to do that," Cuomo says. "But if they vote to do that I believe they have the legal authority to do that and I will defend the Senate in that action."

Cuomo was at an event with State Senator Jose Serrano of the Bronx. Serrano says he'll have to read the report first before deciding whether to censure or expel Monserrate.

Click here for the full report (PDF).

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