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Monserrate Legal Fund Called "Million Dollar Loophole"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Government reform groups are blasting a decision by the Legislative Ethics Commission to allow Queens State Senator Hiram Monserrate to collect money to pay his legal bills, saying it creates a “million dollar loophole” in the state’s gift ban. Karen DeWitt has more.

REPORTER: NYPIRG's Russ Haven says the decision by the legislative ethics commission to allow embattled state senator Hiram Monserrate to set up a legal defence trust fund sets up a dangerous new category of gift giving to legislators and should be stopped.

HAVEN: Once the door gets opened. Not only is the door opened, but the side of the building has been blown out and we don't see any end to it.

REPORTER: Under the arrangement Monserrate won't know who the contributors are. But Haven says there's no rule against the contributor telling the senator about the donation later, when they might want the senator to act on their behalf. Monserrate, who was convicted of misdeameanor assault charges against his girlfriend is also facing possible expulsion from the senate by a committee that's hired attorney's and is now conducting a probe. From Albany, I'm Karen DeWitt

REPORTER: Calls by WNYC to Monserrate's lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, were not returned.

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