Senate Panel: Expel or Censure Monserrate

The Queens pol says he won't go, no matter the ruling

Thursday, Jan 14, 2010  |  Updated 3:02 PM EDT
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No Jail Time for State Senator  Monserrate

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Hiram Monserrate says he won't leave his post in the Senate, even if a panel recommends his expulsion.

Photos and Videos

First Look: Surveillance Video Played in Monserrate Assault Case

Grainy surveillance images are played by prosecutors in Sen. Hiram Monserrate's domestic violence trial in State Supreme Court in Queens. The video of the pair is captured on five cameras, prosecutors explained.

No Jail Time for State Senator Monserrate

State Senator Hiram Monserrate sentenced to three years of probation, 250 hours of community service and 52 weeks of anger management for recklessly causing physical injury to his girlfriend.
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The New York Senate committee that investigated Sen. Hiram Monserrate after his misdemeanor assault conviction recommended Thursday that the full Senate vote to expel or censure him "as soon as reasonably possible.''

     In a report, the committee faulted the Queens Democrat for failing to cooperate or appear at its hearings and for showing little remorse in recent news interviews about what a judge concluded was a domestic incident.
    
Monserrate was convicted of dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, but was acquitted of a felony. A felony conviction would have automatically cost him his job. Giraldo's face was slashed by broken glass during what both later called an accident.
    
The report states that Monserrate's behavior "showed a reckless disregard'' for the woman's well-being and "and for the severity of her injury.''
    
"Senator Monserrate's misconduct damages the integrity and the reputation of the New York state Senate and demonstrates a lack of fitness to serve in this body,'' the report concluded.
    
Monserrate has said he won't give up his job even if expelled. His attorney, Joseph Tacopina, says that the Senate has no authority to expel him under the state constitution, an issue disputed by other senators.
    
In a statement Monday, Tacopina said the report "amounts to a self-serving document -- full of material omissions, legal inaccuracies, and factual distortions -- designed to justify a result the select committee desired before even commencing its investigation.''
    
He said that the committee process was "tainted'' from the outset, that he hoped the full Senate would reject the "biased findings'' and that he would turn to the courts if necessary.
    
Sen. Eric Schneiderman, a Democrat who led the committee, stressed that the group of nine had unanimously decided to sanction Monserrate.
    
"We were concerned, frankly, that he has failed to take responsibility for his conduct in any way,'' Schneiderman said after the report was released at a news conference in Manhattan.
    
The full Senate should first vote on a resolution to expel, he said.
    
"Only if that fails should we be voting on a lesser sanction,'' Schneiderman said.
    
The recommended lesser sanction, censure, could include stripping Monserrate of any committee position or leadership post, ending stipends beyond the Senate's base salary and the loss of seniority privileges.
    
Sen. Catharine Young, a Republican from western New York who served on the special committee, urged Senate Democratic leader John Sampson, who controls the flow of measures to the floor, to hold an expulsion vote when the Senate returns to session Tuesday.
    
"Our select committee has conducted a thorough, deliberative review, and the conclusion is clear,'' Young said. "Domestic violence cannot be tolerated, and it is reprehensible that Sen. Monserrate refused to cooperate with the committee. He needs to go.''
    
Sampson will review the report "before commenting further on what is in the best interests of the Senate and state,'' said Austin Shafran, spokesman for the Democratic majority conference that Sampson leads.
    
If he allows an expulsion resolution to reach the Senate floor, many Republicans and some Democrats are expected to support it.
    
If expelled, Monserrate would be the first member of the state legislature to be removed in nearly a century.

A handful of Senate Democrats already have called for Monserrate to resign, including Sen. Liz Krueger of Manhattan. She said Thursday that it appears unlikely, and that she's ready to vote him out.
    
Monserrate last year temporarily joined with Republicans to stage an overthrow in the chamber. Democrats have a 32-30 majority.
    
Monserrate supporters say Democratic support for his ouster is payback, and also note that the domestic confrontation happened before the former New York City policeman and councilman joined the state Senate.
    
The committee report cites a section of the legislative law and maintained the Senate does have the authority to remove one of its own.

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