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February-10-10

NY State Senator Expelled due to Domestic Abuse Charges

The New York state Senate voted 53 to 8 yesterday to expel Senator Hiram Monserrate (D) because of misdemeanor assault charges. In December 2008, Monserrate was videotaped dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, through their apartment building's lobby after he cut her face with broken glass. He avoided felony assault charges in the incident, which would have caused an automatic expulsion from the state Senate.

"The Senate cannot turn a blind eye to an act of domestic violence, a crime for which the state of New York has a zero-tolerance policy, and an attempt to evade responsibility for such a crime through dishonesty and bullying," said Senator Eric Schneiderman (D), chair of the special investigations committee that recommended Monserrate's expulsion, according to CBS News. Schneiderman also told the New York Daily News that Monserrate's "abusive and unlawful conduct damages the integrity of the New York state Senate and demonstrates a lack of fitness to serve in this body."

During a 16-minute floor speech, state Senator Monserrate said, "I know that my behavior has brought unwelcome discredit to this chamber, and for that, I am deeply sorry." He added that he hopes none of the other senators find themselves "at the mercy of certain colleagues with unfortunate political agendas."

According to WRVO Public Broadcasting, the vote to expel Monserrate may have been politically motivated. State Senators Monserrate (D) and Pedro Espada (D) changed affiliations briefly last summer and formed a coalition with state Senate Republicans. Democrats persuaded Monserrate to return a few days later. However, the switches resulted in a month-long stalemate, causing Monserrate to make enemies on both sides of the aisle.

Monserrate's expulsion leaves Democrats with a slim 31 to 30 majority in the New York state House. A special election for his replacement is scheduled for March 16, though Monserrate is seeking appeal of his expulsion, which could delay the special election.

Media Resources: CBS News 2/10/2010; NY Daily News 2/9/2010; WRVO Public Broadcasting 2/10/2010

   

     

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