New York Senate panel recommends Monserrate’s expulsion or censure

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Tuesday January 12, 2010

A New York State Senate committee has reportedly recommended the censure or expulsion of an embattled Queens senator convicted of assaulting his girlfriend.

The committee's report has not been made public, but several sources have told EDGE it will recommend the expulsion or censure of state Sen. Hiram Monserrate [D-Jackson Heights.] James Freedland, a spokesperson for State Sen. Eric Schneiderman [D-Manhattan,] who chairs the committee, confirmed to EDGE the report has yet to be finalized.

He said lawmakers could issue their findings, however, in the coming days.

"They are certainly wrapping it up and are very close to finalizing the report," Freedland said.

A source with knowledge of the committee's report told EDGE he expects lawmakers will move quickly.

"They don't want Monserrate hanging around for the budget so he can screw around again," he said.

Monserrate has remained defiant, and his lawyer told the Associated Press earlier today there is no grounds for the state Senate to force his client from office.

A Queens judge convicted Monserrate in October of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend inside his Jackson Heights apartment in Dec., 2008.

Many of the state's leading Democrats-U.S. Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney-have urged Monserrate to step down. And the former New York City Councilmember and police officer has faced blistering criticism from gay rights activists for voting against a bill last month that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry.

Queens Democrats have largely backed state Assemblymember Josť Peralta [D-Jackson Heights] as Monserrate's heir apparent. A special election could take place as early as next month if Monserrate is forced from office, but one long-time activist from Jackson Heights rather succinctly summed up the controversy that continues to swirl around the embattled legislator.

"It's sad," he said.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.