SAVINO WOULD EXPEL DISGRACED SENATOR

 
Island lawmaker says Monserrate was more concerned with his future than woman's well-being
Friday, January 15, 2010
By JUDY L. RANDALL
ADVANCE STAFF WRITER

STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- On the heels of a state Senate committee report yesterday calling for the expulsionor censure of a Democratic senator accused by some of domestic violence, state Sen. Diane Savino (D-North Shore/ Brooklyn) said she would vote to expel Sen. Hiram Monserrate if party leaders brought the matter to the floor.

State Sen. Andrew Lanza (R-Staten Island) said he was "leaning" toward voting to expel.

Monserrate, who said he wouldn't quit his job even if he is expelled, was convicted in court of dragging his girlfriend, Karla Giraldo, but acquitted of a felony, which would have automatically cost him his job. Ms. Giraldo's face was slashed by broken glass during what both later called an accident.

Monserrate has filed a no- tice to appeal his conviction.

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 yesterday, 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.

Senate Democratic leader John Sampson has not yet signaled if he will hold an expulsion vote when the body reconvenes on Tuesday.

The report by the Senate committee, which both Ms. Savino and Lanza served on, said Monserrate's behavior "showed reckless disregard" for the well-being of Ms. Giraldo and for "the severity of her injury." It also said his "misconduct damages the integrity and reputation of the New York State Senate and demonstrates a lack of fitness to serve."

The incident occurred in December 2008.

Monserrate, a first-term Democrat from Queens who last year briefly sided with Republicans in a power play that turned the chamber into chaos, said calls for his ouster are political payback.

"This is based on the facts," said Ms. Savino. She said, for example, that Monserrate was more concerned about his political future than Ms. Giraldo's well-being when he by-passed several hospitals enroute to one out-of-district to seek medical care for her.

Lanza called Monserrate's behavior "very troubling."

Judy L. Randall is a news reporter for the Advance. She may be reached at randall@siadvance.com