News & Politics

Hiram Monserrate Expelled, 53-8


The State Senate just voted 53-8 to expel Hiram Monserrate immediately. Eric Adams, Ruben Diaz Sr., Martin Malave Dilan, Carl Kruger, Pedro Espada Jr., Kevin Parker, John Sampson, and Monserrate himself were the only no votes; Thomas Morahan was excused.

Monserrate gave the final vote and the final speech before the vote went down, laying the groundwork for a future legal appeal by continually asserting that the senate had no right to expel him, and that he had been denied due process.

Monserrate supporter Ruben Diaz Sr. said the Democrats called Monserrate back to the party after the Albany coup “just to make fun of him and to put him to shame… his closest friend goes against him… and then they gonna call us to be a united front.” He told the Republicans, “Go ahead, enjoy your victory, and told Senator Eric Schneiderman, whose panel had recommended censure or expulsion for Monserrate, that the vote gave him “good relations (?) to become AG.”

When Lieutenant Governor Richard Ravitch asked Diaz how he voted, Diaz retorted, “How am I vote? You ask me how I vote? I vote against all these people here.”

Senator Pedro Espada pledged “continued support” for Democratic conference leader John Sampson, but mentioned the terrorist-trial bill the senate had passed early, and said the same people who voted to give “due process to terrorists” were refusing to give due process to Monserrate, and voted no.

Monserrate then spoke. He emphasized that the act of which he had been found guilty and for which he was being expelled “took place before I was sworn in as a senator…whatever action this body takes, should adhere to the principles of fairness.” He noted that an election would be coming soon, and “if my sins are of such magnitude” that the voters of his 13th Senatorial District wished him gone, “so be it.”

But it was, he said, “the height of arrogance for someone who has never pulled the lever in my community, never saw the narcotic sales on Roosevelt Avenue…to think that today they have more power than the constituents and voters who sent me here to represent them.”

Like Espada, he referred to senators whom he characterized as in favor of due process for the Taliban — he mentioned Daniel Squadron and Liz Krueger specifically — and asserted, “Ladies and gentlemen, I was denied due process,” and that his ouster was “unconstitutional, illegal, and contrary to precedent.”

Monserrate referred darkly to members of the legislature who had been busy “lining their own pockets at the expense of the public interest that they have sworn to uphold,” referred to the Larry Seabrook case, and said other members with legal problems had plea-bargained to get out of felony convictions, whereas he, though “facing four felony charges and prison time…believed so much in my innocence” that he went to trial, and was convicted only of a misdemeanor — which conviction, he reminded his colleagues, did not carry the constitutional weight to expel him.

Monserrate suggested that his expulsion, like the “rush to pass an ethics bill,” was meant as a “signal to the people” that Albany was cleaning house. “This is about, in a dramatic and public manner,” he said, “the effort of some in this body to demonstrate that they are going to expiate all these sins by making Hiram Monserrate the scapegoat.”

He attacked the panel report against him as “full of factual distortions” and “self-serving,” and lamented that the panel members never heard from him or his girlfriend. (The panel said they asked them both to testify, but neither of them agreed to do so.)

He reiterated that “the action that I have been involved with does not rise to the level of expulsion,” and that by voting him out the senate was “disenfranchising the voters of my majority-minority district.” He quoted Jesse Jackson — “God isn’t through with me yet” — and then sat down.

Ravitch then read the result and quickly adjourned the session.

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