Five Democratic state senators have called for the voluntary resignation of their fellow caucus member Hiram Monserrate, who just yesterday was convicted of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend. Monserrate was trying to briskly move on — announcing his engagement to the
victim lucky gal, Karla Giraldo, even though he has yet to be sentenced. First Liz Krueger issued a statement calling for him to quit for the sake of his constituents, even though he's not required to do so since the conviction was not a felony. "There are misdemeanors like jaywalking or showing up at a protest of a political action and there are crimes of violence against human beings, and I just don’t see them as the same," Krueger told the Daily News. "It is a privilege and an honor [to be an elected official], and people are allowing us to make the laws that they live under. If we are not capable of not being convicted in court of breaking those laws — particularly a violent type of law — then I just don’t see that you should remain in office."
Four other Democrats — senators Brian Foley, Dave Valesky, Darrel Aubertine, and Neil Breslin — jumped on the bandwagon shortly after. Foley went so far as to threaten that if Monserrate didn't voluntarily resign, he'd set into motion impeachment procedures.
Enter Ruben Diaz, avenging angel. Diaz released a press release excoriating his colleagues for ganging up on Monserrate:
For all those Senators and legislators who are calling to condemn Senator Hiram Monserrate and demand that he is ousted from the Senate, where were you all when Senator John Sabini was convicted of drunk driving? Senator Monserrate did not hide behind a plea. Senator Sabini did. Senator Monserrate was found guilty of trying to do good by forcing his girlfriend to go to the hospital for treatment.
No one called for Senator Sabini to be removed from the Senate. How many of my colleagues have posed in photos with Mothers Against Drunk Driving after embracing with our former Senator John Sabini? Is this because my colleagues practice drunk driving, too, or are my colleagues just more comfortable with drunk drivers?
This fiery statement is a little misleading: After Sabini's plea deal in 2007, the New York City Democratic machine forced Sabini out in 2008, allowing Monserrate himself to run in his district to replace him. But Diaz is right in one respect: His colleagues' anger at Monserrate is probably not just over the slashing incident. Most likely they're still seething over Monserrate and Espada's revolt against their own party over the summer, causing an Albany circus that humiliated the Senate (and the entire state), fractured their caucus, and left the power-greedy Pedro Espada in charge of the body. Also, you know, Monserrate will be sentenced on December 4. If he gets a few months' jail time, which seems unlikely but is possible, that would extend into the session next year. And nobody wants someone from their caucus serving from jail.
On the flip side, Diaz's motives are also impure: Without Monserrate, his precious "Gang of Four" will be down to three — and his remaining two compatriots, Pedro Espada and Carl Kruger, are likely to face some tough questions from constituents over their loyalty during the coming election year. His power to hold the Democratic caucus hostage to his demands would be severely impaired with the loss of Monserrate (who, no doubt, wouldn't make it past next fall anyway, if the Sabini example of Queens Democratic politics is anything to go by).
In case you're wondering, meanwhile, the Senate GOP has already told the Daily News that they don't want Monserrate, a former double-crosser, on their team either.
Dem Opposition To Monserrate Mounts; GOP Doesn't Want Him, Either [Daily Politics/NYDN]