Politicians call for NY Sen. Monserrate to resign after assault conviction

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Saturday, October 17, 2009

New York State Senator Hiram Monserrate faced public calls for his resignation after he was found guilty Thursday of misdemeanor assault, in the criminal trial involving an alleged attack on his girlfriend Karla Giraldo. Monserrate will face sentencing on the misdemeanor assault conviction on December 4.

Hiram Monserrate in 2009
Image: Matt Ryan.

The misdemeanor assault conviction means Monserrate is guilty of "recklessly causing physical injury" to Giraldo. Monserrate could be sentenced to one year in jail for the misdemeanor assault conviction.

The prosecution had asserted that when Monserrate discovered that his girlfriend had the business card of another man, he chose to strike out at her. Monserrate entered a plea of not guilty to charges he sliced his girlfriend's face with broken glass during a conflict at their apartment on December 19, 2008. The defense team denied that the injury to the woman by Monserrate was intentional, instead claiming that the incident was "an accident" and the result of Monserrate tripping while bringing Giraldo a glass of water.

Cquote1.svg They need to expel him. The Democratic leadership needs to send a strong message to the women of New York state that they care about protecting women. Cquote2.svg

National Organization for Women

Queens Supreme Court Justice William Erlbaum judged the case without a jury, as Monserrate waived his right for a trial before his peers. The group National Organization for Women had requested that the judge rule Monserrate should be given "the maximum sentence allowable by law". If he had been convicted of a felony, Democrat Sen. Monserrate could have automatically lost his New York State Senate seat. Monserrate did not testify during the criminal trial against him.

The New York chapter of the National Organization for Women criticized the decision of the judge for not convicting Monserrate of the felony charge, and urged the Democratic leadership of the New York Senate to remove Monserrate from office. New York state president of the National Organization for Women, Marcia Pappas stated: "They need to expel him. The Democratic leadership needs to send a strong message to the women of New York state that they care about protecting women."

It is within the power of the New York Senate to initiate procedures to oust a sitting Senator. Leaders within the Democratic party in the New York Senate were debating whether to being proceedings to remove Monserrate from his seat. Senators are in the process of deciding whether or not to initiate disciplinary proceedings against Monserrate. John L. Sampson, Democratic Conference leader in the New York Senate, told the Associated Press on Friday that the Senate will review procedures in order to determine what to do with Monserrate. "The leaders of our conference are discussing the potential for further action by the Senate," said Sampson in a statement in AM New York.

The legislative director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, Blair Horner, told AM New York that it would be "unprecedented in modern times" for a sitting New York State Senator to hold office while serving time in jail. "Obviously he can’t vote from jail," he said.

New York City Council member Eric Gioia was the first Democratic politician to publicly request that Monserrate resign from his post as a member of the New York State Senate. Gioia released a statement Thursday which said: "There is no room in government or in the Democratic Party for people who commit such heinous crimes against women. Hiram Monserrate must be swiftly removed from office. Elected officials should rightfully be held to a higher standard, and New Yorkers deserve better representation than a convicted perpetrator of domestic violence." Gioia stated that "the circumstances revealed in the trial ... truly shock the conscience."

Cquote1.svg I believe Hiram Monserrate should not remain in the Senate. Cquote2.svg

Liz Krueger, Democratic New York State Senator

On Friday, Democratic New York State Senator Liz Krueger of Manhattan joined the call for Monserrate to resign. "The justice system has determined that Mr. Monserrate has violated our laws and is guilty of a very disturbing and violent crime against a woman. Domestic violence is domestic violence, guilt is guilt. I believe Hiram Monserrate should not remain in the Senate," said Senator Krueger. According to NY1 News, Senator Krueger was the first woman politician to call for Monserrate's resignation. Senator Krueger stated: "I don't believe being an elected official is a right. It is an honor and a privilege I believe I should be held to higher standards because I am an elected official and I believe my colleagues in the legislature should also be held to a higher standard. And so for me, this is simple: Mr. Monserrate, it's time to resign."

Cquote1.svg Domestic violence has no place in civilized society. Cquote2.svg

Suzi Oppenheimer, Democratic New York State Senator

Senator Krueger was later joined by female New York State Senator, Democrat Suzi Oppenheimer. Senator Oppenheimer released a statement which said: I am strong believer in our judicial system, and the Court has now spoken. Senator Monserrate has been convicted of assaulting his partner. Domestic violence has no place in civilized society. I have spent my life fighting for the rights of abused women, which have been the subject of this trial."

Cquote1.svg If Sen. Monserrate chooses not to resign, I will use my position as Senator to introduce a measure for his expulsion/impeachment from the Senate. Cquote2.svg

Brian Foley, Democratic New York State Senator

Democratic New York State Senator Brian Foley also called for Monserrate to resign. State Senator Foley released a statement saying: "If Sen. Monserrate chooses not to resign, I will use my position as Senator to introduce a measure for his expulsion/impeachment from the Senate. I will do so, without regard to party affiliation, because of the conduct Sen. Monserrate has exhibited. And I will do so to send a clear message to every individual in New York State: Violence against women will not be acceptable regardless of your position in society. For the sake of the New York State Senate, I sincerely hope Sen. Monserrate will heed my call and resign immediately. The consequence of his refusal to do so will be a forced expulsion from the Senate."

Cquote1.svg I will work with other members of the Senate to seek his removal. Cquote2.svg

David Valesky, Democratic New York State Senator

David Valesky, another Democratic New York State Senator, joined the calls by his fellow State Senators Liz Krueger and Brian Foley in calling for Monserrate's resignation. State Senator Valesky said he would "work with other members of the Senate" in order to get Monserrate removed from his political office. The Post-Standard reported that Senator Valesky released a statement saying he was "disgusted" by Monserrate's "deplorable" behavior. Senator Valesky said in his statement: "It is my hope that Mr. Monserrate will do the right thing for this body and for the people of this state and resign his post immediately. If he chooses not to do so, I will work with other members of the Senate to seek his removal. We are currently reviewing the internal options for such removal, and I am confident we will act expeditiously to end this matter."

Cquote1.svg It is time for us to take the steps necessary to earn back the public's trust. Hiram Monserrate remaining a member of the Senate contradicts this effort. Cquote2.svg

Neil Breslin, Democratic New York State Senator

Democratic New York State Senator Neil Breslin said that Monserrate remaining in his political office would negatively impact the New York State Senate to earn the trust of the public. "We, the Senate, have been through so much this past year. It is time for us to take the steps necessary to earn back the public's trust. Hiram Monserrate remaining a member of the Senate contradicts this effort," said Senator Breslin.

Cquote1.svg For the good of New York State and the Senate, he should step down. Cquote2.svg

Darrel Aubertine, Democratic New York State Senator

Darrel Aubertine, a fellow Democratic New York State Senate member, also called for Monserrate's resignation. Senator Aubertine released a statement saying that if Monserrate does not resign, the New York State Senate "must take appropriate action immediately". Senator Aubertine said that "For the good of New York State and the Senate, he should step down."

Brooklyn-based New York State Senator Martin Golden, a Republican, told the New York Daily News he agreed with the calls for Monserrate to be removed from office. "As far as I'm concerned, (expletive) him; he should be gone. He should not be sitting in that Senate, and if someone thinks otherwise, I'd like some of the crack they're smoking," said Senator Golden.

Joseph Crowley, a United States Congressman and chairman of the Democratic party in Queens, New York, said that Monserrate should resign. The New York Times noted that the lack of support by Representative Crowley was significant, as Crowley had previously helped arrange for Monserrate to attain his political office as State Senator in the first place.

Cquote1.svg I don’t think it’s something our party wants to be associated with. Cquote2.svg

Joseph Crowley, U.S. Congressman

Crowley said that if Monserrate did not resign, he would support another individual to challenge Monserrate in the next year's Democratic primary for his office. "I think there is a tremendous amount of emphasis, and rightly so, that this was domestic violence. I don’t think it’s something our party wants to be associated with, and it’s not representative of the constituency which elected him," said Representative Crowley.

Cquote1.svg He should not be sitting in that Senate. Cquote2.svg

Martin Golden, Republican New York State Senator

Democratic New York State Assembly member Patricia Eddington said of Monserrate's acquittal on the more serious felony assault charge: "It’s just another example of how abuse of women is condoned and accepted." Assembly member Eddington stated: "I don’t think he should be permitted to be a senator."

Monserrate is a former New York City police officer. Prior to becoming a member of the New York State Senate, he was a city councilman. He became a member of the New York State Senate weeks after the alleged conflict with Giraldo, and was made chair of the committee overseeing consumer affairs. Along with Democrat Pedro Espada Jr., Monserrate started a shift in control of the Senate by aligning with the Republican Party. Monserrate is currently allied with the Democrats in the New York Senate, and if he is removed from his seat the ratio of Democrats to Republicans would be 31-30.


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Sources

Wikipedia Learn more about Assault and Hiram Monserrate on Wikipedia.
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