By Michael Virtanen, Associated Press Writer
New York’s two U.S. senators called Monday for fellow Democrat Hiram Monserrate, the state senator convicted last week of misdemeanor assault against his girlfriend, to resign his seat.
Sen. Charles Schumer, of Brooklyn, said Monserrate “should do the right thing” for New York and his constituents and step down. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Hudson Valley congresswoman appointed to fill the vacancy left when Hillary Rodham Clinton was named secretary of state, said if Monserrate doesn’t resign immediately state lawmakers should move to expel him.
“Domestic violence has no place in our society, and certainly has no place in the state Legislature,” Gillibrand said. “We must take a hard line against violence toward women in our society.”
Calls to Monserrate and his attorney were not immediately returned Monday.
The Queens Democrat was convicted Thursday of the misdemeanor for dragging Karla Giraldo out of his building in December, a scene captured on a security video camera. He was acquitted of felony charges he deliberately cut Giraldo’s face with a glass; a felony conviction would have forced him out.
Giraldo testified the injury was accidental.
A handful of Democratic state senators and some Republicans have also said Monserrate should resign. Rep. Joseph Crowley, a Democrat who represents parts of Queens in Congress and chairs the county Democratic organization, said Friday Monserrate should resign immediately for behavior “not befitting a public official.”
Spokesman Austin Shafran said the state Senate Democratic leadership was still discussing what to do Monday. A Senate majority can vote to censure or expel Monserrate following a committee review.
Sen. Eric Adams, a Brooklyn Democrat, says while any allegation of violence, particularly against women, is a serious matter, Democratic Conference leader Sen. John Sampson has asked lawmakers to refrain from commenting until a Senate committee completes its report.
Monserrate’s attorney Joseph Tacopina said Friday the freshman state senator wasn’t resigning. Monserrate, 42, a former city police officer and councilman, said he tripped while holding the glass, calling it “a terrible accident.”
He could face up to a year in prison at sentencing Dec. 4.
Some other lawmakers, including Sen. Ruben Diaz, a Bronx Democrat, have defended Monserrate, saying he should stay. Diaz said Monserrate was found guilty “of trying to do good” by forcing Giraldo to seek hospital treatment.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.