Sen. Hiram Monserrate, D-Queens, was seated in the now-Democrat-controlled chamber today, despite calls before today that this should not happen. The reason is that Monserrate faces felony assault charges for allegedly cutting his girlfriend’s face with glass. He was not at the Democratic conference Tuesday evening, when Democrats agreed to back Malcolm Smith, D-Queens, as majority leader.
Monserrate defended his being seated in the chamber in comments he made before attending Gov. David Paterson’s State of the State address. This is what he said:
“My constituents from the 13th senatorial district have elected me. I am here to the job of a New York State senator. This is a historic moment for the Democrats in the State of New York and I look forward to representing my constituents.”
When asked about the allegations against him, Monserrate said he and his accuser disagree on how the situation unfolded. She claims it was a domestic violence incident, and he claims it was not. An unidentified woman with Monserrate, impatient with the questions, said “He’s innocent. Let’s go,” and Monserrate was ushered toward the Assembly chamber for Paterson’s speech.
Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn, had threatened to introduce a resolution against Monserrate being seated. Golden said after the Senate broke for Paterson’s speech that he didn’t do that because “We’re not in charge anymore.”
“We didn’t have an opportunity today, but we’re going to do it,” he said.
Smith has appointed Monserrate as chairman of the Senate Consumer Protection Committee, which carries an extra stipend of $12,500 on top of the $79,500 base salary. Smith said Tuesday that he needed to consult with his counsel further about Monserrate’s status.