Following the recent outcome of Sen. Hiram Monserrate’s trial, senators and women’s rights groups are again speaking out — this time for his resignation.
Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, was one of the first to speak out for the resignation of Monserrate — the Queens senator who was recently found guilty of misdemeanor assault against his partner and was acquitted of felony charges, ones that would have torn him out of the state Senate — hours after the outcome of his trial.
“I believe that if he was indeed found guilty of a violent crime he should not remain in the state senate,” Krueger said.
“Literally within 12 hours of his being found guilty I put out a statement calling out for Mr. Monserrate to resign on the grounds that a person convicted of a violent crime should not be a sitting legislature in New York state,” Krueger said. “I urged colleagues, organizations, citizens to call for him to resign on the belief that, that was the best and the simple and quick solution to the problem.”
“And many elected, many civic organizations, many women’s organizations have in fact taken up that call and put out a statement calling for him to resign — both U.S. senators [for New York] Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand have called for him to resign.”
The New Agenda is one of the women’s rights groups that has taken up Krueger’s call for Monserrate’s resignation. “The fact of the matter is that he was still found guilty of a charge and at this point, and even prior to this trial really, he does not have the moral authority to be governing in our state,” Amy Siskind, president of the New Agenda, said.
“We are working now with NOW-NYS [National Organization of Women-New York State] and the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee,” Siskind said. “To collectively speak out about what’s happened here and to urge the members of the committee that’s been formed to call for his immediate resignation.”
NOW-NYS, a women’s rights group, and ERLC, an organization that is “dedicated to building a new generation of pro-choice Democratic women leaders in New York State,” are working with New Agenda to publicly call for Monserrate’s resignation, according to Siskind.
“We’re currently working on an open letter,” Siskind said, adding that the groups plan to get signatures for their open letter “from a number of the women’s organizations and then we plan to send those to the folks that are going to be serving on the panel just to let them know how important this is — what kind of signal we’re sending if we continue to let this man serve in our state government.”
The groups plan to send their open letter to the special committee of inquiry on Monserrate that was created by Senate Democratic Conference Leader John L. Sampson, D-Manhattan, on Oct. 20 and is made up of eight other individuals: Andrew J. Lanza, R-Staten Island, a former chair of the Senate Ethics Committee; John J. Flanagan, R-East Northport, a former chair of the Senate Ethics Committee; James S. Alesi, R-Perinton, a former chair of the Senate Ethics Committee; Sen. Cathy Young, R-Olean; Ruth Hassell-Thompson, D-Mount Vernon; Diane J. Savino, D-Staten Island; Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers; and Toby A. Stavisky, D-Queens, as reported by the Legislative Gazette last week.
Siskind said that the trial outcome wasn’t what she or her group expected. “We were very surprised that he got away with it,” Siskind said. “He deserves to be in jail plain and simple — this is a text book, gender-based, violence-type case where the girlfriend is abused and initially speaks out and then is intimidated into silence.”
Although disappointed with the outcome of Monserrate’s trial, Siskind said she and the New Agenda won’t stop working until the senator resigns. “We are going to continue to work and to galvanize as a coalition of organizations,” Siskind said. “That’s our next step and we’ll just continue to keep the heat on until he resigns,” Siskind said. “However long that takes we’ll keep going.”
Krueger spoke of her future hope. “I hope Mr. Monserrate wakes up tomorrow morning and says, ‘I don’t have any future in the senate, my colleagues have started a committee to figure out how to sanction me. I can’t win reelection next year in my district and the people who are calling me to resign are right,’ and that he will resign, that’s what I’m hoping for.”
Siskind passionately agreed. “The fact of the matter is that he was found guilty of a charge related to domestic violence and he needs to resign. Period. End of sentence.”