As New York Senate Democrats try to force a vote on the body’s leadership in the wake of criminal charges against Republican Senate Leader Dean Skelos, a spokeswoman for the Senate GOP alleged the Democrats “no longer believe in the presumption of innocence.”
“The liberal, progressive Democrats no longer believe in the presumption of innocence, and that is dangerous to all of our freedoms, including their own,” Senate Republican spokeswoman Kelly Cummings said in a statement.
The GOP conference blasted out the statement this afternoon as State Senator Michael Gianaris, who leads the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee, called for a vote on the Senate floor to replace Mr. Skelos after he was charged Monday with using his influence to funnel money to his son, Adam Skelos. Senate Democrats eventually walked out of session over the issue, according to Twitter updates from Albany reporters.
“Leave it to the Senate Democrats to inject politics into this discussion when there is so much important work to do before the end of the legislative session. After all, Senator Gianaris has been trying to win the majority for four years now, and he has failed every time,” Ms. Cummings said.
Senate Democrats said the issue had nothing to do with the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.
“This is not about the presumption of innocence but the ability of a scandal plagued Senator to continue to lead the Senate. The Senate Republicans should immediately remove Senator Skelos,” spokesman Mike Murphy said in a statement to the Observer.
The Democrats who run the Legislature’s other chamber, the State Assembly, had to deal with replacing their own leadership earlier this year when former Speaker Sheldon Silver stepped down under pressure after being hit with criminal charges—something many Albany Republicans had argued for.
But so far, Mr. Skelos, who represents Rockville Centre on Long Island, has said he will not step down—even as reports have indicated cracks in his support from his fellow Republicans. Ms. Cummings accused Democrats in the Senate of hypocrisy.
“Not only did the Senate Democrats bring chaos and dysfunction to Albany during their disastrous two-year stint in the majority, but they all seem to have extraordinarily short memories. Just last year, Senators
Stewart-Cousins and Gianaris chose a convicted criminal to run as their handpicked candidate for an important Western New York Senate seat, and he is now a sitting member of their conference,” Ms. Cummings said, referring to Marc Panepinto, who had been convicted of misdemeanor election fraud.