Democrats file to oust Dean Skelos

ByDavid Klepper AP logo
Friday, May 8, 2015

ALBANY -- Democratic lawmakers in New York will try again to oust state Senate Leader Dean Skelos following his arrest on federal corruption charges.

A spokesman for the Senate's Democratic minority said Friday that a motion has been filed to force a vote on removing Skelos, a Long Island Republican. The vote could come as early as Monday when the Senate returns to Albany.

Skelos is accused of using his position to extort payments for his son, Adam, from a real estate company and an environmental technology business. Skelos and his son, who is also charged in the case, both say they are innocent.

The veteran lawmaker has vowed to hold his powerful position while he fights the charges, though his support among Republicans appears to be slipping. Several GOP senators and Republican county chairmen have publicly called for Skelos to step down as leader.

Two Republicans are considered strong candidates for the job should Skelos step down or be forced out. Sen. John DeFrancisco of Syracuse was first elected in 1992 and leads the Senate Finance Committee. Sen. Jon Flanagan of Suffolk County was first elected in 2002 and chairs the education committee.

Democrats say Skelos should resign as leader immediately. They tried to force a vote on the issue Wednesday but members of the Republican majority blocked their motion, saying it wasn't submitted in advance.

Democrats disagreed, saying no advance notice was required. Nonetheless, the new motion was filed early to ensure it gets a vote, according to Mike Murphy, a spokesman for the Democrats.

"The Senate Republicans failed the people of New York by allowing scandal-plagued Dean Skelos to hold on to power," Murphy said, adding that Democrats "will not sit idly by as the state Senate, under the Republican Majority, descends into chaos and dysfunction."

Skelos is on leave from his law firm, Ruskin Moscou Faltischek of Long Island, a firm spokesman said Friday. The spokesman did not say whether Skelos was asked to take time off, but he noted that the firm is not the subject to any criminal allegations.

A message left with Skelos' office was not immediately returned Friday.