List of New York State Legislature members expelled or censured

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Both the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly have occasionally expelled or censured one or several of their members. Legislators convicted of a felony crime must be removed from political office, according to New York state law. Though not a common form of sanction, expulsion has been used in the past against members of the state legislature. Other sanctions utilized have included censure, and removal of privileges. The New York Court of Appeals has interpreted the New York Constitution, acknowledging that the legislature is afforded the power to sanction members of its two constituent bodies.

New York State Legislative Law, Section 3 gives both houses of the state legislature the power to expel fellow politicians from their ranks. According to procedure, this cannot be done until after a Committee has been formed to investigation the matter, and subsequently said Committee has issued a report with recommendations as to sanctions for the individual in question. According to Senate Resolution 3409, such a Committee does not itself then have the power of carrying out the recommended sanctions; this duty falls instead back upon the legislators.

From the time of the ratification of the first New York Constitution in 1778 through 2010, eight legislators have been expelled from either the Senate or the Assembly. Four others have faced sanctions including censure and other measures. Prior to the expulsion of former Senator Hiram Monserrate from the Senate following conviction of misdemeanor assault,[1][2] the most recent individuals to be expelled from the legislature were five Socialist Party members of the Assembly who were expelled on question of their loyalties.[3]



If a legislator has received a conviction for a felony crime, New York State law stipulates that the individual must be removed from office.[4] Expulsion has not been a common form of sanction used by members of the New York Legislature against fellow legislators.[4] In addition to censure, other types of sanctions legislators have utilized include removal of the member's special privileges tied to their position, such as chairing a committee.[4]

The New York State Senate investigation Report of the New York State Senate Select Committee to Investigate the Facts and Circumstances Surrounding the Conviction of Hiram Monserrate on October 15, 2009 cites the New York Court of Appeals interpretation of the New York Constitution, which "like many state constitutions, does not explicitly enumerate the 'power to keep order or to punish members or others for disorderly conduct, or to expel a member,' '[t]he necessity of the powers mentioned is apparent, and is conceded in all authorities.' Such sanctions may include censure, removal of privileges, or other remedies which the Senate may choose to fashion."[5][6]

According to New York State Legislative Law, Section 3, both legislative bodies in the New York State Legislature are allowed the capacity to remove politicians in their house from office.[7] In order to begin proceedings to expel a member of the legislature, the relevant legislative body must first form a Committee of its members in order to investigate the matter.[7] Legislative Law, Section 3, reads, "Each house has the power to expel any of its members, after the report of a committee to inquire into the charges against him shall have been made."[7][8]

The Senate notes that such a Committee of the legislature is able to put forth a recommendation regarding suggested sanction for a member under investigation, but the Committee is not itself then given the power to bring about the sanction.[9] According to Senate Resolution 3409, after the Committee has made its recommendation regarding a legislator, any sitting Senator may at that point in time utilize the report of the Committee, adopt its findings, and bring about the recommended proposal through legislative action through his or her office.[9] At that point in time, a member may be expelled from the legislature through a simple majority vote.[10]


Since the adoption of the first New York Constitution in 1777, there have not been many members of the New York Legislature that have received the sanction of expulsion.[4] In 1779, Senator and militia Colonel John Williams was expelled during the American Revolution because he was accused of filing false muster and payrolls for the militia regiment he commanded in order to profit personally, as well as withholding pay from soldiers fined at courts martial that were not sanctioned by militia regulations.[4] (He was later exonerated and promoted to Brigadier General. He also served subsequent terms in the Assembly and the Senate as well as the United States Congress. In 1861, Assembly member Jay Gibbons was expelled due to attempts to garner bribes in order for parties to receive his vote for a specific bill before the legislature.[4][11] In 1892, Senators George Z. Erwin, Charles T. Saxton, and Edmund O'Connor were censured by the Senate after they had refused to vote on a specific bill before the legislative body.[12] In 1920, five members of the Assembly were expelled because they were members of the Socialist Party;[13] the legislature ruled that they could not be "consistent and loyal" due to their allegiances.[3]

In 2007, Republican Party Assemblyman Mike Cole was censured by his fellow legislators and removed from a ranking position on a Committee,[14] after the Assembly determined he had brought disrepute to the legislative body by drinking a significant amount of alcohol and then spending the night at the residence of a female intern.[15] In February 2010, Democratic Senator Hiram Monserrate became the first member of the legislature to be expelled in over 80 years.[2][4] Monserrate had been convicted of misdemeanor assault in 2009 in an incident involving his girlfriend.[1] When Monserrate appealed his expulsion the position of the Senate was represented by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo,[16] and the United States Federal court judge that heard the case ruled to uphold the former Senator's expulsion.[2]


Year Image Name House Sanction Political party Notes
1779 John Williams Senate Expulsion Williams was a member of the Senate from the Eastern District during the First Session; he was also a militia Colonel and regimental commander during the American Revolutionary War.[17] He was expelled over accusations of payroll fraud with his regiment and withholding the salaries of his soldiers to pay fines assessed at improper courts-martial.[4] He was later exonerated and promoted to Brigadier General. He also served subsequent terms in the Assembly, Senate and United States Congress.
1781 Ephraim Paine Senate Expulsion Paine was elected in April 1779. He was expelled from the Senate on March 15,[18] 1781, for "neglect of duty".[19][20]
1861 Jay Gibbons Assembly Expulsion Democrat Gibbons was arrested on February 17, 1861, on charges of bribery.[11] He was expelled from the Assembly for attempting to acquire bribes in order to vote for certain legislation.[4]
1868 Elijah M. K. Glenn Assembly Censure Republican On April 9, Glenn accused fellow Assemblyman Alexander Frear of offering him a bribe of $500. On April 10, a select committee appointed to investigate concluded that "the evidence does not furnish any justification for the charges made by Mr. Glenn against Mr. Frear." Thereupon a resolution was passed to censure Glenn. On April 11, Glenn resigned his seat.[21] In November, he was re-elected, and took his seat again in January 1869.
1892 George Z. Erwin Senate Censure Republican Senators Erwin, Saxton, and O'Connor were held in contempt for refusing to vote on a piece of legislation before the Senate.[12] The three senators were formally censured by the Senate after a Senate Committee ruled the legislative body could censure its members if they caused "an affront to the dignity of the Senate".[15]
Charles T. Saxton
Edmund O'Connor
1913 Stephen J. Stilwell Senate Expulsion Democrat Stilwell was accused of demanding a bribe and was cleared by a Senate vote of 28 to 21, but lost his seat upon conviction for bribery in the New York Supreme Court.[22]
August Claessens
August Claessens Assembly Expulsion Socialist Assembly members Claessens, DeWitt, Orr, Solomon, and Waldman were members of the Socialist Party, and were suspended at the beginning of the session by Speaker Thaddeus C. Sweet and the Republican majority. They were expelled on April 1 from the Assembly after a trial before the Assembly Committee on the Judiciary under the premise that they could not be "consistent and loyal" while members of the Socialist Party.[23] All five were re-elected at a special election on September 16, and appeared to take their seats at the special session on September 20. The next day, Claessens, Solomon and Waldman were expelled again. DeWitt and Orr were seated, but resigned in protest against the re-expulsion of their comrades.[24]
Samuel DeWitt
Samuel A. DeWitt
Samuel Orr
Samuel Orr
Charles Solomon
Charles Solomon
Louis Waldman
Louis Waldman
1991 Mel Miller Assembly Expulsion Democrat Speaker Miller lost his seat upon federal conviction for fraud and conspiracy.[25] The conviction was later overturned on appeal.[26]
2007 Mike Cole Assembly Censure Republican Assembly member Cole was censured and removed from his position as the ranking member of the Assembly's Committee on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.[14] The letter of censure from Cole's fellow assembly members cited his violation of a policy which prohibits members of the legislative body from fraternization with interns.[14] The Committee on Ethics and Guidance investigated the incident, and determined that Cole had "brought disfavor on the New York State Assembly and the members thereof".[15]
Hiram Monserrate
Hiram Monserrate Senate Expulsion Democrat Monserrate was convicted of misdemeanor assault in 2009.[1] The Senate voted to expel Monserrate in February 2010.[27] On February 19, 2010, United States federal court Judge William H. Pauley III denied Monserrate's attempt to have the expulsion blocked.[2] The Senate was represented during Monserrate's appeal by New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.[16] Monserrate appealed the decision of Judge Pauley to the United States Court of Appeals, in an attempt to overturn both the expulsion and the special election to replace the vacant seat in the New York State Senate.[28] On March 12, 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected Monserrate's request to have his expulsion from the Senate reversed and to be reinstated as a Senator.[29][30][31]
2015 Sheldon Silver Assembly Expulsion Democrat Speaker Silver lost his seat upon federal conviction of honest services fraud.[32]
2015 Dean Skelos Senate Expulsion Republican Senator Skelos was expelled automatically from the Senate upon his conviction for corruption. His son was convicted on related charges.[33]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Neumeister, Larry (February 19, 2010). "Judge OKs Monserrate Expulsion". NBC New York. NBC Universal. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  2. ^ a b c d "Judge Upholds Expulsion of Convicted NY Senator". The Washington Post. Associated Press. February 19, 2010. 
  3. ^ a b Paxson 2007, p. 616.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Peters, Jeremy W. (January 13, 2010). "Monserrate Will Face Sanction Votes". New York Times. p. A23. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  5. ^ Schneiderman 2010, p. 33.
  6. ^ People ex rel. McDonald v. Keeler, 99 N.Y. 463, 481 (1885).
  7. ^ a b c Schneiderman, Eric T. (February 19, 2010). "Statement from Senator Eric T. Schneiderman on Court Decision". Select Committee To Investigate The Facts And Circumstances Surrounding The Conviction Of Hiram Monserrate. Retrieved February 28, 2010. 
  8. ^ Schneiderman 2010, p. 35.
  9. ^ a b Schneiderman 2010, p. 34.
  10. ^ Schneiderman 2010, p. 37.
  11. ^ a b Schneiderman 2010, p. 46.
  12. ^ a b "Senators "In Contempt" — Three Republican War Horses Called to the Bar — Erwin, O'Connor, and Saxton Refused to Vote For a Substitute Enumeration Bill — Talk About the County Jail". New York Times. January 15, 1892. p. 1. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  13. ^ Schneiderman 2010, p. 47.
  14. ^ a b c Confessore, Nicholas (May 4, 2007). "Assemblyman Is Censured for Fraternizing With Intern". New York Times. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  15. ^ a b c Schneiderman 2010, p. 51.
  16. ^ a b Sollars, Matthew (February 19, 2010). "Judge Rejects Monserrate's Suit to Stay in Senate". WNYC. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  17. ^ Schneiderman 2010, p. 44.
  18. ^ The New York Civil List compiled by Franklin Benjamin Hough (Weed, Parsons and Co., 1858), page 111.
  19. ^ Hutchins 1884, p. 277.
  20. ^ Schneiderman 2010, p. 45.
  21. ^ see Journal of the Assembly (91st Session) (1868), vol. II, pp. 919ff.
  22. ^ "Stilwell Guilty of Asking Bribe — Jurors Find a Verdict Against State Senator in 2 Hours and 13 Minutes — May Get 4 1/2 Years — Jurors Find a Verdict Against State Senator in 2 Hours and 13 Minutes — Convicted Lawmaker May Also Be Fined $5,000 — To Be Sentenced Wednesday — Applause in Courtroom — Nott Sums Up Brilliantly for State — "A Lesson to Senate," He Says — Legislators in Court". New York Times. May 25, 1913. p. 1. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  23. ^ "Democratic Filibusters Delay Vote on Expulsion of Socialists in Stormy Debate in Assembly — Majority for Expulson — "Throw Them Out," Yells Assembly as One Man — Roosevelt in Opposition — Adler, Too, Maintains Charges Against Socialist Party Were Not Sustained — Chamber Often in Uproar — Minority Wins Battle Against Speaker to Save Governor from Special — Session Dilemma". New York Times. April 1, 1920. p. 1. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  24. ^ "Assembly Again Expels Three Socialists; Decides to OUst THem by Vote of 90 to 45; De Witt and Orr Seated, But Resign — Their Records Are Cited — Previous Verdict Upheld Against Waldman, Solomon and Claessens — Cheers When Two Resign — De Witt and Orr Declare Assembly Majority Is Un-American and Refuse Seats — Vote Not on Party Lines — Republicans Admit Political Consideration Entered Into Seating of Two". New York Times. September 22, 1920. p. 1. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  25. ^ Lubasch, Arnold H. (December 14, 1991). "Miller Is Found Guilty of Fraud — Speaker Loses Seat in Assembly". New York Times. p. 27. Retrieved November 17, 2016. 
  26. ^ Roberts, Sam (June 25, 1993). "Ousted Speaker In Albany Wins Case on Appeal". New York Times. Retrieved November 16, 2016. 
  27. ^ Peters, Jeremy (February 19, 2010). "Judge Denies Monserrate's Bid to Stay in Senate". New York Times. Retrieved February 22, 2010. 
  28. ^ Rafter, Domenick (February 25, 2010). "Sears Declines GOP Slot, Judge Put On The Ticket". Queens Tribune. Archived from the original on March 20, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2010. 
  29. ^ Chang, Ailsa (March 12, 2010). "Monserrate's Request to Reverse Expulsion is Rejected". WNYC. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  30. ^ Lisberg, Adam (March 12, 2010). "Monserrate Expects A Win In Court — Update: Denied!". New York Daily News. Archived from the original on March 16, 2010. Retrieved March 13, 2010. 
  31. ^ "Monserrate, et al v. New York State Senate et al". March 13, 2010.  (text of decision denying the appeal)
  32. ^ Weiser, Benjamin; Craig, Susanne (November 30, 2015). "Sheldon Silver, Ex-New York Assembly Speaker, Is Found Guilty on All Counts". New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved December 1, 2015. 
  33. ^ "Dean Skelos, Ex-New York Senate Leader, and His Son Are Convicted of Corruption". New York Times. December 12, 2015. Retrieved December 14, 2015. 


Further reading[edit]

  • Ward, Robert B. (2006). New York State Government. Rockefeller Institute Press. ISBN 1-930912-15-3. 
  • Zimmerman, Joseph Francis (2008). The Government and Politics of New York State. State University of New York Press. ISBN 0-7914-7435-6. 

External links[edit]