The pressure is already starting to build on Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada, D-Bronx, to step down as majority leader in the face of a civil suit by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and a federal raid today of his Bronx health clinic.
Sen. Neil Breslin, D-Delmar, Albany County, said Espada should vacate the position, which was given to him in return for ending last summer’s coup.
“I’m personally asking for Pedro Espada to step down as majority leader,” said Breslin, who has been a vocal opponent of Espada’s and former Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who was expelled in February.
“He’s casting a dark light on the New York State Senate.”
Sen. Marty Golden, R-Brooklyn, another Espada critic, said if Democrats don’t seek to strip Espada of his title, he will seek a resolution to do so.
“The people of the state of New York deserve more,” he said. “All they see is corruption, all they see is dishonesty here. You can’t have the majority leader with these types of charges. I believe for the betterment of the body and the betterment of the state of New York, he should step aside.”
Espada has vowed to fight the charges, and some lawmakers said it is too soon to take action against him, saying he hasn’t even been criminally charged — although criminal charges are likely soon.
Espada met behind closed doors with senators last night and pledged his innocence, lawmakers said.
“This is a civil matter, and everyone deserves their day in court,” said Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn.
Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, said it is up to a legislator to decide whether he or she is resigning, although she had been one of the first senators to call for Monserrate to resign upon being found guilty of a misdemeanor assault on his girlfriend last year.
People are innocent until proven guilty, Krueger said. “If someone is indicted, they have to be stripped of any leadership titles they have,” she said.
Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said, “I think that the allegations are very, very disturbing and it’s of great concern to everyone, but obviously whatever is happening is moving very, very quickly, so rather than conjecture, I’m sure that within the next few days it will be very clear if this is beyond what he says.”