Coup in NY State Senate: Rumors that Tom Golisano is behind it

Below are excerpts from Elizabeth Benjamin’s coverage and commentary posted on her Daily Politics blog over at the Daily News.

Smith: I’m Still Leader, Monserrate: I’m Still A Democrat
June 8, 2009

Sen. Malcolm Smith’s office just issued a press release deeming today’s takeover by the Senate Republicans that appears to have dumped him from his leadership post “illegal” and insisting that he’s still in control.

From the majority press office in exile, attributed to Smith’s spokesman, Austin Shafran:

“This was an illegal and unlawful attempt to gain control of the Senate and reverse the will of the people who voted for a Democratic Majority. Nothing has changed, Senator Malcolm A. Smith remains the duly elected Temporary President and Majority Leader. The real Senate Majority is anxious to get back to governing, and will take immediate steps to get us back to work.”

Meanwhile, Sen. Hiram Monserrate, whose defection – along with his fellow amgio, Sen. Pedro Espada Jr. – enabled the Republicans to coup Smith, issued this statement:

“I am a life-long Democrat and remain a loyal Democrat. After today’s proceedings, I am proud to form a bi-partisan coalition that has elected the first Latino President pro Tem of the New York State Senate, my colleague, the Honorable Pedro Espada Jr. We look forward to conferencing with fellow Democrats to ensure that real reforms become a reality in the State of New York.”

When last I checked, the Senate Republicans were about to have a press conference with the once-and-future (?) Majority Leader Dean Skelos, President Pro Tempore (?) Espada and the man who reportedly was the mastermind behind this whole thing: Tom Golisano, did it all in the name of reform, I’m told.

Meanwhile, the rest of the amigos – Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. and Sen. Carl Kruger, neither of whom had a role in this – were holed up in Espada’s office.

According to a source close to Kruger, Monserrate assured Kruger that he’s going to get to keep his post as Finance Committee chairman, which wouldn’t be the first time the Republicans let Kruger keep a committee.

At this point, it’s all kind of a mess.

from Benjamin’s post
True Power-Sharing in Senate?

…Apparently, Sen. Hiram Monserrate, who, as you’ll recall, is right now fighting felony assault charges that could lead to the loss of his seat entirely if he’s convicted, will be…wait for it…vice chair of the Rules Committee.

Don’t forget that Espada, too, is under investigation by AG Andrew Cuomo’s office.

This whole deal was engineered with a big assist from Mr. Reform himself, Tom Golisano, (and his adviser, Steve Pigeon, who is close to Espada going back years, I’m told).

“It’s going to be shockingly nonpartisan; it’s all about procedural reform,” said my source. “I don’t think you’re going to see the Republicans taking a huge victory lap.”…

7 thoughts on “Coup in NY State Senate: Rumors that Tom Golisano is behind it

  1. Kimberly Wilder Post author

    (I had written this as an opening to the story above. But, I realized it was thick on opinion and commentary. Hope the story stands alone as important to our readers. But, if not…here is my “justification” that it is a third party story!)


    In the New York State Senate, the Republicans have held a coup, and taken over the majority position and committee chairmanships, even though the Democrats have the majority of members. Even if this story was only about major parties, it is of interest for third party activists, because it exposes the myth that there are bold differences between the Democrats and Republicans. It shows how easily politicians can turn from one major party to the other, inside the cozy “honor among thieves” agreement of the two-party establishment.

    Though, add to the story, that veteran NY political blogger Elizabeth Benjamin says that Tom Golisano was behind the coup, and it is now very clearly a third party story. Tom Golisano was a co-founder of the Independence Party in New York. Golisano recently made a flamboyant exit to the state of Florida, saying that he was taxed out of New York State. Perhaps, he meant his Op Ed piece stating his intentions as a final request for resolution before he made this huge maneuver on NY state politics?

  2. Kimberly Wilder

    Guess those Golisano rumors were true.

    An update from Elizabeth Benjamin:

    –Flanked by Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, Sen. Tom Libous and Tom Golisano, Espada explained himself thusly:

    “While I would like to be jubilant, it’s difficult to be jubliant,” Espada insisted. “This is a sobering moment born out of the need to have a coalition government – a need to really give the citizens of New York that we all work for, that we all service that we all care for, the kind of coalition government that will be focused on reform, that will be focused on delivering to them government they can be proud of…

    Skelos thanked Golisano for being a leader in pushing the state to reform, and then he challenged Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to follow the Senate’s lead in enacting the rules changes passed in the wake of today’s takeover.

    Asked about his top priorities for the remainder of the session, which is scheduled to end on June 22, Skelos listed property tax relief, getting the STAR rebate checks restored and mayoral control, which he called “one of my top priorities,” adding: “I think we can get it done.”–

    end quote from EB’s story

  3. Catholic Trotskyist

    I hereby ask all Catholic Trotskyists and fellow travelers to pray for the wrath of God to pour down upon Monserrate and Espada, for them to realize the error of their ways and stop their soul-selling to the Nader/McAuliffe/Bush/McCain/Palin New World Order cotnrol conspiracy, and return power to the Democratic Party, where it belongs and always will belong, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, in the name of Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharin, James Cannon, and all of the departed socialist and christian and Jewish and Muslim and Buddhist revolutionary heroes, amen.

  4. Donald Raymond Lake

    American Reform, Reform USA [A], Reform USA [B], Reform USA [C], reform party ‘action group’, Independent Green Parties, Independence Parties:

    Gypsies, Tramps, and Thieves………

  5. paulie

    “honor among thieves”

    There is none, at least among those I have known while I was in that profession.

  6. Third Party Revolution

    According to, Tom Golisano is considering running for the US Senate race in Florida either for the Democratic Party’s nomination or the Florida Independence Party’s nomination.

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