Embattled Bronxchester State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. held a dramatic press conference yesterday to hit back at Democratic officials trying to oust him from the party. Brandishing a thick stack of 10,000 petition signatures in support of his re-election campaign, Espada stood outside a Board of Elections office and shouted, "Ten thousand Democrats, they have said you will not dis-enroll us you will not disenfranchise us. We want Pedro on the ballot. He is our Democrat. He's our senator... The attacks against me are attacks against the community I represent, who are Latinos, working class African-Americans. I am a Christian, I am Catholic, I am God-fearing, and I have God on my side."

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has filed a civil suit against Espada, accusing him of siphoning $14 million from his non-profit health clinic (which receives millions in taxpayer money) for himself and his family. And criminal charges related to tax fraud are expected against Espada soon. CBS 2 HD reports that a new round of subpoenas were served on a group of Espada's Senate staffers Monday. According to the report, the subpoenaed staffers are "people who get paid by the state to work for Espada and paid by Espada to do private legal work for him, which may be a conflict."

Opponents are also accusing Espada of giving out free food in exchange for those petition signatures. "Giving food in exchange for petition signatures is a clear violation of election law, so we do question the validity of those petition signatures," says Horacio Gutierrez, spokesman for primary opponent Gustavo Rivera. And one Espada constituent sums it up neatly: "It's just another device. Let's face it, the man is a sleazy politician."

Aw, but he has grandchildren! Check out this adorable video of Espada holding up his granddaughter at the press conference. Why does that meanie Cuomo want to destroy such a cutiepie? As Espada asked an absent Cuomo yesterday, "Why do you insist on trying to destroy my family when the very, very underpinning of your candidacy for governor is because your father laid the groundwork for your family?":

Espada says he's been a Democrat all his life, so let's all just forget about how he became a Republican during the Senate coup last summer that brought Albany to a standstill (though to be fair it doesn't take much). Espada's "amigo" in the coup, Senator Ruben Diaz, was by his side yesterday, and said, "A good Democrat is the one that supports and fights for our programs." He was apparently referring to Espada(?), who summed up his troubles thus: "We know too well about discrimination, we know too well about xenophobia. If you look brown and you're an immigrant, you're not supposed to have power."

More video for you Espadaphiles: