After being indicted on corruption charges Tuesday, ousted State Senator Hiram Monserrate is now facing additional legal woes over donations to his legal defense fund while he was in the Senate (at the time he was futilely fighting other criminal charges relating to his assault of his then-girlfriend). Also, he has the sniffles. Hiram, this video is for you. Get well soon!
The state Legislative Ethics Commission, which has been criticized by some watchdog groups for not cracking down hard enough on politicians, is the latest to pile on poor sickly Monserrate. The Commission has formally asked the Albany DA to look into donations made to Monserrate's legal defense fund, and alleges [pdf] that $128,945 in contributions were obtained, in part, from individuals that had business before the Senate. The Commission also says Monserrate "directly solicited registered lobbyists and clients of lobbyists for contributions." If so, it would violate the state's gift ban law, which prohibits lawmakers from accepting gifts of more than a nominal value.
Yesterday the Daily News caught up with Monserrate, who told a reporter, "I'm on my way to the doctor's office. I have a bad flu." In a raspy voice he said, "My lawyer told me I can't say anything. I wish I could talk, but I just can't." On the bright side, now that Hiram's no longer in office, he can finally take money from anybody he solicit from. Which is of course a Catch-22 because he no longer has any influence to peddle, but maybe he can get in on the next Lil Jon/Gary Busey fundraiser at Famiglia?