Although New York State Senate Republicans have largely stood in support of GOP Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, following the arrest of Skelos and his son, Adam Skelos, by federal authorities Monday on extortion, fraud and bribe solicitation charges, several Republican leaders have now asked Skelos to step down.
Tuesday, Sen. Robert Ortt, a Republican from the Buffalo area, along with Republican Senators John Bonacic (R-Mount Hope, Orange County), and Rich Funke (R-Penfield, Monroe County), have released statements calling for Skelos to resign.
In addition, other Upstate New York Republicans have also broken ranks with the GOP, and opposed Skelos’ decision to continue as majority leader.
Monroe County Republican Chairman Bill Reilich said he recommended Skelos step down, particularly in light of the fast-approaching close of the legislative session.
“There is still much important work to be done in Albany before the close of the legislative session,” Reilich said in a statement. “The final post-budget months sometimes are the most critical, and require a great deal of time and attention on the part of our legislators. Now is not the time to have someone leading the New York State Senate who cannot give their full time, and attention, to the matters at hand. I believe that Sen. Skelos should step down from his leadership position until this matter is brought to a conclusion. I feel this action would be in the best interest of all of our residents and taxpayers.”
Additionally, although Gov. Andrew Cuomo has largely stayed quiet on the matter, the most recent Republican candidate for governor, and Westchester County executive, Rob Astorino has criticized the Republican conference’s decision to stand behind Skelos.
“If Albany’s politicians showed the same sense of urgency and commitment to protect taxpayers, and rescue the economy, as they do to protect and rescue indicted colleagues, New York would lead the nation in growth and prosperity, instead of corruption, taxes and population loss,” Astorino stated.
And, still other Republicans have spoken out against Skelos, including former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, Saratoga County.
“If I were his defense attorney, I’d want him to focus on the trial, and not anything else,” Giuliani stated.
Skelos, a Republican who represents Long Island’s the ninth district, has said he is innocent of the charges, and plans to continue to lead both the Republican conference and the Senate.
“With just six weeks left in the 2015 legislative session, there is still a lot of important work to be done for the people of this state,” Skelos said in a statement.
Sixteen senators, including 15 Republicans and Simcha Felder of Brooklyn, a Democrat who caucuses with the GOP, signed a letter in support of Skelos Wednesday. Sixteen other Republican senators did not sign the document.