Former Councilman and state Sen. Hiram Monserrate’s latest attempt to return to the good graces of Democratic voters appears to have been short-circuited once again, this time by a 44-1 vote of the City Council.
The Council on Feb. 11 passed Intro. 0374, which will ban politicians convicted of certain felonies involving public corruption “from holding the office of Mayor, Public Advocate, Comptroller, Borough President or Council Member.”
The last citation is the key, as Monserrate, at least for the moment, appears intent on continuing his challenge to Councilman Francisco Moya (D-Corona) to reclaim the seat he once held.
Monserrate went from the Council to the state Senate in 2009, but subsequently was convicted of misdemeanor assault in a 2008 case involving his girlfriend. The Senate expelled him in 2010 by a vote of 53-8.
He ran for his open seat but lost to the late Jose Peralta.
He then ran for Peralta’s open seat in the Assembly but lost to Moya.
But in 2012, Monserrate also pleaded guilty to federal charges of mail fraud and mail fraud conspiracy in connection with the misuse of money to help pay for his 2006 Senate campaign, and served 21 months in prison.
Since then he has lost a 2017 Council race to Moya and last year lost a primary against veteran Assemblyman Jeffrion Aubry (D-Corona).
He has, however, been elected as a Democratic district leader.
The Chronicle was unable to reach Monserrate’s campaign for comment, including whether he would seek legal redress. But on Twitter he flatly accuses the bill’s primary sponsor, Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), of resurrecting a nearly three-year-old bill for the sole purpose of keeping him from running.
“Dear Councilman Brannan,” Monserrate tweeted on Feb. 12, “You are entitled to your opinion but not your own facts! This was a [Councilman Ritchie] Torres-Moya bill submitted in 2018 and resurfaced after I filed w [the city’s Campaign Finance Board]. You were the next CM up to whitewash the real agenda PROTECT MOYA.”
The only person voting against the measure in the Council was Ruben Diaz (D-Bronx).
All members of the Queens delegation voted in favor with the exception of Councilwoman Karen Koslowitz (D-Forest Hills), who was absent. But Koslowitz also was one of the co-sponsors of the bill, along with Bob Holden (D-Middle Village), Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), Peter Koo (D-Flushing), Adrienne Adams (D-Jamaica) and Paul Vallone (D-Bayside).
A spokeswoman for Mayor de Blasio told the Chronicle via email on Tuesday that the mayor supports the bill.
Even if not aimed specifically at Monserrate, Brannan’s bill could not have been better tailored to do just that.
Among the seven citations of New York State penal code in the bill are those addressing:
• bribery in public service;
• corruption in government;
• first- through fourth-degree grand larceny; and
• defrauding the government.
The citations of the United States Code also are telling, including:
• theft or bribery concerning programs using U.S. government funds;
• fraud, mail fraud and “scheming or artifice to defraud;”
• interference with commerce by threats or extortion; and
• “any felony attempt or conspiracy to commit any of the aforementioned felonies.”
But on Feb. 11, Monserrate tweeted that he is undeterred.
“My debt to society has been paid,” he wrote. “My family and I have moved forward w/ our lives. Criminal justice reform must be more than a hashtag. Every returning citizen should be able to exercise the full measure of their American Citizenry. I will press on.”