State Sen. Kathy Marchione, R-Halfmoon, is joining a few of her Republican colleagues in publicly calling on Dean Skelos to step down as Senate majority leader.
Marchione’s push for the top Senate Republican to resign comes after local freshman state Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam, said Skelos should step down to allow the Senate to focus on work this session.
“This morning I called Sen. Dean Skelos to let him know that I would be calling on him to step down as leader of our conference,” Marchione said. “I felt that he needed to hear it from me first. I came to this decision after a great deal of prayer, reflection and deliberation.”
Marchione said it is “necessary” for the Nassau County Republican to step down as leader after he and his son, Adam, 32, were arrested Monday on federal charges of extortion and soliciting bribes. Authorities say Skelos traded his influence as the state’s most powerful Republican to arrange payments for his son. Both Skelos and his son say they are innocent.
Marchione said she “believes in the presumption of innocence” and stressed how former Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, R-Brunswick, was ultimately acquitted of bribery charges.
“I feel strongly that everyone is entitled to the presumption of innocence and should not be tried in the media,” she said. “However, my calling for Sen. Skelos to step down was necessary because it had become clear that he cannot effectively lead our conference.”
The Senate GOP met Monday night and agreed to keep Skelos as majority leader. Locally, state Sens. Hugh Farley, R-Niskayuna, and Jim Seward, R-Milford, support Skelos remaining as leader. Farley and Seward signed on to a statement released Wednesday night in support of Skelos. A total of 16 Republican senators signed the statement, out of 33 in the 63-member Senate.
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats are pushing for a vote to oust Skelos as leader, attempting unsuccessfully on Wednesday to force a vote on the matter.
There has been no clear indication of who would replace Skelos as majority leader if he were to step aside. Names that have been mentioned include Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan of Suffolk County, Senate Republican Campaign Committee Chairwoman Cathy Young of Cattaraugus County and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco of Syracuse.
In January, Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, resigned as that chamber’s speaker following federal charges that he took nearly $4 million in kickbacks. Silver, 70, who held his top position for 21 years, has a November trial date.