ALBANY - A Republican from Western New York launched a drive Wednesday to get on her fellow GOP county leaders to call on Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to resign his leadership position while facing federal corruption charges.
Sandy King, the Yates County Republican chairwoman, began circulating a letter that asks her colleagues to sign on to her initiative. She wants all 62 GOP county leaders to contact state GOP Chairman Ed Cox to force Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) to step aside.
King said Skelos should retain his Senate seat, but he can’t remain the Senate leader -- and the party’s public face. Skelos, she noted, is the highest ranking Republican in New York.
“He is therefore a symbol of our party,” King wrote to her colleagues. “Anyone who has read the 43 pages of the complaint must come away with the conclusion that, if the factual accounts are accurate, Mr. Skelos should not be the public face of our party.
"I am not rendering any judgment as to his guilt or innocence -- only the judicial process will resolve that," King continued. "But I am making a political judgment that you can not hold a leadership position in the Republican Party, especially a position elected by your fellow Republican elected officials, while facing felony charges for corruption in office.”
Skelos, 67, Senate leader since 2011, and his son, Adam, 32, were arrested Monday on extortion, bribery and conspiracy charges. Federal officials accused the senator of extorting a real-estate company and an environmental company to hire Adam and send him title insurance and consulting work.
Skelos said he is innocent.
Fellow Republican senators said Monday they wanted to keep Skelos as leader. But four upstate Republican senators, as well as a few Assembly Republicans, have said he should step down.