Paterson criticizes GOP's state Senate 'coup'

ALBANY - The state Senate did not hold a session Wednesday, despite Republicans? hopes of opening the chamber with Sen. Dean Skelos (R- Rockville Centre) as majority leader.

Gov. David Paterson called on both Senate Democrats and Republicans to resolve the power struggle in order to accomplish legislative decisions. Paterson told Democratic leaders to open the chambers and vote on the Senate leadership, even though his fellow Democrats may lose power after a vote.

In a news conference Wednesday, two days after Democratic senators Pedro Espada Jr., from the Bronx, and Hiram Monserrate, of Queens, voted with Republicans, thus helping the GOP take control of the Senate, Paterson said he does not agree with the timing of the so called "coup."

"You can't just go into the chamber and change the leadership of the Senate at a whim every moment," he said. "It's a malfeasance of duty and, in my opinion, an insult to government."

Democratic Majority Leader Malcolm Smith called the move illegal and threatened to file a lawsuit. According to Smith's spokesperson, Espada voted with Republicans not to create a bipartisan coalition, as he stated, but in retaliation after Smith rejected his $2 million in earmark requests.

Though Senate Republicans had originally intended to open a legislative session at 3 p.m., Democrats kept the chamber locked. Espada claimed to have the keys, but did not show them or explain where he got them.

AP wire services contributed to this article.

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