ICYMI: Sen. George Latimer told me during a CapTon interview last night that his two Democratic colleagues most recently charged with wrongdoing – Sens. Malcolm Smith and John Sampson – should either voluntarily give up their seats or face expulsion proceedings by their peers in order to preserve whatever modicum of trust New Yorkers have left in the Legislature.

“We need to have a hard line, and when you cross that hard line and there’s credible prosecutorial information that shows you’ve done this, you need to leave,” Latimer said. “You need to resign. If we need to expel you, if we have, you know, critical mass to do that, then we ought to do that. Because the institution is bigger than me; it’s bigger than them.”

“..I believe both of them should (resign), and not because I hold any personal animus toward them. but in both cases there is substantial prosecutorial information that really questions whether or not people have public trust in an institution.”

“You can certainly defend your right to be proven innocent in the future, but you ought to do that on your own time instead of in the middle of a Legislature where you’re making policy decisions.”

Latimer is a former Westchester County assemblyman who was elected to the Senate last year. He claimed last night that none of the seven lawmakers caught on ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley’s secret recordings is a “new” member of the Democratic conference – in other words, elected post-coup.

The Democrats have been trying to convince the public that they are remaking their conference, have gotten rid of the worst apples among them and deserve another shot at the majority. The recent developments here at scandal central have undercut that argument considerably, however – especially since they have been concentrated in the Democratic conference.

(That is not to say that corruption is a Democrat problem, however. To the contrary, a number of names on the bad actors list belong to Republicans).

Anyway, it turns out Latimer was wrong in his claim, because Queens Sen. Jose Peralta, who replaced former Sen. Hiram Monserrate – the long former member with the distinction of having been expelled from the chamber by his colleagues – back in 2010. Monserrate subsequently ran for Peralta’s old Assembly seat and lost to now-Assemblyman Francisco Moya.

Lasy year, Monserrate was sentenced to two years behind bars after he pleaded guilty to charges he used funds and workers from a nonprofit to finance his Senate run. The start date of that sentence was recently delayed to allow Monserrate to get some much-needed dental work done.

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