Timeline: The Fall of Dean Skelos as Senate Majority Leader
Timeline: The Fall of Dean Skelos as Senate Majority Leader
Following his arrest on corruption charges last week, state Sen. Dean Skelos has resigned as Senate majority leader. State Sen. John Flanagan of Long Island has been elected to succeed him.
“We had a very good contest and I am desperately looking forward to working with [Sen. John DeFrancisco] and all the members of our conference,” Flanagan told reporters after the closed-door meeting on Monday. “We come out of this unified and we are ready to do the people’s business. I know there’s a lot of work that has to get finished before the end of session, but I am very grateful of my colleagues in particular and we are now going to go into session to formalize this in the form of a resolution.”
Flanagan refused to say who his deputy leader would be, if it is no longer state Sen. Tom Libous—who faces a federal trial in July on corruption charges.
Immediately following Skelos’ arrest on May 4, the Senate Republican conference announced their continued support for him to continue in his leadership position. As the week went on and prominent state Republicans and donors called on Skelos to step down, his support began to unravel.
The series of events was similar to the fallout after former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on corruption charges by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara in January. Immediately following Silver's arrest, Assembly Democrats continued to support him, but quickly changed their tune in the face of mounting criticism. Silver resigned as speaker on January 30.
Skelos and his son, Adam, face charges of extortion, fraud and bribery, which are outlined in a damning 42-page complaint. Those charges allege that the former Senate majority leader unlawfully used his power and influence repeatedly to “illegally enrich his son, Adam, and indirectly himself.”
Flanagan’s rise to Senate majority leader leaves the Senate Education Committee chair vacant. News reports said Flanagan narrowly beat out upstate Sen. John DeFrancisco for the leadership position.
UPDATE: After being sworn in as the new Senate majority leader, Flanagan announced he had left his outside job at a Long Island-based law firm. Like Skelos and Silver, Flanagan was employed as “of counsel” at Forchelli, Curto, Deegan, Schwartz, Mineo & Terrana.
“I have to [resign] because I have a pretty good idea of what this job is," Flanagan said. "I recognize how much time, effort and energy needs to be associated with it and I have had conversations with my firm and made a decision to leave the firm because if I’m going to do this job in the right way, I’m going to be all over the state and this is 24-7—I’m not sure I’d say 365 days a year—but certainly well over 300 days a year.”
Flanagan said members of the Senate Republican conference are “confident” he will be able to lead and said there are no concerns that he could be subject to a federal investigation or arrest like his predecessors.
Flanagan also said that state Sen. Tom Libous would continue in his role as deputy leader, despite his upcoming federal trial, and that there is currently no replacement to chair the Senate Education Committee.
Below is a timeline of the events that led to Skelos' resignation as Senate majority leader:
Jan. 30, 2015
- WNBC reports state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is being investigated by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara for his outside income and ties to the real estate industry.
- Wayne Barrett in City & State outlines Skelos’ outside income and his son Adam’s job history at real estate companies and lobbying firms with business before the state.
- The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal report Skelos and his son are expected to be arrested on federal corruption charges the following week.
- Federal authorities arrest Skelos and his son on charges of extortion, fraud and bribery charges. The allegations are outlined in a 42-page criminal complaint that includes secretly recorded conversations between Dean and his Adam and evidence of intimidation tactics. In his first public statement Dean Skelos roundly declares his innocence. Republican state Sen. John Bonacic becomes the first conference member to call on Skelos to step down from his leadership post. State Sen. John DeFrancisco says he would be interested in leading the Senate should Skelos step aside.
- State Senate Republicans exit a three-hour conference just after midnight to announce their continued support for Skelos as majority leader. Sen. Ken LaValle tells reporters there is a “strong consensus” to keep Skelos on as leader, but declines to say what Skelos told members during the conference.
- State Senate Democrats walk out of the Senate Chamber in protest after Republicans refuse to allow a motion that would suspend the chamber’s rules and allow a vote to remove Skelos as majority leader. Gov. Andrew Cuomo addresses the charges publicly for the first time, calling them “deeply disturbing,” but refuses to back growing calls for Skelos to step down.
- Skelos’ office releases a statement of continued support from 16 members of his conference while at least seven Senate Republicans and several Republican county executives publicly call on Skelos to resign his leadership post.
- NY1 reports that Skelos is threatening to resign his seat—and risk the Senate Democrats gaining control of the chamber—if members of his conference continue to call for him to step down. State Sens. John Flanagan and John DeFrancisco, both Republicans, have emerged as the two most likely candidates to succeed Skelos. City & State reports that support for Skelos in Western New York is dwindling as several prominent Republicans call for him to step down.
- The Daily News reports Skelos would consider stepping down from his leadership post if Flanagan, a fellow Long Islander, is picked to succeed him, after major GOP donors threaten to pull their support from the state Senate Republicans. As of Saturday, no specific deal had been reached. On Monday, Skelos faces the choice between voluntarily removing himself or being publicly voted out on the Senate floor.
- After a closed-door conference, Skelos resigns his leadership post and Sen. John Flanagan of Long Island is elected as his successor, beating out DeFrancisco. Skelos, like former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, will keep his Senate seat.