ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – New York state Sen. Kevin Parker, who was convicted of a misdemeanor in a confrontation with a press photographer, has lost one of his leadership posts but keeps another one worth $9,000.
The Brooklyn Democrat was acquitted of felony assault in the 2009 scuffle in which prosecutors said a New York Post photographer’s finger was broken after Parker grabbed his camera. Parker at the time was facing foreclosure of his home. The photographer’s car was also damaged, leading to the criminal mischief misdemeanor.
A senator immediately loses his or her seat and a base salary of $79,500 a year plus stipends and per diem payments if convicted of a felony. Parker’s penalty could further complicate how New York legislators are treated when convicted of misdemeanors.
This week Parker lost the conference “whip” position he held last year. That job involves helping the conference round up votes on difficult issues. It carries a $14,500 stipend this year in the Senate’s Democratic minority.
Parker, who won his sixth term in November, will still get $9,000 for being the top Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee.
He didn’t respond to a request for comment left at his office Tuesday.
Senate Democratic Leader John Sampson, also from Brooklyn, told reporters Monday during the second week of the legislative session that he would await Parker’s sentencing before considering censuring Parker, a more embarrassing public rebuke.
That changed Tuesday.
“Sen. Sampson had to send a message at the start of the session and couldn’t let the conviction stand without taking action,” said Sampson spokesman Austin Shafran. “So he stripped Sen. Parker of his position.”
Parker was arrested in 2005 on charges of punching a traffic agent who was writing him a ticket. The charge was dropped after Parker agreed to take an anger management class.
The case further muddies how convictions impact sitting senators, many of whom over the years have faced misdemeanors.
In February, Democratic Sen. Hiram Monserrate of Queens was expelled from the Senate because of his conviction on misdemeanor assault involving the slashing of his girlfriend’s face. He was acquitted of felony assault. He lost a federal lawsuit that challenged the action on the grounds that sitting lawmakers were previously removed for felonies, not misdemeanors.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)