ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Republican Dean Skelos resigned from his position Monday as leader of the state Senate following his arrest on federal corruption charges and was quickly replaced by another Long Island lawmaker, Sen. John Flanagan.
New York Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos speaks to members of the media following a conference with Republican senators on June 17, 2011 in Albany, New York. (Photo by Matthew Cavanaugh/Getty Images)
Skelos, who intends to keep his legislative seat, becomes the latest leader to lose his power in a state government marred by corruption. Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver stepped down from his leadership position early this year.
Skelos, a 67-year-old Nassau County resident, is fighting charges he traded his influence for payments to his son, Adam Skelos, who is also charged in the case. Both men say they are innocent.
The resignation comes after Democrats vowed to force a vote on Skelos' ouster. Skelos held onto power for a week following his arrest, but his support among the Senate's Republican majority steadily eroded.
Flanagan emerged as Skelos' replacement after a three-hour closed-door meeting of Senate Republicans. Sen. John DeFrancisco, who had also contended for the top position, was at Flanagan's side as he announced his victory.
"We come out of this unified," said Flanagan, 54, a 29-year legislative veteran who had led the Senate education committee. "There is a lot of work that needs to get finished."
In the formal Senate vote, Flanagan was elected leader with 33 ayes. The 63-member chamber has 32 Republicans; in a symbolic move, the chamber's Democrats nominated Sen. Andrea Stewart-Cousins to be leader.
The #NYSenate has elected Sen. John J. Flanagan as the Temporary President of the Senate for the remainder of the 2015-16 term.— New York Senate (@NYSenate) May 11, 2015
Seven top state lawmakers have stepped down in the past six years because of criminal charges or scandal. In January, Silver was charged with accepting nearly $4 million in payoffs. Silver stepped down as speaker but kept his Assembly seat and has pleaded not guilty.
Skelos, 67, was first elected to the Senate in 1984. He did not address reporters Monday.
Authorities said the legislative veteran traded his influence to extort money from others with business before the state, including hundreds of thousands of dollars from a senior executive of a major real estate development firm who was cooperating with the government. The money was paid to Adam Skelos, authorities said, with the expectation that Dean Skelos would use his position to support the developer's legislative priorities.
Dean Skelos promoted and voted for real estate legislation sought by the developer, including some pertaining to rent regulation and property tax abatements, the complaint said.
The probe focused in part on whether Skelos influenced Nassau County's decision to award a $12 million contract to Arizona-based AbTech Industries in 2013. Adam Skelos worked for the company as a consultant; investigators claim his monthly pay more than doubled after the contract was approved.