By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- It was with much fanfare in December when the all-white Senate Independent Democratic Conference welcomed Sen. Malcolm Smith, its first and only African American member, into the breakaway club that formed a coalition with Republicans to control the Senate.
Seven hours after Smith was arrested this morning by FBI agents at his Queens home on corruption charges, the IDC announced it is taking away the committee and leadership posts. The exact dollar amount, in terms of the stipend Smith got for the assignments beyond his base pay of $79,500, was not immediately certain.
Senate co-leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx Democrat who runs the IDC, said Smith had "breached the trust'' of the independent Democratic group that has helped keep the main Democratic conference from taking control of the Senate.
Klein said Smith should "seriously consider'' stepping down.
"These are very serious allegations that, if true, constitute a clear betrayal of the public trust,'' Klein said in a statement.
UPDATE: A Klein spokesman said Smith was getting a $12,500 annual stipend for his chairmanship of the social services committee.
Others agree corruption is not good.
Senate Democratic conference leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said the allegations against Smith are "deeply disturbing'' and amounts to "an unacceptable and outrageous violation of the public trust for which there should be no place in our government.''
And this just in from Senate co-leader Dean Skelos, a Long Island Republican: "The allegations outlined involving Malcolm Smith are extremely troubling. I concur with the swift decision made by Independent Democratic Leader Jeff Klein to strip him of his committee assignments and his conference leadership position.''