2015-12-16 / Political Page

Avella Loses Senate Post As Committee Chair

BY JOHN TOSCANO


Potograph as a hire work for Tony Avella Potograph as a hire work for Tony Avella State Senator Tony Avella, a Democrat, revealed earlier this week that he had been serving as Chairman of the Ethics Committee in the Republican-controlled Senate since last January, but was abruptly removed in May after Senate leader Dean Skelos was arrested on corruption charges.

The strange story appeared in yesterday’s New York Post, where Avella revealed he had spoken with a reporter. He didn’t explain how he got the chairman’s post, but it could be connected to Avella’s membership in the Senate’s Independent Democratic Conference, which has a loose relationship with the Republican leadership.

Avella’s removal from the chairman’s post following Skelos’ arrest was not fully explained either, but that could have happened because a new Senate Majority Leader, Senator John Flanagan succeeded Skelos.

Avella (D–Northeast Queens) said he had planned to hold his first meeting as chairman in March, which would have been the panel’s first meeting since 2009, but “the hearing never occurred and all of a sudden I’m no longer the chair of the committee” he was quoted.

But last month Avella was called as a witness against Skelos and his son Adam, and he testified he scheduled the hearing when he learned there had been no committee activity there since 2009.

The Post story contained a reference to the State Senate spokesman not named, who said the Ethics Committee rarely held public meetings because its main focus is conducting investigations, and Avella had abruptly been replaced as chairman in a “shuffle” prompted by Skelos’ resignation as majority leader.

Last Friday, Skelos and son were both convicted on the corruption charges.

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