Senate Initiates Investigation Of Smith Coffee Toss
The Democratic Leader of the State Senate on Monday appointed an investigative committee to examine charges that Senator Ada Smith, who represents Broad Channel, threw hot coffee in the eyes of a member of her staff last week.
Senator David Patterson, the Senate's Minority Leader, gave the committee, made up of five senators, until next Tuesday to recommend steps that might be taken against Smith for what he calls "inappropriate and unprofessional behavior."
"While I have no way of knowing the veracity of the charges," Patterson said, "I am very concerned about the alleged this alleged incident"
One political expert said that those actions could range anywhere from censure to expulsion.
Smith was charged by a former aide, Jennifer Jackson, with throwing a scalding cup of coffee in Jackson's face when the aide commented on the progress of Smith's diet.
Jackson also alleged that Smith pulled her by the hair during the confrontation.
Smith denied the allegations. "Nothing like that happened," she told reporters.
"The claims have been made by a disgruntled former employee and are completely and utterly false." Smith was arrested by Albany police and charged with third degree assault, a misdemeanor.
One Senate official, who asked not to be identified, told reporters, "This has gone on long enough. She has been out of control for years and we have to take some action against her to recognize [that fact] if she is convicted on this one."
Smith has a long list of problems with the law, both in Albany and in her district.
In 1996, Smith was charged with menacing an aide with a meat cleaver.
In 1998, she was subdued and maced by NYPD officers after she allegedly hit a police officer with her car after a traffic accident in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn.
In 2003, she was cited for nearly running down a state trooper who was guarding a parking garage because he asked her for identification.
Years prior to her election to the Senate, Smith was a deputy city clerk who performed marriages in Brooklyn. In that capacity, she was charged with assaulting a witness to a wedding with a garbage can cover and was cited for not allowing weddings to be photographed.
This week, The Daily News ran a political cartoon in which "Ada Smith" was joined by "Jerry Springer," who is quoted as saying, "Today on Jerry Springer, Mad dogs, Loons and a State Senator from Queens."
The committee appointed to investigate Smith will be chaired by Senator Carl Andrews and include Senators Velmanette Montgomery, Suzi Oppenheimer, John Sampson and Diane Savino.