Skelos resigns leadership position, Flanagan replaces

Republican state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos resigned his leadership position Monday and will be replaced by state Sen. John Flanagan, of Northport.

In the six-count criminal complaint, prosecutors say Skelos used his power and influence to extort money from a real estate and environmental company for his son, Adam. They are facing extortion, fraud and bribery charges.

Skelos has said that he is innocent of the charges.

John Flanagan, of Northport, became the new Senate majority leader, one of the most powerful political positions in the state. He beat back a challenge from a senator from the Syracuse area who was also vying for the post.

"I've had a number of conversations with my colleagues from upstate and I want to make it clear to them that I will do everything conceivable to respect our geographic distinctions and recognition that we are one state," said Flanagan.

Flanagan was chosen after Senate Republicans held a three-hour closed-door meeting. At that meeting, Dean Skelos, of Rockville Centre, agreed to relinquish his post.

The Senate and state Assembly both have new leaders after the arrests of the previous leaders.

"I think it's extraordinarily important for people to have faith in their government and I want to work to the largest extent possible to help effectuate that," said Flanagan.

In a statement, Skelos said, "The past seven days have taken a tremendous toll on my entire family, including my wife, my son, my 94-year-old father, my brothers and sisters and two young grandchildren, who have all been unfairly placed under the media's spotlight. The last thing I would ever want to do is distract from the good work that Senate Republicans have done or make it more difficult to close down this legislative session in a positive and productive way."

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