A bill being debated in the City Council would ban ex-pols convicted of public corruption from running for office again — which, if passed, would have an immediate effect on former Councilman Hiram Monserrate.
The proposed law comes as Monserrate is making yet another comeback bid for his old Council seat this year.
The bill says politicians convicted of crimes involving the theft of taxpayer dollars or misuse of their public office would be disqualified from running for mayor and other citywide offices, borough president or Council.
In 2012, Monserrate pled guilty to misappropriating public funds earmarked for not-for-profit group during his time as a City Councilman and was sentenced to 21 months in federal prison.
Monserrate has been trying to return to elected office since he was expelled from the state Senate in 2010 after also being convicted of a misdemeanor assault charge involving his ex-girlfriend.
The ex-con has already lost four other comeback races for the Senate, Assembly and City Council in Queens, including against incumbent Councilman Francisco Moya in 2017 and Assemblyman Jeff Aubry last year. He’s running against Moya again.
Monserrate was elected district leader in 2018 and still has loyal backers.
The measure being pushed by Brooklyn Councilman Justin Brannan has strong support but is also facing resistance from Monserrate’s pal, Bronx Councilman and borough president candidate Fernando Cabrera, who chairs the governmental operations, which is reviewing the bill.
“Why take away the power from the people to decide who the elected official is gonna be,” Cabrera said during a recent hearing on the bill.
“I think there is danger for the bill to be politicized. I mean somebody [convicted of] mail fraud is not allowed to run and yet somebody we just saw in the Capitol two weeks [break into/invade the building] will be able to run, who committed crimes of homeland terrorism,” he said.
He also said Congress doesn’t prohibit ex-cons from running for office.
Cabrera, a pentecostal minister, also spoke about criminal justice reform and that people convicted of crimes be given second chances.
“There is redemption and I think it is up to the people to decide,.” he said.
Cabrera also questioned whether the law should be applied retroactively.
Cabrera, during a subsequent interview, admitted he and Monserrate are friends and the two have donated to each other’s campaigns. A source said the two have spoken about the bill.
There are ongoing discussions about the bill, which involve Council Speaker Corey Johnson, he said.
Johnson told The Post he backs the bill.
“It’s pretty simple. If you egregiously abuse the public trust, you don’t belong in city government,” Johnson said.
“I am a proud supporter of Intro. 0374 [the legislation], and eager to advance it for a vote before the Council.”
A source close to Monserrate said the bill unfairly targets him.
“The timing is questionable. It’s clearly an anti-Hiram bill,” the Monserrate confidante said.
Brannan said ex-pols convicted of stealing taxpayer dollars or abusing the public trust should be prohibited from running for office again. The issue, he said, is a no-brainer.
“At a time when trust in government is rock bottom, this is something we need to do. If you betray the public trust, you don’t get another shot,” Brannan said.
“I believe in second chances. But if you betray the public trust, go do something else.”
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