Skelos, Son Charged With Fraud And Extortion

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his 32-year-old son Adam Skleos have been charged with six counts of fraud and extortion, according to a complaint released by federal investigators on Monday.

The 43-page complaint alleges the elder Skelos sought to “monetize” his official position in order to influence public policy on behalf of a company that employed Adam Skelos while also leaning on members of the real-estate community for campaign donations.

Skelos is accused of backing favorable legislation that benefited real-estate developers tied to the case as well as helping arrange for a favorable contract in Nassau County that was directed to AbTech, which employed Adam Skelos.

The charges outlined in the complaint come after Skelos and his son surrendered to federal authorities earlier this month. Both men are named as co-defendants in the case that comes just months after Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on corruption charges.

Senate Republicans are due to meet privately at the Capitol this afternoon, where the charges are expected to be discussed.

The case against Skelos, a Long Island Republican who has led the Senate GOP conference since 2008, relies on a cooperating witness identified as a developer and another is an executive at AbTech, the Arizona-based company that employed his son.

Investigators relied as well on wire tapped phone calls of both his phone as well as Adam’s cell phone.

Both men are accused of using a disposable or “burner” cell phone and used “coded language” in order to communicate.

At one point, Adam Skelos is overheard in a wire tap that “It’s like [expletive] Preet Bharara is listening to every [expletive] phone call.”

The investigation stretched back to 2010, just before Senate Republicans gained a full majority in the chamber, accusing Skelos of taking official action on votes as well as efforts to include favorable legislation into the state budget.

The complaint alleges Skelos directly asked to send its insurance title work to his son and alleges the lawmaker would “punish member of the real estate community” if they didn’t contribute enough campaign money.

Company officials at AbTech were under the impression that if they “took care” of Skelos, then he would “take care of them” in kind, according to the complaint.

In emails, Skelos directed witnesses cooperating with the federal government to direct where company money would go, which was funneled through various LLC subsidiaries.

Skelos was “personally lobbied” on the extension of rent control regulations by the company in 2011. Skelos, in turn, backed legislation that year that was considered “crucial” to the success of one of the developers involved, including the expansion of the 421-a real-estate abatement.

The developer, identified as “Developer-1″ in the complaint, is likely part of Glenwood Management, a firm that has significant investment in AbTech and has ties to prolific campaign donor Leonard Litwin.

Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins in a statement called the charges “deeply disturbing.”

“I cannot imagine him continuing to serve as leader as he deals with the cloud of corruption now effecting the top two Senate Republican leaders,” she said in a statement. “There are many pressing issues that must be addressed during the remainder of the legislative session and the Senate Republican Majority must ensure that this body is not bogged down in scandal.”

Federal prosecutors are expected to outline the charges against Skelos and son later today at a news conference.

U S v Skelos 15 Mag 1492 (filed).pdf by Nick Reisman

Skelos, Son Surrendering To Authorities (Updated)

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son are turning themselves into federal authorities this morning, according to a source familiar with the matter.

Updated: Reports indicate that Dean Skelos and Adam Skelos are in custody at FBI headquarters in New York City.

Skelos, who is the highest elected Republican to hold office in the state, is the latest Albany politician to face federal charges brought on by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and his office. He and his 32-year-old son Adam have been at the center of a federal investigation for their ties to an Arizona-based company, AbTech, and its sewer project contract with Nassau County, where they both reside.

Last month, TWC News learned that eight of the nine Republican state senators who represent Long Island were subpoenaed regarding the case. Prosecutors were reportedly looking for a range of information, including documentation on the state budget.

Skelos becomes the latest in a string of high-ranking lawmakers involved charged in corruption related charges. Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested in January for using his position to take financial kickbacks. Silver has since pleaded not guilty, and while he still holds his seat in the Assembly, he did have to give up his position as speaker.

The same fate could await Skelos, with potential successors already emerging in discussions among political insiders. Those include Tom Libous, who has legal and health issues himself, John DeFrancisco out Syracuse, as well as Cathy Young.

5 Questions For The New Week

From the Morning Memo:

The state Capitol will likely be on edge for most of the day, if not the week, as Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his adult son Adam are about to be arrested on federal corruption charges.

The pending arrest of Skelos could very well throw the Senate Republican conference — a bedrock of relative stability this year following the arrest of Sheldon Silver in the Assembly in January — into a state of unusual flux.

The broader legislative session, too, is in peril. This is not so much a concern for Senate Republicans as it is a problem for Democratic lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who are pushing a variety of post-budget issues ranging from an extension of rent control, criminal justice reforms and curtailing sexual assaults on college campuses.

In short, there are some unanswered questions heading into this week of uncertainty. Here are few of them:

1. Will Skelos be replaced? That seems to be the questioned on everyone’s mind, though one with conflicting reports. Senate Republicans both on the record and privately over the weekend insisted Skelos could survive as leader and expressed varying degrees of support in him. Still, his future depends on the charges.

2. How severe will the charges be? One Republican operative on Sunday night suggested they may not be as bad as expected. The complaint against Silver — that he allegedly hid more than $4 million in illicit income — was tied both to his job as one of the state’s most powerful individuals and his role as an attorney. The charges stemming from Skelos and son’s arrest are expected to hinge on Adam Skelos’s employment at an Arizona-based firm that received a contract from Nassau County — Dean Skelos’s political backyard.

Severity, of course, is in the eye of the beholder. But the GOP conference could ultimately deem the legal complaint a witch hunt being conducted by Bharara’s office — similar to how Republicans view the case against Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous, who is accused of lying to the FBI in connection to his son’s own tax case.

The Republican operative was also skeptical of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, noting the news of the pending arrests was leaked on a Friday night including a draft complaint, which could lead to broader questions about the prosecutor’s intentions among GOP conference members.

3. What will Senate Democrats do? If anything, lawmakers in the Senate minority conference will push hard to capitalize on the Skelos news politically. The Senate remains narrowly divided, with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference acting as a potential buffer zone for the Senate Republicans. If Skelos remains in power, the Senate Democrats will have a field day, at least for a few weeks.

4. What will Assembly Democrats do? The majority conference in the Assembly has lived this movie before, so they will likely want to keep their heads down as much as possible. Democratic lawmakers in that chamber already have a number of issues they have to get done: rent control, monitoring the regulations for the new teacher evaluation law and an extension of mayoral control for New York City schools and criminal justice reform, just to name a few. All of these are measures the Senate GOP after the budget could have been in the cat bird seat. Now, staying in Albany longer than necessary during such a toxic time does not behoove them.

5. What will Gov. Andrew Cuomo do? Is the governor presiding under a corruption crisis? Should there be new ethics reforms? Is U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara trying to dismantle state government’s top leadership? What can he say to the people of New York that assure them state government is still functioning? Can New Yorkers trust their elected officials?

Cuomo’s role in the next few weeks is clearly more complex than that of a normal legislator. In addition to a legislative agenda now in peril over potential dysfunction, the governor will be answering fresh questions about the way Albany does business and what, if anything, he can do to change the public’s perception of the Capitol.

Here and Now

As Albany holds its collective breath, waiting for the reported imminent arrest on corruption charges of yet another legislative leader (this time, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos) – perhaps as early as today – Senate GOP conference members are scheduled to meet behind closed doors at 2 p.m. at the Capitol.

President Obama is in NYC today to attend a variety of DNC fundraisers and a public event in the afternoon. He’ll also tape an appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman. His visit will likely cause traffic problems in the already-congested city.

New Yorkers Against Gun Violence is holding its annual lobby day in Albany, with 150 students from NYC boarding buses early in the morning to travel up the Thruway to participate.

At 7:30 a.m., Staten Island DA and NY-11 GOP candidate Dan Donovan will greet morning commuters starting at Tottenville Train Station. He’ll then ride the train and greet commuters at the ferry terminal.

At 9:30 a.m., Donovan will greet voters at Bridgeview Diner, 9011 3rd Ave., Brooklyn.

At 10:30 a.m., Donovan will greet voters at La Bella Marketplace, 7907 13th Ave., Brooklyn.

At 11:30 a.m., Donovan will greet voters going door-to-door, starting at 937 76th St., Brooklyn.

At 1:00 p.m., Donovan will be a guest on Davidzon Radio 620AM.

At 2 p.m. in the Assembly and 3 p.m. in the Senate, UAlbany’s basketball teams are scheduled to be honored.

At 2:30 p.m., Donovan will greet voters outside PS 36, 255 Ionia Ave., Staten Island.

At 10 a.m., NYC elected officials and transit advocates from throughout New York to rally for advocated for an extensive and expansive federal transportation funding bill, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 11 a.m., the Capital District Working Families Party announces its support for a slate of candidates for Troy city government, Top of the Approach at RPI, near 110 8th Street, between Sage and Congress streets, Troy.

Also at 11 a.m., Family Planning Advocates members will hold a second day of action, rallying in favor of “comprehensive” reproductive health care, joined by a variety of elected officials – including Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins – Meeting Room 6, Empire State Concourse, Albany.

At noon, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio will attend the 2015 TechCrunch Disrupt conference, where he will deliver remarks and participate in a conversation with technology journalist Kim-Mai Cutler, Manhattan Center, 10th Floor, 311 W 34th St., Manhattan.

At 1 p.m., elected officials and advocates will gather to urge the Senate to pass a resolution that condemns actions of the Dominican Republic’s Constitutional Court, which stripped hundreds of thousands of Dominicans of Haitian descent of their citizenship, LCA Press Room (130), LOB, 198 State St., Albany.

At 1:30 p.m., IDC Leader Jeff Klein, Assemblymembers Amy Paulin, Michelle Schimel, and Brian Kavanagh will join approximately 150 students from New York City who will travel to Albany to express their desire for enhanced gun legislation, LOB, Hearing Room B, 198 State St., Albany.

Also at 1:30 p.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Carmen Farina visits the Bronx Career and College Preparatory High School with Deputy Mayor Richard Buery to make an announcement, 800 Home St., the Bronx.

At 2:30 p.m., President Obama will speak at Lehman College for the launch of My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a nonprofit organization, 250 Bedford Park Blvd,, the Bronx.

At 6 p.m., Donovan will greet voters going door-to-door, starting at 82 Westcott Blvd., Staten Island.

Headlines…

A full-blown battle to succeed soon-to-be-arrested Republican Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos got under way this weekend, Fred Dicker reports, as Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco, who had planned to retire next year, signaled he wanted the job.

As of yesterday, it was unclear if Skelos would attempt to retain his leadership post if charged, but some of his colleagues said they would support him if he wanted to remain at the chamber’s helm.

Assemblywoman Vivian Cook, a Queens Democrat, skirts on the edge of scandal while her fellow pols have been hauled off to prison. She also racked up thousands in per-diem expenses, including one 12-day stretch in 2010 when she said she was in Albany but didn’t attend any legislative sessions.

Struggling and underfunded NYC schools will get an additional $33.6 million under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s budget for 2016. The budget will be formally unveiled Thursday.

The NYT re-reports our past reporting that the hold-up in the Assembly on the pension forfeiture piece of the ethics reform package negotiated as part of the budget is being caused by labor unions.

De Blasio called the shooting in the head of a plainclothes NYPD officer “an unconscionable act of violence” and an attack “against the values we hold dear.”

The man accused of shooting the officer, Demetrius Blackwell, 35, is a repeat felon.

After a series of unfortunate events for the Democratic organization, the party’s line in tomorrow’s special election to fill former Assemblyman Karim Camara’s seat is vacant. Three Democrats are jockeying for votes in the special election Tuesday on party lines that include the Working Families Party, the Independent Party and the newly formed Love Yourself Party.

The Assembly Republicans received four Chevy Impalas paid for by the state. Assembly GOP spokesman Michael Fraser said the $24,000 cars will replace older, high-mileage vehicles.

The governor’s sister, cancer doctor Margaret Cuomo, previews the first ever NYS Cancer Prevention Summit, being sponsored by the state Health Department in NYC on May 20.

Manhattan Democratic District Leader Paul Newell said he is “very seriously considering” taking a second shot at the seat of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, who faces federal charges of extortion and mail and wire fraud. Newell ran an unsuccessful primary challenge to Silver in 2008.

A fund-raiser for President Obama happening blocks away from the Metropolitan Museum of Art as the annual Costume Institute Gala kicks off tonight could wreak havoc on drivers shuttling fashion insiders uptown.

More >

The Weekend That Was

Following a report that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his son, Adam, will be arrested on corruption charges sometime this coming week, talk has turned to whether someone in the GOP conference will try to replace the Long Island lawmaker as leader, or is he’ll step aside.

Pros and cons of some of the frontrunners to replace Skelos as leader.

A New York City police officer in plain clothes, Brian Moore, 25, was shot in the face and critically wounded on Saturday in Queens after driving up in an unmarked car to question a man on the street.

The man who shot Moore, Demetrius Blackwell, 35, was charged with one count of attempted murder, one of assault and two counts of criminal possession of a weapon.

The Republican candidate in a special election to fill New York’s 11th congressional district pledged today — just two days before the race — to “untax” constituents.

The Staten Island Advance endorsed Donovan over his Democratic opponent, Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile.

The Clinton campaign is advertising a Mother’s Day call from the candidate for the winner of an online contest.

As First Lady Chirlane McCray pushes to improve NYC mental health services, Mayor Bill de Blasio has quietly cut funding for the internationally known Samaritans suicide hotline.

Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes said she’s working with her staff, not Cuomo, on Buffalo mayoral control legislation that she plans to introduce tomorrow.

In the current year, 112 local governments borrowed $346 million to cover retirees’ pension costs – a drop of 27 percent from 2014, records from the state Comptroller’s Office said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this week dined with the executive director of JCOPE, the state ethics commission that oversees his administration, at a restaurant in upstate Saugerties owned by her extended family.

Now that the budget’s done, the governor and legislative leaders must address property tax relief, which didn’t end up in the final spending plan, the Poughkeepsie Journal says.

Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langowrthy says the party’s challenger to Democratic Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Assemblyman Ray Walter, will have “the necessary resources” to run a competitive campaign. Walter’s first test will be the July 15 campaign finance filing is due at the state Board of Elections.

By blaming teachers for some students’ poor academic performance, Cuomo has ignored the troubling racial segregation and socioeconomic inequity in New York’s public schools, AFT President Randi Weingarten said.

Weingarten also said she regrets supporting Cuomo’s LG running mate, Kathy Hochul, in the 2014 elections. The former UFT president recorded a last-minute robocall for the former congresswoman that irked some union members.

Darius G. Pridgen, a pastor and Buffalo Common Council president, headed to Baltimore today with plans to join a peaceful rally and make a statement on the importance of government listening when residents feel aggrieved.

Fred LeBrun says the state has been dragging its heels on criminal justice reform.

The state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation recently flipped the switch on a 50-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at Fort Niagara State Park. The solar energy system is expected to save $9,100 annually and bring a clean, modern source of energy to the park.

Bernie Sanders’ nascent presidential campaign announced that it raised more than $1.5 million in its first 24 hours, a number that far outpaces what Republican presidential hopefuls posted in their first day.

New York Times Co. shares leaped 10.7 percent in after-hours trading after Fox Business Network reported billionaire businessman Michael Bloomberg had expressed renewed interest in buying the paper.

AG Eric Schneiderman really isn’t running for governor in 2018.

Puerto Rico’s governor signed an executive order authorizing the use of medical marijuana in the U.S. territory in an unexpected move following a lengthy public debate.

Senate GOP Returns To Albany, With Skelos Under Scrutiny

An effort to oust Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, for the time being, does not appear to be underway.

Republican lawmakers interviewed over the weekend following the news that Skelos and his adult son Adam were soon to be arrested in connection to a federal corruption inquiry gave no indication they planned to topple their leader.

“I think he’s got a lot of support in the conference,” Sen. Hugh Farley, one of the longest serving incumbent lawmakers, said this weekend. “He’s an honest and decent guy.”

Farley added that Skelos is a “very unselfish leader” and hopes he continues at the top of the conference.Both men have spoken about the looming legal troubles, Farley confirmed.

Another lawmaker, Sen. Betty Little of Queensbury, said in a separate interview on Sunday that she was still absorbing the news.

“I really don’t know,” she said. “I only know what I’ve read in the paper. Whatever happens this week will have to be discussed.”

Nevertheless, Little added that she did not expect Skelos’s arrest to be a hindrance to the remainder of the legislative session, which is due to conclude June 17.

“We’re close to the end of the session and we’re not in a budget,” she said.

Little said she had not spoken to Skelos outside of conference about the matter in which he told lawmakers that he was cooperating with the investigation.

At least three other Republicans — Sens. Terrence Murphy, Marty Golden and Cathy Young — have expressed varying degrees of support for Skelos to other reporters over the weekend.

The caveat, of course, is a lot could change once the details of the charges facing Skelos become clear — as does the reaction from voters.

Republicans are lucky this is not happening in an election year, when the arrest of Skelos remains fresh on the minds’ of voters.

One operative this weekend pointed out that Skelos is not an ally of grassroots conservatives, who remain at odds with him over the perception he works too closely with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his support for the gun control law known as the SAFE Act.

Senate Republicans are returning to Albany this week as their top leader is the latest to fall under U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s anti-corruption ax.

The arrest will make him the second legislative conference this year alone to be charged with corruption — an unprecedented situation for a state Capitol that has already been beset and seemingly accustom to the arrests of elected officials.

Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, arrested in January, was ousted by his fellow Democrats in relatively rapid fashion as the speaker, a post he held since 1994.

Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly at the time expressed confidence in Silver’s leadership despite his arrest earlier in the day. But discontent with Silver grew over the weekend following his arrest on charges that he masked bribes and kickbacks as legal referrals.

Within days, Silver was out of the speaker’s chair and replaced with Bronx Democrat Carl Heastie.

Other lawmakers who have been officially accused of corruption in recent years have been quickly ostracized by their colleagues: Sen. John Sampson was kicked out of the mainline Democratic conference; Sen. Malcolm Smith was stripped of his leadership posts and conference position by IDC Leader Jeff Klein.

Other lawmakers have been stripped of committee chairmanships following accusations of bad behavior, including former Assemblyman Vito Lopez, who held power as the chair of the Housing Committee, gone following a critical report of sexual harassment and abuse.

And while it would be unusual to have a sitting majority leader under indictment, Senate Republicans have not been so willing to see kick their leaders over board

Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno had confirmed he was under investigation by the FBI in 2006 and stayed on in the top spot until 2008, just before he was charged with corruption. Bruno was later acquitted of the charges.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous remains in the number two post after he was indicted on a charge of lying to the FBI.

Two other Senate Republicans charged with corruption in recent years — Vincent Leibell and Nick Spano — were either on their way out or retired by that point.  Both served time in prison.

Potential Skelos replacements at the moment include Young, Senate Education Committee Chairman John Flanagan and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John DeFrancisco.

The political operative added that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, already under scrutiny for his handling of the Moreland Commission, may likely not want to appear negotiating the remaining session issues with an under-indictment Skelos.

Reports: Skelos And Son Face Arrest Next Week

The arrest of Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and his adult son on federal corruption charges could come as early as Monday, according to reports posted online Friday evening.

Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are reporting that Skelos, the highest elected Republican official in the state, could be the latest Albany figure to be arrested by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

The pending arrest of Skelos adds even more uncertainty to the remainder of the legislative session, which is scheduled to conclude June 17.

It is unknown if Skelos would continue on as the leader of the Senate Republicans, a post he has held since 2008, following the retirement of Sen. Joseph Bruno.

A successor to the GOP lawmaker remains unclear.

Replacements for Skelos that have been floated include Sen. John DeFrancisco of Syracuse, Sen. Cathy Young of Olean and Sen. John Flanagan of Suffolk County.

Complicating matters further for Senate Republicans is the condition of their deputy majority leader, Tom Libous: The Binghamton Republican, already undergoing treatments for terminal cancer, faces a charge of lying to the FBI in case revolving around his son’s employment at a politically connected law firm.

Nevertheless, Senate Republicans interviewed in last several weeks publicly backed Skelos, noting that charges were yet to materialize despite the reported investigation.

The arrest of Skelos would make him the second of the state’s trio of high-ranking officials to be charged with corruption this year — an unprecedented situation for a Capitol already reeling from a spate of high-proifle corruption cases.

Manhattan Democratic Assemblyman Sheldon Silver was arrested in January and later charged with fraud and extortion stemming from what investigators say were bribes that had been masked as legal referrals.

Silver was ousted as the speaker of the Assembly, a position he had held since 1994.

Federal prosecutors have reportedly been investigating Skelos and his 32-year-old son for their ties to an Arizona-based company, AbTech, and its sewer project contract with Nassau County.

Skelos confirmed in a statement that he was cooperating with the federal government’s inquiry.

Eight of the nine Republican senators who represent Long Island have received subpoenas in the case, with prosecutors seeking a range of information, including documentation on the state budget.

If arrested, Skelos would be the latest in a line of Senate majority leaders ranging from Bruno, to Sens. Pedro Espada, John Sampson and Malcolm Smith to face corruption charges.

Extras

Baltimore’s chief prosecutor charged six police officers on Friday with crimes including murder and manslaughter in the arrest and fatal injury of Freddie Gray.

Former Port Authority official and high school pal of NJ Gov. Chris Christie David Wildstein pled guilty to federal charges of conspiracy to commit fraud and conspiracy against civil rights in connection with the so-called “Bridgegate” scandal.

Wildstein admitted in federal court that he conspired with two other allies of Christie to close lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge. His plea sets up a much larger case that threatens to undermine Christie’s presidential aspirations in 2016.

No, Kirstie Alley is not involved with politically motivated lane closures in New Jersey.

Federal investigators reportedly have begun wiretapping a new set of potential targets as a result of the probe that led to the indictment off former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver.

Rep. Louise Slaughter unveiled her portrait as former House Rules Committee chair. She was the first woman to hold the post back in 2007.

“There is no need for a summit since we already preserve emails and the Governor is free to modify his retention policy,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie’s spokesman Mike Whyland said.

…the Senate Republicans won’t be attending the May 22 summit, either.

Rep. John Katko broke ranks with House Republicans on two votes Thursday night, rejecting his party’s 2016 federal budget and a GOP effort to strike down a reproductive rights law in the District of Coumbia.

Transit advocates are asking Cuomo to “hop out of his muscle car and ride the subway with them to experience the MTA’s needs first-hand.”

The Schoharie County GOP Lincoln Day dinner will feature 2014 AG candidate John Cahill as a guest speaker on May 14.

President Obama will be in New York City Monday. He speak at an event at Lehman College launching the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a new non-profit organization, and will also attend DNC events.

New York City is expected to spend parts of a $447 million settlement it is set to receive from French bank BNP Paribas on initiatives for its criminal justice system.

A new art exhibition in Albany will feature the work of a long-time watercolor artist who specializes in paintings inspired by countrysides and depicted with “rich browns, yellows and golds.” This artist’s day job: SUNY chancellor.

Hillary Clinton is stepping up her race for campaign money, holding three invitation-only events in the nation’s capital Thursday ahead of a fundraising swing next week through California.

Clinton will not be providing a rebuttal at this year’s LCA show.

A Colorado-based energy company is asking New York’s top court to re-hear a case that freed Tioga County landowners from their oil-and-gas leases.

A new report from the NYC Voter Assistance Advisory Committee shows an inverse relationship between advances in technology and the proportion of citizens who get involved in elections.

Six agencies, including four police departments and a probation department, are getting new body armor paid for by funds from the Oneida Nation tax settlement.

At a Brooklyn Democratic Party dinner last night, Cuomo praised Hillary Clinton’s choice to locate her campaign headquarters in the borough, calling Brooklyn “the heart and soul of the Democratic party.”

Senate GOP, Assembly Dems To Skip Email Conference

The majority conferences in the Senate and Assembly are not planning to attend Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s proposed summit on transparency and open government.

Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif confirmed in an email the conference won’t send an emissary to the meeting, scheduled for May 22.

“We will not be attending,” Reif wrote in the email.

Michael Whyland, a spokesman for Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, meanwhile, noted to The Times Union there was no need to attend the meeting given the conference already has an email retention policy.

Updated: Whyland sent this statement over.

“There is no need for a summit since we already preserve emails and the Governor is free to modify his retention policy,” he said.

Cuomo also invited Senate Democrats and the Assembly GOP conference, as well as Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman for the meeting, whose location is yet to be determined.

The meeting was initially announced in March as Cuomo came under criticism for an email retention policy that deletes messages after 90 days unless they are saved.

At the time the meeting was announced, the state Democratic Committee Chairman David Paterson, a Cuomo ally, criticized lawmakers for knocking Cuomo over the email policy and called on them to no longer be exempt from the state’s Freedom of Information Law.

Cuomo And Lopez Meet, Briefly

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and one-time power broker Vito Lopez briefly interacted at a Brooklyn Democratic event on Thursday night.

Cuomo, glad handing the crowd, was spotted by NY1’s camera shaking hands and meeting with Democratic officials.

Off to the side stood Lopez, a former assemblyman who resigned in 2013 following a scathing report that he sexually harassed and abused legislative aides.

Cuomo, doing a double take, steered clear of the toxic former pol and moved on, seemingly without shaking his hand.

The interaction left Lopez staring straight ahead.