Jul 28th - 9:20 am
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick released a lengthy statement on Monday insisting the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption made decisions independent of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office, though he confirmed a top aide to the governor sought input on the panel.
In the same four-page statement released on his office’s letterhead, Fitzpatrick said the commission “was not an independent prosecutorial agency” that couldn’t make arrests or convene grand juries.
The statement comes as Cuomo continues to face questions stemming from his office’s involvement in the commission’s work and the efforts to block subpoenas from the panel to politically sensitive areas for the governor.
Interest in the commission was sparked again last week by an extensive New York Times story that detailed the extent of the role Cuomo’s office, along with that of his top aide, Larry Schwartz, played in shaping the direction of the anti-corruption body.
Fitzpatrick, a co-chair on the commission and a Cuomo appointee, reiterated as he has in previous public statements about his work that the panel was composed of independent-minded prosecutors, law professors and judges.
“We had total investigatory decision making authority and we used it,” Fitzpatrick added.
He acknowledged, too, the role Schwartz played in attempting to have the commission not issue a subpoena to a media-buying firm that counts the governor among its clients.
As the Times revealed last week, Schwartz wrote in an email, “This is not right. Pull it back.”
But Fitzpatrick contends that while Schwartz concerns were initially considered, the subpoena was eventually issued anyway.
“I am not a rigid person,” Fitzpatrick wrote, “and I prefer to absorb as much advice as I can before making major decisions.”
Fitzpatrick called any implication that the commission was compromised because it considered Schwartz’s concerns “absurd” to anyone who knows him.
Nevertheless, Cuomo’s 13-page response to the Times story suggests the commission wasn’t as independent as Fitzpatrick claims or thought.
Cuomo’s office insisted in its response to written questions from the newspaper that the commission needed a guiding hand from Schwartz because of its lack of knowledge of state government.
At the same time, Cuomo, who had previous declared the commission could investigate him or any other statewide elected official, now says the panel’s investigation of his office would not have passed the “laugh test.”
The statement from Fitzpatrick today come as Cuomo is due to appear in Buffalo this morning to make an unrelated economic-development announcement.
The appearance by Cuomo in public is the first the governor has made since The Times story broke last week.
Republican Rob Astorino, meanwhile, will be touring upstate cities with his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, to call on Cuomo to make a public explanation of his office’s role in the commission.
Jul 28th - 7:38 am
Good rainy Monday morning!
As expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be at the University at Buffalo South Campus in Buffalo to make an economic development announcement at 10 a.m.
His Republican rival Rob Astorino, meanwhile, will be embarking on a multi-city tour of upstate to call on Cuomo to answer questions about his involvement in the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.
Astorino at 10 a.m. will be in Utica, 321 Main St., Boehlert Transportation Center.
At 10:30 a.m., Senate hopeful Adam Haber will be endorsed NARAL Pro-Choice New York at the Great Neck Chamber of Commerce, 1 Middle Neck Rd., in Great Neck.
At 11:30: The Suffolk County GOP will hold its gold invitational, Baiting Hollow Golf Club, 100 Club Drive, Baiting Hallow.
At noon, Astorino and his running mate Chris Moss will be in Syracuse at the Onondaga County GOP headquarters, 321 W. Onondaga St., Syracuse.
Also at noon, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan will hold a news conference to announce details of a city-wide food drive plan. Albany City Hall, 24 Eagle St. in Albany.
At 12:30, Reps. Grace Meng, Eliot Engel and Hakeem Jeffires will hold a news conference with Jewish leaders backing Israel’s rights of self defense, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, 1st Ave. and 47th St., Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Comptroller Scott Stringer will speak at another rally for Israel, backed by the JCRC-NY, ag Hammarskjold Plaza, 47th St. and 2nd Ave., Manhattan.
At 1:45 p.m., Astorino and Moss will appear at the Monroe County Republican headquarters, 300 State St., Rochester.
At 3:45, Astorino and Moss will appear at the Erie County Republican headquarters, 715 Main St., Suit 102, Buffalo.
At 6 p.m., Downtown Independent Democrats will endorse Zephyr Teachout’s campaign for governor at 10 Bleecker St., Apt. 6-C, Manhattan.
Insiders say the Moreland Commission controversy “paralyzed” Gov. Cuomo and hobbled his chances of running for president one day.
Commission members are scoffing at the idea of internal dysfunction and blame it on Cuomo, while the scandal has been a boon for Astorino’s fundraising.
Even before the Moreland Commission report popped in the Times, Cuomo’s support among voters was softening.
Legal experts say it’s highly unlikely any charges will be brought against Cuomo himself.
Gov. Cuomo is set to endorse Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein today.
More trouble for Sen. John Sampson: He’s being accused of questionable campaign finance practices in his re-election bid.
A woman on ex-Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak’s payroll was never seen at the scandal-scarred former lawmaker’s office.
Jul 27th - 6:46 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be in Buffalo Monday to make an economic development announcement, his first public appearance since The NYT’s Moreland Commission report.
The TU editorial board writes that every broken promise from the governor has been meant to further his power.
Five companies will be located at Binghamton University under the tax-free START-UP NY program, creating 83 jobs.
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is fundraising for Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Kathy Hochul.
Republican congressional hopeful Jim Fischer says Democratic incumbent Paul Tonko has “had his chance” and compared his campaign to uphill climb facing Rob Astorino.
“Niche” issues are becoming ballot lines this fall, with both Republicans and Democrats hoping they can move votes.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer wants anti-missile defenses on planes following the downing of a Malaysian airliner.
Drivers’ license plate numbers are being photographed and stored long term by at least nine counties.
Democratic gubernatorial hopeful Zephyr Teachout wants a $10 billion expansion of the stock transfer tax as well as an end to corporate political contributions.
Starting today, The New York Times is beginning a six-part editorial series backing the legalization of marijuana.
Police Commissioner William Bratton expects there will be a federal probe of Eric Garner’s death.
Mayor de Blasio and family are returning from their trip to Italy and will spend their first night in Gracie Mansion.
The closing of Mt. McGregor Correctional Facility in Wilton was not without a bit of drama.
General Electric Co. is leaving Fort Edward, a community it helped to be a once thriving industrial village in upstate New York.
A federal judge in Syracuse ruled Washington’s D.C.’s ban on handguns is unconstitutional.
The New York Racing Association has hired a “chief experience officer” for year’s meet.
BuzzFeed fired an editor for plagiarism.
To the delight of Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson, Spider-Man was arrested.
Jul 25th - 5:45 pm
NY Mag’s Chris Smith notes Gov. Cuomo could have saved himself a big headache if he’d just admitted all along the Moreland Commission was about leverage.
Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen Odell used his public office to send out a news release for a political endorsement.
State and city officials are urging the federal government to grant temporary status to migrant Central American children.
Meanwhile, a State Island lawmaker objects to bringing any of the children at the border into New York City.
Former City Council Speaker Christine Quinn is calling on Republican AG candidate John Cahill to return a donation from an opponent of same-sex marriage.
Rep. Paul Tonko apologized for speeding after he was caught doing so on camera.
Gov. Cuomo approved new wheelchair accessibility signs.
Democratic Senate candidate Brian Howard is taking his time setting up a campaign committee.
A travel writer for The Washington Post says there’s a “new vitality” in Buffalo.
The de Blasio administration is setting up a task force to lower fines levied to small businesses.
UFT President Michael Mulgrew says his union’s $350,000 to de Blasio’s nonprofit came without any strings attached.
Here’s a ragtag group of college kids — with anger issues, apparently — who just happen to be organically concerned with Zephyr Teachout’s residency issues.
The residency issue is one the Cuomo campaign is challenging, but Teachout says she qualifies to run.
Republican allies of Sen. Jack Martins filed a complaint against Democratic candidate Adam Haber’s campaign contributions.
Matt Doheny’s decision to drop out of the NY-21 is seen as a boost for Republicans in recapturing the seat.
Jul 25th - 4:05 pm
The campaign of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino spent the day — with some relish — prodding Gov. Andrew Cuomo into making a public appearance to discuss The New York Times story detailing his involvement in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.
A sarcasm-laden statement from Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud expressed faux concern for the governor’s whereabouts.
“Is anyone else concerned that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has gone missing for the past three days? Has an All Points Bulletin (APB) been issued? The governor’s whereabouts have been unknown since…well…since that blockbuster, A1 New York Times story came out on Tuesday about interference with a New York anti-corruption commission,” she said. “It’s an unusual thing, a governor going missing for three days. Isn’t it? Should someone be alerted?”
Astorino himself has been pretty busy, appearing both on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes — a liberal antagonist of the governor’s — as well as Fox and Friends this morning.
Cuomo’s public schedule has him in New York City today, with nothing public planned.
There has been a noticeable uptick in the number of news releases sent out by the governor’s office since Wednesday, the day the Times’ story was published.
Cuomo today signed measure that would approve a new symbol to denote wheelchair accessibility, and he dispatched forest rangers to help fight brush fires in Oregon.
A chart released by NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney shows news releases from Cuomo’s office in the Wednesday through Friday period are at one of the highest rates of the year — at least 22 since the early afternoon.
Jul 25th - 12:33 pm
Matt Doheny formally endorsed on Friday his one-time Republican opponent in the 21st congressional district, Elise Stefanik.
In doing so, Doheny declared that he’s “not Doug Hoffman” — the Conservative Party candidate in 2011 and 2012 who remained in the race, and may have helped tilt the balance in favor of Democratic Rep. Bill Owens.
Doheny retains the Independence Party line this fall, but his endorsement of Stefanik today is an indication he won’t campaign actively for the seat that’s been vacating by the retiring Owens at the end of the year.
“I want to thank Matt Doheny for his support,” Stefnik said. “Matt waged a hard fought primary and we respect and appreciate his decision to give Republicans their best opportunity to win back our seat for the North Country. Now is the time to unite not just Republicans, but members of the Independence Party and Democrats interested in bringing new ideas and a new generation of leadership to Washington on behalf of New York’s 21st Congressional District.”
Republicans have long eyed taking the North Country congressional district back from Democratic hands after President Obama tapped GOP Rep. John McHugh to became secretary of the Army.
The decision by Doheny to support Stefanik was praised by National Republican Campaign Chairman Greg Walden.
“Throughout his career, Matt Doheny has always done what is best for the North Country,” Walden said. “Today he continued to do so by helping to ensure that Republican Elise Stefanik will be able to fight for North Country families in Congress. I applaud Matt for making this tough decision and wish him, his wife Mary and their son Declan all the best in their future endeavors.”
Democrat Aaron Wolf and Green Party candidate Matt Funiciello are also seeking the seat.
Jul 25th - 12:14 pm
The Daily Show’s Jon Stewart last night skewered the controversy over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s involvement in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption, pointing to the governor’s contradictory comments about the panel and responding, “You know that’s f— ridiculous, right?”
“You know the I-made-it, I-can-do-what-I-want-with-it excuse only works for George Lucas, right?”” he added.
Stewart’s bit also highlighted how Cuomo campaign as governor on an effort to clean up corruption in Albany, but mocked his office’s efforts to steer subpoenas from the anti-corruption commission away from politically sensitive areas.
“It turns out Gov. Cuomo may be like the boss at work that says, ‘Yeah, no, we’ll play hoops at lunch. You can go hard.’ And then when Jimmy from accounting blocks his shot and drives the lane, he’s like, ‘Hey, you’re not allowed to touch the ball because I started the game,’” Stewart joked.
Also, watch for a brief cameo — at least vocally — from our NY1 colleague, Zack Fink.
Jul 25th - 11:29 am
When Christie made his remarks about Astorino in Connecticut Monday, the reaction from the Astorino Camp was measured. Through back channels, they reached out to Christie and his people. Their message was simple: “Ok, what’s done is done. Now please fix it.” The response from Camp Christie was, in essence, ready for this…”no.”
Stunning in its arrogance, surprising in it’s defiance. The man who’s job it is to promote Republican candidates for Governor seems to have an inflated sense of his own job security. This is the same guy who caused a minor rebellion on the right when he literally embraced Obama at the height of the 2012 campaign for President, sending a message that “this man Obama has your back.” By now, Christie’s comments have been well reported. And the meeting In Aspen between Astorino and Christie after the fact apparently did not go very well.
Coupla points to draw out on this…first, it’s cosmic timing that Christie, as the head of the RGA, would call Astorino’s candidacy a “lost cause” just two days before the New York Times bombshell about Cuomo and interference with the Moreland Commission. If there was ever a time for Republicans to lend a hand to the Republican candidate in New York, it was this week. Then there is the issue of how the RGA actually distributes its resources in the various races across the country. Christie said “We don’t invest in landslides,” which may be true, except for his own. The RGA spent roughly $1.7 Million on Christie’s “landslide” against Barbara Buono in 2013. A race he more than likely would have won without that money ( he utimately defeated Buono by 22 points ).
Then there are those other races. Last month, Christie campaigned in New Hampshire for gubernatorial candidate Walt Havenstein, who was down 26 points in the last poll. He has also campaigned ( as one could argue the head of the RGA should ) for Neel Kashkari in California who is down 20. In addition, sources say the RGA is spending more than half a million dollars on ads in New Mexico, even though Republican Governor Susana Martinez is solidly ahead, and more than $800,000 in Iowa where Terry Branstad is up by 15. Going back to 2010, the RGA spent roughly $9 million in Michigan when polls showed Governor Rick Snyder way up. And another $7 million in Massachusetts, even though anyone from Massachusetts would tell you it was unlikely Deval Patrick would lose.
So, like everything, it is a question of resources and spending those dollars wisely. Contrary to the narrative Christie has crafted, he was not ever really an underdog in 2009 against incumbent Jon Corzine in New Jersey. A poll in February of that year showed Christie ahead. The economy in New Jersey had just tanked. The local business community wanted a change, so they came together and pooled resources by funneling money into the RGA in order to elect Christie. No question it was a major victory, but it wasn’t really a Little-engine-that-could scenario either.
Finally, there is the Cuomo-Christie connection. Astorino raised this on Tuesday, suggesting Cuomo may have helped Christie keep a lid on the Bridgegate scandal by remaining quiet and even claiming he knew nothing about it weeks after his handpicked Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye indentified the lane closures on the Fort Lee side of the GWB as a possible violation of law. There are other connections between the two neighboring Governors as well. One of Christie’s top political strategists Mike DuHaime is an Partner at Mercury public affairs. Mike McKeon is also an Partner at Mercury, where he once headed up “Republicans for Cuomo” in 2010. McKeon also helped spearhead a “conversation” with Republicans for Governor Cuomo at the Harvard Club earlier this year.
So, the two Governors, who are known to talk frequently on the phone, do have some connections. After being snubbed by Christie in such a heavy-handed and mean-spirited way, it stands to reason that Astorino will no longer be reluctant to point those out going forward.
Jul 25th - 9:27 am
From the morning memo:
It’s probably too early to determine whether the ongoing controversy surrounding the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption will be a scandal of Spitzer-esque proportions.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino certainly hopes that will be the case.
Astorino has been quick to capitalize on the latest revelations this week reported extensively in The New York Times and elsewhere that Cuomo and his office meddled in the anti-corruption panel and the direction of its subpoenas.
Indeed, for a week that began with Cuomo holding a 37-percentage point advantage in the poll as well as $33 million more in campaign money, the swing at the outset seems dramatically to be in Astorino’s favor, who is calling the story a “game changer.”
Cuomo is yet to make any public appearances this week to address the matter — a fact Republicans are pushing with gusto.
But consider a few things:
1. The same Siena College poll taken before the Times published its story showed most voters list jobs, taxes and education as top concerns for them in this election season. Corruption came in at 1 percent. For any of this to matter, voters are going to have to care that Cuomo and his top aide pressured state lawmakers into passing a compromised ethics package through the use of an otherwise esoteric lever of power at the governor’s disposal. The story dropped in the middle of the summer, right as voters head to the beach or go on vacation. Parsing through stories about political heavy handedness is one insiders tend to eat up. But it’s also not easily translatable to, say, a governor soliciting high-end prostitutes or aides closing down bridge lanes to exact a measure of political revenge.
2. We don’t know — yet — if any laws were broken. All of this could change as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office digs into Cuomo’s handling of the commission. For now, the question remains whether Cuomo’s office illegal abused power after commission members made deputy attorneys general. If no laws were broken, there’s a lot of smoke, but not necessarily any fire.
3. Through all of this, Cuomo still maintains nearly all of the advantages of being a Democrat in a Democratic state. He has $35 million in the bank. He has higher name recognition than Astorino. He has all the trappings afforded to an incumbent. Astorino, meanwhile, has bounced from media appearance to media appearance, ranging from Fox and Friends (hello, Republicans!) to MSNBC (hello, Democrats!), but is still likely be heavily outspent by Cuomo and the state Democratic Committee.
That being said, here are three reasons why all of this could matter:
1. Let’s give voters some credit! The saga could very well count against Cuomo as more than just a black-eye, but as Josh Benson wrote in Capital, an administration-defining moment for a governor who is known by insiders to twist arms in order to get what he wants. Yes, The Daily News’ Ken Lovett reported a broad swath of the blocking of the Moreland subpoenas last year. But splashing the dirty laundry of the Moreland Commission all over A1 of the Times and in such depth is the first exposure many casual observers will get to Cuomo’s way of using power.
2. Even no indictments are made, having an ambitious and dogged U.S. attorney look into the Moreland mess is not a good thing for Cuomo, who relished his role as a corruption-buster as attorney general for four years. A drip-drip-drip of subpoenas and grand jury testimonies or interviews will keep Astorino, Democratic hopeful Zephyr Teachout and reporters busy through the summer.
3. If the odds hold and Cuomo is re-elected, he will likely face a vastly altered landscape in Albany come 2015. Republicans — including lawmakers he’s very closely with in the state Senate — may be out of power. An emboldened Democratic majority that has much to owe to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio could be in place, and the moderate governor may have to alter his calculations when it comes to what he can get accomplished in term two. Lawmakers in Albany have an increasingly short end of the stick when it comes to leverage and budget-making in recent years. The Moreland Commission morass could be the first, tangible diminution of power for Cuomo at the Capitol.
Jul 25th - 7:34 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City, with nothing public planned.
At 8:05 a.m., Republican AG hopeful John Cahill will be a guest on Long Island News Jay Oliver, WCRN103.9 FM.
Later, at 8:45, Cahill will be a guest on Good Morning Westchster with John Marino, WVOX 1460AM.
And at 10 a.m., he’ll be on Live From The State Capitol with Fred Dicker.
At 8:30 a.m., Virginia Fields of the National Black Leadership Commission on AIDS will moderate a forum on hepatitis C and the black community, Second Annual National African American Hepatitis C Action Day, Alhambra Ballroom, 2116 Adam Clayton Powell Blvd., Manhattan.
At 10 a.m., Assemblywoman Nily Rozic and Sen. Toby Stavisky will appear with Councilman Peter Koo to push for a review of city planning, 146-21 56th Road in Queens.
Also at 10 a.m., Public Advocate Tish James will hold a rally and news conference with advocates against sexual violence. The group and James want the MTA and the NYPD to have greater accountability for sex crime on mass transit. City Hall Subway Station, Centre St. and Park Row Entrance, Manhattan.
At 11 a.m., Independence Party candidate for Congress Matt Doheny makes an announcement, 215 Washington Street, Watertown.
Also at 11 a.m., Sen. Adriano Espaillat and Councilman Ydanis Rodriguez will call for humanitarian solutions to the immigration crisis, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
The death of Eric Garner is putting law enforcement’s decision to make arrests for minor offenses under scrutiny.
An audit by New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer found the New York City Housing Authority failed to meet hiring goals.
In testimony at his corruption trial, former New York City Councilman Dan Halloran insisted he did nothing illegal, but said it’s “regrettable” how politics works.
With the troubles surrounding the Moreland Commission not going away, Cuomo faces a rare situation that he can’t control, Blake Zeff writes.
The commission was poised to issue subpoenas to the treasurers of state Senate campaign committees before it was shutdown.
The New York Post says Gov. Chris Christie moved “within days” quickly to address the Bridgegate scandal, while Gov. Cuomo has not.
The sole Democrat who represents the North Country in Albany called the governor’s involvement in the Moreland Commission “troubling.”
The deputizing of the commission’s members as deputy attorneys general could be problematic for Cuomo.
Despite efforts from Rob Astorino to capitalize on Cuomo’s Moreland missteps, it’s unlikely the controversy will sway voters.
Cuomo’s office asserted the Moreland Commission was a “pure creature of the executive” and never intended to replicated previous anti-corruption panels like the one led by John Feerick.
The Daily News’ editorial board questions the $16 million in state incentives for “The Late Show” to stay in New York.
A Cuomo-created panel to study regulations for tipped workers will issue a report in February.
Casino interests are making rosy claims about job creation — even higher than what the state estimates.
A measure approved this year make take the prosecution of crimes at Rikers out of the Bronx DA’s hands.
A group led by rocker (and Cuomo friend) Jon Bon Jovi interested in buying the Buffalo Bills says it won’t move the team to Ontario.
So-called “patent trolls” are targeting upstate grocery chain Wegmans.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and family received a warm welcome from residents of his ancestral village in Italy.
The Wall Street Journal reports that de Blasio and family are “eating their way through Italy.”
Grants for longer school days may be turned down by some districts because they don’t have the time to plan for a longer school day.
Meghan McCain will not become a member of “The View” this season.
Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner encountered both cheers and “virulent anger” when addressing her support for opening the city to migrant children.
House Speaker John Boehner, meanwhile, is trying to line up his GOP colleagues to agree on a solution for the crisis at the border.
The Times Union editorial board compares the rush to pass the SAFE Act in New York versus a more deliberative process in Massachusetts.
Former Sen. Joe Lieberman has taken on a chair at Yeshiva University named for… Joe Lieberman.
Comptroller Tom DiNapoli warned the city of Glens Falls’ finances are facing potential stress.
Bad news for fans of Utica Club draft.