Brady Campaign Endorses Cuomo

The gun control group The Brady Campaign on Saturday announced its endorsement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election to a third term.

Cuomo has made gun control a signature issue during his time in office. In 2013, Cuomo won the passage of the SAFE Act, approved in the wake of an elementary school shooting in Connecticut.

The bill inflamed gun rights supporters in the state, especially in the upstate region, costing Cuomo support there in the process.

This year, state lawmakers and Cuomo agreed to a measure that tightens restrictions on gun possession for those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence.

“The Brady Campaign is proud to endorse Governor Cuomo — a national champion in the fight for gun safety — for re-election. When it comes to the issue of gun safety, you are literally talking about life and death, and at a time when Washington is kowtowing to the NRA, this nation needs proven and experienced leaders like Andrew Cuomo,” the group said.

“The work Governor Cuomo has done to reduce gun related deaths in New York is a model the rest of the nation should follow. Governor Cuomo has led the nation in the fight for gun control — not with words, but with actions.”

In recent weeks, Cuomo has pushed Republicans in the state Senate to take up an bill restricting access to guns for people who deemed to be a danger to themselves or others and has aired ads on the issue.

“While the NRA maintains control over ultra-conservative Republicans in Washington, New York refuses to stand idly by,” Cuomo said.

“In 2013, New York passed the toughest and smartest gun laws in the nation and we did what Washington is still trying to do five years later. Enough is enough. This isn’t about politics it’s about people.”

USA Today Drops Columnist For Heated Twitter Exchange With WNY Political Operative

USA Today has dropped one of its political columnists after she authored a controversial social media post about a Western New York political operative’s children. The paper announced Friday Cheri Jacobus’ work would no longer be published following a heated Twitter exchange with former Trump campaign volunteer Michal Caputo.

The tweet, which still hasn’t been deleted, asked if Caputo’s daughters are ugly or whether they would be shared sexually at parties hosted by Jeffrey Epstein. Epstein, an associate of former President Bill Clinton, was a former financier and was found guilty ten years ago for soliciting sex from an underage girl.

Jacobus’ attack seemed to be the exclamation point on heated thread that included Caputo calling the columnist bitter, childless and alone. Jacobus, a boisterous critic of President Trump, referred to Caputo as a traitor and said he’d end up in jail for lying under oath.

“Cheri Jacobus is clearly mentally ill and she will hopefully get help,” Caputo said when reached by phone Friday evening.

In addition to testifying in front of a congressional committee, Caputo was deposed in May by Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s team.  Mueller was appointed to investigate alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 Presidential election. Caputo worked in Russia in the 1990’s for a media company later hired by Russian President Vladimir Putin.  

Caputo has repeatedly called the Russia collusion investigation bogus and has mounted a spirited defense which included an online fundraiser for his legal defense.  He’s also become a regular critic of the Mueller investigation on Fox News.  

Caputo’s ire isn’t limited to Jacobus, he also blamed Erie County’s Executive and the Chair of the Erie County Democratic Party.

“Mark Poloncarz and Jeremy Zellner are still paying WNYmedia to promote sexualized attacks on my family and they need to stop. Politics is a tough game but families have always been off limits. Unless Poloncarz and Zellner want that to change – for them too,” Caputo added.  

Zellner told WBEN radio Friday Caputo’s charges were baseless and didn’t warrant a response.

 

Williams To Return Contributions ‘Accepted in Error’

A campaign finance report made public Thursday on behalf of Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams included three donations that exceeded the $5,000 limit for corporate contributions.

Aside from surpassing that limit, $35,000 worth of donations may have originated from same source, which is also not allowed under state elections law. If he is forced to return the funds, Williams will deplete his campaign’s bank account and cripple his spending capability.

Responding to questions via email about whether these contributions would be returned if deemed to be accepted incorrectly, the campaign spokesman, William Gerlich, said:

“In the past filing period, our campaign received contributions which we now realize were accepted in error. On recognizing this, we will be returning these donations.”

He did not specify which contributions in particular will be returned.

The promised refunds come as the campaign of Williams’ opponent, LG Kathy Hochul, threw down the gauntlet this week, issuing four days worth of queries about the whereabouts of his disclosure report.

A submission mix-up on the Williams campaign end, attributed to technical difficulties, initially stalled the report’s release for three days. But once it was made public, red flags were immediately raised.

In a statement Thursday evening, the Hochul campaign called on the State Board of Elections to investigate Williams’ finances, claiming his disclosure report “shows thousands of illegal corporate donations in excess of state limits.”

Hochul’s campaign says Williams should comply with BOE law and return the $35,000.

“New Yorkers deserve better than the disappointing and troubling actions from the Williams’ campaign. We demand he refund the $35,000 immediately in accordance with the law.”

The campaign issued a follow up plea just before 5 p.m. today:

DAY 4, HOCHUL CAMPAIGN JOINS NY VOTERS IN CALLING FOR COUNCILMAN WILLIAMS TO RETURN ILLEGAL CORPORATE CONTRIBUTIONS

On April 12, 2018, Councilman Williams illegally accepted $50,000+ from multiple corporations all leading back to one person who receives multiple city contracts in his district. Apparently the Councilman does not feel the rules apply to him.

Not only did his campaign file 3 days late, they also blatantly ignored campaign finance laws that attempt to limit corporate influence because clearly that’s not a priority for him. Councilman Williams, let voters know when you’ve finally refunded the $35,000 in accordance with the law. New Yorkers deserve better from their leaders.”

The Williams campaign emailed several minutes prior to the release, stating in the quote at the beginning of this blog post their intention to refund contributions.

Hochul reported raising $1.2 million over the past six months, and has $1.24 total cash on hand.

Over 70 percent of her donations hail from individual donors, according to the LG’s campaign, and over 60 percent of those individual donors wrote checks for $500 or less.

Extras

President Trump’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, secretly recorded a conversation with Trump two months before the presidential election in which they discussed payments to a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump, according to lawyers and others familiar with the recording.

Stormy Daniels attorney Michael Avenatti said Cohen actually has not just one, but several audio recordings of the president discussing women who have come forward after allegedly having affairs with him.

Kristin Davis, the Manhattan Madam who went to prison and was connected to former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, is being subpoenaed in the Robert Mueller investigation.

Davis worked for GOP consultant and Trump aide Roger Stone for about a decade, and he’s reportedly the godfather of her two-year-old son. The Davis-Stone connection also includes Stone associate Andrew Miller, who ran Davis’ failed campaign for New York governor in 2010.

The Trump administration said it has reunited just 264 of the more than 2,500 children ages 5 and older who have been separated from their families at the border.

SUNY Upstate Medical University is not disclosing a former top official’s travel and expense records because it says publicly releasing them could interfere with a law enforcement investigation.

AG Barbara Underwood, leading a bipartisan coalition of 9 attorneys general, filed comments urging the FDA to ban flavored tobacco products, which have been repeatedly shown to lead middle and high school students to begin tobacco use at a young age.

Republican state Senate candidate Tom Basile secured the Independence Party line in his bid to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Bill Larkin.

New York Times White House correspondent Maggie Haberman explains why she has stepped away from Twitter.

“Twitter is now an anger video game for many users,” Haberman said. “It is the only platform on which people feel free to say things they’d never say to someone’s face.”

State Senate candidate Jasmine Robinson has filed a court petition pleading to be tossed off the Sept. 13 Democratic primary ballot against state Sen. Diane Savino because the nominating petitions she herself submitted are riddled with fraud.

Upstate ratepayers will pick up more than half the multi-billion-dollar tab for a massive offshore wind turbine project that will provide very costly power for Long Island and New York City.

Verizon has reached a tentative four-year contract extension with unions representing approximately 34,000 workers.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a Fox News host and longtime network personality, plans to leave her role at the cable news channel to join Donald Trump Jr., who she is dating, on the campaign trail for the 2018 midterm elections.

Fox News confirmed Guilfoyle’s departure after more than a decade with the network. She did not appear on “The Five” today to say farewell.

Robin Wilt remains a candidate for the state Assembly seat being vacated by Congressional candidate Joe Morelle, as the local Board of Elections ruled that questions about whether she met residency requirements to run for the office fell outside its purview.

The fast-spreading rumor inside the Daily News is that Jim Rich is out as editor, bringing to an end his short-lived return engagement at the troubled tabloid as staff-chopping is set to get underway.

Linda Stasi: “As much as I like Pirro, what I can’t stand is that she has this thing about pointing her finger at other women like she did to Whoopi on ‘The View’ Thursday. She probably does it to men, too, but I haven’t noticed ever since she did it to me and I went blind with rage. And it wasn’t pretty.”

A New Eastcoast Arms Collectors Association gun show will not happen at the Schenectady Armory Center, according to facility co-owner Ray Legere.

Miner: Rethink Tipped Wage Plan (Updated)

Ending the current tipped wage system for restaurant workers needs to be rethought, gubernatorial candidate Stephanie Miner’s campaign said Friday in a statement.

The statement comes as a wage board at the state Department of Labor is considering an end to the tipped wage, bringing restaurant workers to the current minimum wage in New York, currently $13 in New York City, $11 in metropolitan counties and $10.40 in upstate counties.

But restaurant owners and business entities have pushed back on that proposal, calling it unfair to restaurant workers and a disincentive for customers to tip. Providing a gratuity for service would not be outlawed by the wage board.

“One size does not fit all, especially when it comes to the issue of wage equality,” Miner said. “I would strongly recommend to the State Labor Department’s wage board that they defer any action on their plan to end the wage tip system currently in place. More study needs to be done, and I think the legislature should also have a say in the matter. Such important policy changes, which affect hundreds of thousands of people’s incomes, should not be resolved by executive edict.”

Miner is a former Syracuse mayor and ex-Democratic Committee chair who is running an independent bid for governor on the Serve America Movement ballot line.

Miner pointed to the regional differences in the need to keep the tipped wage and is concerned smaller restaurants upstate could be hurt.

“What might work in New York City does not always work in New Rochelle, Newbergh or Niagara Falls,” shje said. “Many Upstate small business owners, whose profit margins are very thin, have objected to changing the wage/tip credit system, as it would result in many restaurant closings, and/or a wholesale change in the dining experience, and how meals are delivered. High-end New York City restaurants are very different from many struggling upstate eateries. Many tip wage workers, including servers and bartenders, have also spoken out strongly against the proposed rule changes, saying it would devastate their income stream. As the old saying goes, if it’s not broke, why fix it?”

Updated: RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum weighed in on Miner’s comments.

“I strongly disagree with Ms. Miner on this issue, particularly with her comment that ‘if it’s not broke, why fix it?'” he said.

“The truth is that the tipped credit system is completely broken and that it fuels wage theft, economic insecurity, confusion and, in the hospitality industry, sexual harassment. These regulations that allow owners to pay their tipped workers a subminimum wage unfairly creates two tiers of workers. When Gov. Cuomo directed the Department of Labor to hold hearings on this matter, he called it an issue of basic fairness. We agree. All workers should make at least the minimum wage, and we believe the DOL has collected an overwhelming amount of testimony that has shown the unfairness of the system and the need for one fair wage for all.”

In First Ads, Brindisi Touts Independence, Says He Won’t Back Pelosi

Democratic congressional candidate Anthony Brindisi on Friday released the first two TV ads of his campaign touting both his independence and efforts to bring jobs to the Mohawk Valley region.

In one of the ads, Brindisi re-affirms his pledge to not support Rep. Nancy Pelosi for another term as the Democratic leader. In another, Brindisi’s children get a starring role, who say that he worked with both Democrats and Republicans for job-creation efforts.

The ads touch on some basic themes: Jobs for upstate New York in the 22nd congressional district and a distancing by Brindisi from Albany, where he has served as a state Assembly member.

“I’ve never been afraid to take on my own party when I think they’re wrong and I reach across the aisle to bring Democrats and Republicans together to actually get things done,” Brindisi says. “I think it’s time for new leadership on both sides of the aisle in Washington and that’s why I won’t support Nancy Pelosi.”

Brindisi is running against first-term Republican Claudia Tenney in the 22nd congressional district, which stretches from the Mohawk Valley to the Southern Tier region.

The race is considered one of several battleground House districts in upstate New York.

‘Mario Treated Joe Like A Son’

Count Westchester County radio station owner William O’Shaughnessy among those who want leniency for Joe Percoco, the former close aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo who is due to be sentenced next month following his corruption conviction.

O’Shaughnessy, the owner of WVOX radio station in New Rochelle, has been close with the Cuomo family, including the governor’s late father, Mario Cuomo.

In a letter to U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni, O’Shaughnessy wrote “Mario treat Joe like a son… and Joe treated him like a father.”

“It would, I’m sure, break Mario’s heart to observe the predicament Joe now finds himself in as a result of the mistakes he’s made,” he wrote. “I’m not at all going to presume to speak for Mario … but after many hundreds of late night and early morning phone calls with this great man … I have no doubt he would also now beg Your Honor for leniency, forbearance and understanding for Mr. Percoco.”

O’Shaughnessy is among the litany of New York political figures from the Cuomo orbit who have written to Caproni urging leniency for Percoco, who was found guilty of bribery and fraud earlier this year.

The letter echoes a sentiment the younger Cuomo wrote of Percoco in his 2014 memoir, described him as my father’s “third son.”

Percoco was a longtime aide to the current governor and worked on Mario Cuomo’s campaign, rising to the role of all-purpose fix-it man, campaign manager and advance guy.

“I truly believe Percoco, despite perhaps some ‘rough’ edges, is not at all a bad guy,” O’Shaughnessy wrote. “Despite being possessed of not a little bit of ‘swagger’ and the occasional abruptness which sometimes accompanies Mr. Percoco, I firmly believe that, at his core, and in his heart of hearts, Joe is actually a very decent human being.”

Gibson Takes Teachout Campaign To Task For Misspelling

New York City Councilwoman Vanessa Gibson in an “open letter” on Friday took the campaign of Democratic attorney general candidate Zephyr Teachout to task for misspelling the first name of primary rival and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James in press releases.

Gibson in the letter alleged the errors were due, in part, to a pattern of disrespect toward people of color when they run for office.

“As an African American Member of the New York City Council, I find it offensive, and insulting, that given Letitia James’ decades-long career in public office, including being the first and only African American woman ever to be elected to New York City-wide office, you continue to misspell her name in your press releases,” Gibson wrote in the letter.

“This is not an uncommon pattern by politicians to dismiss qualified and experienced candidates from communities of color, particularly women of color, by denying both their past public achievements and their identity.”

Teachout spokeswoman Cristina Gonzalez in a statement took responsibility for the error.

“This would just be my own comment, as I was the one who made the error,” she said. “I do agree with CM Gibson that the misspelling of the names of people of color is something that happens with great frequency, and can signal a level of dismissiveness. However, sometimes you’re just a tired press secretary that didn’t catch a typo. As someone whose name is frequently misspelled, I am generally diligent in not doing the same to others. I will be sure to be more judicious in the future, and not commit the same error.”

Teachout and James are competing for the Democratic nomination alongside Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and Leecia Eve.

NY-24: Gillibrand Endorses Balter

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday endorses Democratic congressional candidate Dana Balter in the 24th congressional district in central New York.

Balter is running for the seat held by two-term Rep. John Katko in what has been historically a battleground seat for the last several election cycles.

“I support Dana Balter for Congress because central and western New York need a representative who will show up, listen, and stand up for health care, women’s rights, and working families,” Gillibrand said in a statement.

“They need a representative who will provide a check on Donald Trump and his administration. Dana has shown her dedication by earning support across the district, and I’m proud to endorse her.” Balter, who won her June primary by 25 points, will take on Congressman John Katko in November. “I’m proud to have the support of Senator Gillibrand,” Balter said. “Her work on behalf of central and western New York – and all the people of our state – is a model for the kind of representative I want to be. Congressman Katko has voted with Donald Trump 90% of time time – I want to join people like Senator Gillibrand in Congress to stand up for the people we are elected to serve, not the Washington insiders.”

Balter defeated Juanita Perez Williams in a Democratic primary last month.

Gillibrand is running for re-election this year, facing Republican Chele Farley.

Eve Agrees To AG Debate

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic attorney general candidate Leecia Eve Thursday agreed to participate in televised debates with her fellow candidates in the primary race.

Eve’s backing of debates comes after Zephyr Teachout also called for a series of televised debates held around the state.

Eve and Teachout, along with Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney and New York City Public Advocate Letitia James are vying for the nomination for attorney general in a four-way race.

“Leecia Eve’s experience in New York courtrooms may be unmatched, but that shouldn’t dissuade the other candidates from joining her for a series of broadcast debates,” said Eve campaign spokeswoman Maggie McKeon. “At a time when the values we cherish as New Yorkers are under assault by Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress, voters deserve to know where candidates stand. Leecia looks forward to debating Zephyr Teachout and any other candidates willing to debate the important issues facing New York State.”

Teachout hailed the statement, writing on Twitter that “voters deserve broadcast debates, and soon, to learn about the candidates for such a critical office.”

“Thanks Leecia, and thanks for being clear that you are ready to go on camera everywhere in the state to talk priorities and differences,” she wrote.

The AG’s office became an open race this May after the resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman amid domestic violence allegations.

Barbara Underwood, appointed attorney general by the Legislature, is not running for a full term.