May 26th - 5:24 pm
Hours after reaching the number of delegates needed to clinch the Republican nomination for president, Donald Trump thanked North Dakota for putting him “over the top,” and poked fun at Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton for not being able to “close the deal.”
The possibility of appearing to pander is among the reasons Trump would be unlikely to pick a woman or a minority as his vice presidential running mate, his campaign chairman says.
A retired senior State Department military adviser claims Clinton’s “sloppy communications with her senior staff” when she was secretary of state may have compromised at least two counterterrorism operations. Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill called the allegations “patently false.”
NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said that the culture surrounding the “gangsta rap world” creates the atmosphere that led to the fatal shooting at a Manhattan concert hall.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s inquiry into the state Department of Public Service has reportedly broadened in recent days.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio took an unusually personal role in raising money for a nonprofit group backing his political agenda, according to several people who received fundraising appeals from the mayor.
Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton are in a tight race to win next month’s California primary, according to a new poll that shows them in a virtual tie.
Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe, a member of the defunct Moreland Commission, lamented its early demise.
Gary Greenberg, a minority owner of the Vernon Downs racetrack, says he’ll spend $100,000 this year to unseat Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco and other senators who won’t pass a bill to allow child sexual abuse survivors like himself sue their abusers.
Sara Niccoli, Democratic candidate for the 46th Senate District is calling for ethics reforms including a Congressional-style limit on outside income of 15 percent.
U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer called on Holocaust survivors and families of victims who were deported from Nazi-occupied France through the Societé Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais rail company to file restitution claims by the U.S. State Department’s May 31 deadline.
While many large airports suffer from increasingly long lines at security checkpoints, Syracuse has managed to avoid the problem, Hancock Airport’s director told Congress.
The Indian Point 2 nuclear reactor will reopen late next month in time for the summer’s peak energy season after a longer-than-expected shutdown because of deteriorating bolts critical to the plant’s safety.
Legoland is expected to purchase land in Goshen to site its third mega theme park in North America, according to multiple state and local sources.
May 26th - 4:38 pm
The New York State United Teachers union on Thursday endorsed Democratic Assemblyman Keith Wright for Congress in the 13th district in New York City.
Wright, along with 10 other candidates, are vying to replace outgoing Rep. Charlie Rangel in a primary next month.
NYSUT announced its endorsement of Wright in a release that also touted early nods for U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer (who faces Republican Wendy Long) as well as Reps. Jerry Nadler, Carolyn Maloney and Nita Lowey.
“These candidates stood shoulder to shoulder with educators and listened, and then used their voice to speak out strongly for what public schools and colleges – and students – needed,” said NYSUT President Karen Magee. “Now it’s our turn to stand strongly with them and to use NYSUT’s political clout to support their campaigns.”
May 26th - 4:18 pm
An office used by a law firm that had employed lobbyist Todd Howe at the SUNY Polytechnic Institute in Albany was searched on Thursday by investigators from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office amid investigations in economic development projects in New York, according to a source familiar with the investigation.
SUNY Poly confirmed the search in a statement.
“SUNY Poly cooperated fully today with the NYAG’s office request to search an office previously used by Todd Howe at our Albany campus,” SUNY Poly said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate fully with their investigation.“
The raid was first reported by Gannett’s Albany bureau.
The AG’s office has been investigating possible bid rigging at SUNY Poly’s development arm, Fuller Road Management.
Howe is an intersecting figure in the ongoing state and federal investigations into economic development projects, including the signature western New York effort known as the Buffalo Billion.
Howe had represented a number of companies with business before the Buffalo Billion and was listed as a lobbyist for SUNY Poly, which plays a key role in distributing economic development spending.
A former aide and confidant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco, is under scrutiny as well after it was revealed he received payments from two companies with business in economic development projects while running the governor’s re-election campaign.
On Wednesday, the state Public Authorities Control Board approved an additional $485.5 million in spending for a cornerstone Buffalo Billion project at the RiverBend site, home to a SolarCity plant.
Cuomo has retained an independent investigator to review contracting and investigate the program.
May 26th - 3:21 pm
Businessman Martin Babinec, who has launched an independent bid for the 22nd congressional district, released his first TV ad of the campaign on Thursday, with a 30-second commercial highlighting his biography.
“Krista and I are both from upstate New York, we love it here and wanted to raise our three children here,” Babinec said. “But what we accomplished in Silicon Valley – we could have never accomplished here, I’m running for Congress to change that.”
The ad called “Humble Beginnings” will begin airing this evening on network and cable TV.
Babinec is running for the central New York congressional district being vacated by Republican Rep. Richard Hanna.
May 26th - 2:56 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo at an event on Long Island Thursday said closing loopholes in state election law — ranging from the rules governing LLC contributions to independent expenditure committees — remains a top priority for him in the closing days of the legislative session.
“We have loopholes so big you can run a truck through them and they almost negate the impact of the limit to begin with and that’s the LLC loophole, that’s the quote-un-quote independent expenditure committees that are set up but really are just a shadow campaign finance system,” Cuomo said while touring renovations to Jones Beach.
“I think we have a lot of work to do and I’m cautiously optimistic we’re going to get it done.”
Only time is running short to do so. Lawmakers left Albany on Wednesday for the long holiday weekend and won’t return to the Capitol until June 1. There are nine remaining session days lawmakers are scheduled to be in town.
Cuomo this week unveiled eight different bills that are designed to lessen the impact of LLC giving. Currently, donors can give unlimited funds through a network of LLCs — an arrangement Cuomo himself has benefited from in his political campaigns.
“Closing the loopholes is at the top,” Cuomo added. “I think there’s no doubt that ethics reform is one of the priorities.”
Senate Republicans have received the LLC legislation coolly, insisting other areas are ripe for reform, such as boosting penalties for those who violate contribution limits by donating through party committees — part of an investigation into Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s political activities. GOP lawmakers have also pointed to labor unions and their subsidiaries not being impacted by LLC loophole legislation.
More complicated would be to cut off the spigot of independent expenditure committees in the post-Citizens United age of big political spending.
Cuomo has also pushed lawmakers to reach an agreement on pension forfeiture for those convicted of corruption through a constitutional amendment. The GOP-led Senate approved one version of the amendment last year as part of the budget agreement, but Assembly Democrats balked at the proposal. Now, gridlock has set in over the amendment debate and its scope.
The governor stressed the forfeiture measure should be approved.
“I think it adds insults to injury to tell the people of this state that the person who is convicted of abusing the public trust and you’re supposed to pay them a pension,” he said. “That is lunacy, quite frankly.”
May 26th - 1:39 pm
A group of state lawmakers on Thursday announced a push for a bill that would allow all stores participating in the WIC program to accept checks for prescription formula in effort to reverse a 2014 Department of Health policy.
The lawmakers, Sens. Jeff Klein, Adriano Espaillat and Assemblyman Marcos Crespo, announced the legislation along with the release of a report critical of the DOH policy, which mandates WIC recipients only use checks to purchase prescription formula in stores that have pharmacies.
The two-year-old policy wound up cutting off access to available prescription formula in stores nearby for New York City residents.
“The DOH policy change has been a formula for disaster,” Klein said in a statement.
“WIC participants who must buy prescription formula for infants shouldn’t have to travel all over the city to find a store with a pharmacy when a supermarket or small grocer that accepts WIC checks might also shelve this vital product. I will work to make sure that we reverse this policy so our families have access to the nutritional products they need.”
The report released on Thursday found the policy change caused a decline in selection for those receiving WIC checks to find prescription formula for brands such as Enfamil, Ensure or Similac.
Both for the change took effect, there were 1,349 stores where WIC recipients could use their checks to purchase prescription formula in Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Now, there are collectively 149 locations where the formula is available.
The Bronx and Brooklyn were also impacted: In the Bronx, 16 zip codes have no stores where those receiving WIC checks can purchase formula; in Brooklyn there is one zip code where there are no eligible stores to purchase formula.
“Due to DOH’s policy change, there are some zip codes in my district where no stores are eligible to sell specialty formula,” said Espaillat in a statement. “That is simply unacceptable. WIC recipients must have access to the products they need to maintain their children’s health and well-being. Allowing neighborhood grocery stores to sell specialty formula, and ensuring those stores are not burdened with fees associated to reimbursement rejections, will restore much needed access to WIC.”
May 26th - 12:17 pm
The conventional wisdom for Republicans running in down-ballot races this year has been this: Donald Trump, the GOP standard bearer this fall, should be kept at a distance given his inflammatory rhetoric aimed at women, Mexicans and Muslims.
Not so for businessman Andrew Heaney, who is locked in a heated Republican primary battle for the 19th congressional district in the Hudson Valley.
Instead of running away from Trump, he’s embracing him.
Heaney in a TV ad released this week linked himself to Trump, simultaneously attempting to catch some of the populist wave Trump is generating and knocking his GOP opponent, John Faso, a former state Assembly minority leader and lobbyist.
In doing so, Heaney appears to be banking on the establishment being a far more toxic label than being dubbed a Trump Republican.
“John Faso’s friends made the same attacks against Donald Trump,” the ad’s narrator says.
The video then turns to a split screen of Heaney and Trump.
“That’s because Donald Trump and I represent everything that John Faso and his cronies hate,” Heaney says while stadning next to a picture of Trump. “We won’t take special interest money and we can’t be bought.”
The 19th congressional district could be an interesting laboratory for Republicans reckoning with Trump as the presumptive nominee. Trump today receive the needed delegates to clinch the nomination.
The district has been represented for the last three terms by Rep. Chris Gibson, a moderate Republican who had expressed unease with Trump’s candidacy.
At the same time, Gibson was able to successfully win re-election by comfortable margins to a district that voted for President Obama in 2012 (the district was reshaped during that year’s congressional redistricting).
Still, Trump carried virtually every county in the New York Republican presidential primary last month, including those in the 19th congressional district.
And Heaney may have his eye on the general election, too, should Fordham Law School Professor Zephyr Teachout be his opponent. Teachout, a supporter of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’s campaign, faces Livingston Deputy Supervisor Will Yandik in a primary.
Heaney has made the argument he’s better equipped to take on a political outsider like Teachout in an election year in which outsiders have flourished.
May 26th - 11:48 am
The Council of School Supervisors and Administrators on Thursday announced they had endorsed Sen. Adriano Espaillat is in his Democratic primary bid for the 13th congressional district.
“To build a strong foundation for our future, we need a public education system that taps the potential of every child. That’s why I’m honored to have the support of an organization that is so dedicated to making our schools run effectively for all of our students,” Espaillat said in a statement. “As Congressman, I will be in their corner every step of the way to ensure our schools have the resources they need to thrive, and kids from all backgrounds have the support they need to succeed.”
The group is a labor union that represents principals, assistant principals and education administrators.
Espaillat is among the 10 or so candidates vying for the nomination to succeed retiring Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, a longtime fixture in Harlem and New York City politics as well as the House of Representatives itself.
Espaillat’s chief rival for the nomination is likely Assemblyman Keith Wright, a fellow Albany state lawmaker. This is Espaillat’s third bid for the congressional seat, which includes parts of Manhattan and the Bronx.
Given the overwhelming Democratic enrollment in the district, a win in next month’s primary virtually guarantees the seat for the victor.
May 26th - 11:21 am
The Democratic-led Assembly on Wednesday backed a pair of bills that would expand access under the state’s fledgling medical marijuana program.
For the sponsors, including Assembly Health Committee Chairman Richard Gottfried, the measures take the existing system and “bring the law closer to the original bill as passed by the Assembly and supported by patients and their doctors.”
One bill would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to certify patients in the medical marijuana program and prescribe drugs manufactured with cannabis.
“Patients in need should not be denied access to critical medication just because they are treated by a PA or NP,” Gottfriend said.
A second bill passed by the Assembly would create a public list of the 600 or so physicians who are registered to certify patients in the medical marijuana program. Lawmakers say medical marijuana-eligible patients have taken to cold calling doctors in the hopes of finding one who can prescribe the drug.
The medical marijuana program was created after the passage of a 2014 law that provides for a tightly regulated program and limits the number of patients eligible to those with terminal illnesses or severe cognitive issues. Lawmakers have in previously expansion efforts to sought to include more illnesses under the medical marijuana program.
May 26th - 10:42 am
After Republicans in the State Senate blocked a measure Monday to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims, Democratic candidates are latching on to the vote ahead of this year’s election.
Democrats had attempted to tie the amendment to a human trafficking bill from Rochester-area Republican Rich Funke. The Chair ruled that the amendment was not germane to the Funke bill. A vote to overrule failed by three votes, with 29 Democrats lending their support and the entire present majority voting against it. Two Democrats and two Republicans were absent for the vote.
Now opponents of at least three Republicans are using the vote to their advantage. Yesterday, Democrat Ryan Cronin released a statement blasting the vote. Kronin is a Democrat running to replace Long Island Senator Kemp Hannon in the sixth State Senate district.
“Kemp Hannon should be ashamed of himself for voting with his fellow Senate Republicans to block the Child Victims Act,” Cronin said in a statement. “This legislation would bring heinous criminals to justice and provide closure to thousands of New Yorkers who have been preyed upon as children. If Senator Hannon won’t break with his party to stand up for victims of childhood sexual abuse, who will he fight for?”
A spokesperson for Republicans in the State Senate responded to the statement by tying Cronin to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“Ryan Cronin is a retread who already ran for this seat and was rejected by voters. That’s not really a surprise since they know he would partner with Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Democrats to shift school aid to New York City at Long Island’s expense, and raise taxes on hardworking Nassau County families who need and deserve relief.”
Further north in the 46th district, Democrat Sara Niccoli released a similar statement on Tuesday. Niccoli is running against incumbent George Amedore for the seat. The district is considered to be a toss-up after Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk first won the seat when it was drawn in 2012. Amedore defeated Tkaczyk in 2014.
“It’s appalling that George Amedore joined his fellow Senate Republicans in voting down the Child Victims Act,” Niccoli said in a statement. “This bill would deliver justice for innocent victims of child sex abuse and hold perpetrators of horrible crimes accountable. I don’t know how Senator Amedore can justify towing the party line this time around.”
Christoper Eachus, who is running against long-time Senator Bill Larkin in the Hudson Valley, also released a statement Tuesday. More >