McMurray Responds To Cuomo On NY-27

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo told reporters yesterday it was his priority to elect Democrats to congressional seats this fall, but he did no favor to the only Democratic candidate currently eligible to be elected in NY-27.

The governor repeatedly made clear he felt his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, had the best chance to beat Republican incumbent Rep. Chris Collins, with whom Cuomo has tangled publicly on a number of occasions.

Cuomo said he explored the possibility of replacing the current Democratic candidate, Nate McMurray, with Hochul at the request of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and others, though he insisted the final decision about whether to heed this call is Hochul’s – and she has repeatedly said she wants to seek re-election, not run against the man who ousted her from Congress.

Not surprisingly, McMurray was not at all happy about this turn of events, and said top Democrats are disconnected from what’s happening on the ground, where the party and union leaders across the district have thrown their support behind him.

“I wish the governor would join me on a trip to Batavia or Warsaw or Lockport and see the support we’re feeling in those rooms,” he said. “Sooner or later Albany and DC will realize, ‘Don’t underestimate Nate.’ I’m no pawn on a board. No one owns me. No one owns the people of NY 27.”

McMurray said the governor is unaware of the enthusiasm he has generated in the district, and tried to turn the fact that high-level members of his own party want him ousted to his advantage.

“Clearly I’m not part of the Washington/Albany insider game,” McMurray said. “But you know what? I want no part of that mess. This is a new era. It’s an era where the people again decide what’s best, not a group of political elites.”

McMurray said he continues to support Hochul in her re-election bid, and is proud of her representation of Western New York.

Report Examines CPV Lobbying Ahead Of Percoco Trial

From the Morning Memo:

A report being released Friday by the Public Accountability Initiative examines the money spent on the consulting and lobbying firm Mercury Public Affairs by Competitive Power Ventures as the trial of a former close aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo loomed.

The report highlights the money spent by CPV on lobbying and other public relations efforts as the trial of Joe Percoco approached last year.

The group’s survey ties the amount of money spent by CPV to the increased scrutiny of its power plant project in the Hudson Valley that played a key role in the case.

Percoco earlier this year was convicted of federal corruption charges that stemmed from efforts to secure economic development contracts in exchange for bribes and a low-show job for his wife.

“After the November 2016 indictment of Percoco, CPV’s state and federal lobbying efforts more than quadrupled,” the report found. “Whereas CPV spent $100,909 on lobbying in 2016, it spent $430,000 in 2017.”

The report also comes as Cuomo’s rival for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, Cynthia Nixon, has made the project an issue in her campaign.

CPV in a statement blasted the report, calling it “the latest political stunt by those who want to ignore the facts and the law.”

“CPV has met and exceeded every state and federal standard to operate this plant and build the pipeline needed to supply it with natural gas, winning hard-fought battles against the Cuomo administration in court as a result,” said Tom Rumsey, the company’s vice president for external affairs.

“When the CPV Valley Energy Center is operational on our primary fuel, we will be one of the most efficient and environmentally sound power plants in the country. For New York, that equates to a reduction in carbon emissions of an estimated half a million tons per year while bolstering grid reliability and providing critical revenue into local governments.”

The report was also criticized by Mercury itself.

The firm’s co-chairman, former Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer, who was the Democratic nominee for mayor of New York City in 2005, said in a statement, “This is such a reach, it’s ridiculous.”

The Percoco Connection – Final Report %5bfor SoP April 20 2018%5d by Nick Reisman on Scribd

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not yet released his public schedule for the day.

The Legislature is not in session.

Students across the state and nation will be walking out of classes to demand comprehensive gun violence prevention legislation on the state and federal levels.

President Donald Trump is still at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, where late this afternoon he will host a roundtable with Republican National Committee supporters.

At 10 a.m., “The Brian Lehrer Show” features NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and former NYC Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, WNYC.

Also at 10 a.m., LG Kathy Hochul addresses high school students at a National School Walkout Against Gun Violence, Kings Park High School, 200 NY-25A, Kings Park.

At 10:30 a.m., Assemblywoman Carmen Arroyo, Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., New York City Councilman Rafael Salamanca Jr. and other officials break ground for two new buildings at La Central, 600 Brook Ave., Bronx.

Also at 10:30 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Richard A. Carranza will visit classes and participate in a cooking workshop at PS 69 Journey Prep School in the Bronx, 560 Thieriot Ave.

At 11 a.m., Hochul highlights state initiatives sexual violence at a Crime Victims’ Rights Consortium, IBEW Local 25, 370 Motor Parkway A, Hauppauge, Long Island.

At 11:30 a.m., de Blasio will make a major announcement about Central Park, The Mall at Central Park – Southern Entrance, Center Drive and East Drive, Manhattan.

At noon, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, New York City Councilman Daniel Dromm, state Sen. Jose Peralta and Assemblyman Michael DenDekker break ground on the reconstruction of Travers Park, 78th Street and 34th Avenue, Queens.

At 1:30 p.m., Hochul delivers the keynote address at the NYPA Women in Power Leadership Summit, IBM Learning Center, 20 Old Post Rd., Armonk.

At 2 p.m., Cuomo’s office and Columbia University co-host the Clean Energy and Investment Conference to discuss how to decarbonize institutional funds and invest in clean energy, Columbia Law School, Jerome Greene Hall, 435 W. 116th St., Room 106, Manhattan.

At 3:30 p.m., Assemblyman Thomas Abinanti and state Sen. David Carlucci urge the state Department of Transportation to complete the study and report of railroad grade crossings that is required by law, Commerce Street train crossing, Taconic Parkway and Commerce Street, Valhalla.

At 4 p.m., Carranza hosts a student town hall, followed by a parental town hall at 5:30 p.m., Walton Campus, 2780 Reservoir Ave., the Bronx.

At 5:30 p.m., Assemblywoman Nily Rozic speaks to the NYU Wagner Women’s Caucus on addressing sexual harassment through state legislation, NYU Wagner Graduate School of Public Service, 295 Lafayette St., Manhattan.

Headlines…

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani joined President Donald Trump’s personal legal team, adding a trusted ally and veteran prosecutor to a group that has struggled to attract and retain top talent.

“Rudy is great,” Trump said in a statement released by Jay Sekulow, his lawyer. “He has been my friend for a long time and wants to get this matter quickly resolved for the good of the country.”

Trump will also bring on Jane Serene Raskin and Martin R. Raskin, former federal prosecutors in Florida. The trio gives Trump a broader legal stable as he faces the special counsel, Robert Mueller, and the threat of an investigation by Manhattan federal prosecutors into his longtime personal lawyer and fixer, Michael Cohen.

Trump spoke in intimate and candid terms to former FBI Director James Comey about some of the most sensitive matters before the agency, including the salacious dossier detailing Trump’s ties to Russia and the investigation into Michael Flynn, the president’s first national security adviser, according to Comey’s closely guarded memos, sent to Congress from the Justice Department last night.

Dismissed ex-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe could face criminal charges for misleading investigators on four occasions about information provided to The Wall Street Journal.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s aides and campaign staff made a round of phone calls to elected officials, asking them to not attend a rally yesterday in support of community groups that have endorsed his opponent, Cynthia Nixon, according to eight NYC Council members who received such calls or messages and two others briefed on the effort.

Asked whether he had indeed said the unions that continue to fund these groups can “lose my number,” Cuomo responded: “I’m not going to punish. It has nothing to do with me. You know, punishment is for God. Who the unions should support or not support, that’s up to the unions. Nobody is going to tell them what to do.”

WFP State Director Bill Lipton, who says he attended a meeting at which Cuomo used that phrase, had a different take: “Make no mistake. The threat is real. I was there,” he said at the rally. “We’re not afraid of the bullying and the deception. We stand proudly for our progressive values.”

Gay rights advocates lit into Nixon for her seeming change of heart on Cuomo’s role in legalizing gay marriage in New York.

As the dust settles on the party’s choice, the question remains of how, in practical terms — and how much, in political terms — the WFP endorsement will help Nixon, an actress and educational activist making her first run for political office.

AG Eric Schneiderman sat down with students from Manhattan’s Bard High School Early College to talk gun control, and will publish a video of the talk online today to mark the 19th anniversary of the Columbine massacre in Colorado.

The NYC Department of Education will penalize city high-school students who take part in a half-day gun-control protest today, according to a spokesperson.

Students of a Long Island middle and high school are now required to wear clear backpacks on campus as part of a new safety measure in the wake of the Valentine’s Day mass shooting that left 17 dead in Florida.

Cuomo ramped up pressure on banks and insurers to revisit whether their ties to the National Rifle Association and other gun rights groups harm their reputations and the public interest.

Cuomo, a New York City native, raised eyebrows last week after he claimed that he was an illegal immigrant and taunted officials to deport him.

The push to decriminalize marijuana has picked up another high-profile backer — Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer — just a week after Trump endorsed letting states decide how to regulate the drug.

Democratic state Assemblywoman Shelley Mayer, who running for state Senate in a critical special election in Westchester County Tuesday, has the backing of former Vice President Joe Biden, who has cut a last minute automated phone call on her behalf.

Mayer’s GOP state Senate race opponent, Julie Killian, charged that a campaign worker for Mayer posted vile and hateful tweets about cops. Mayer’s campaign said the individual in question was an unpaid volunteer.

Cuomo said “many, many people” – including House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi – believe LG Kathy Hochul would make a stronger candidate than Nate McMurray in the race to unseat Rep. Chris Collins, but denied he enlisted former Assemblyman Sam Hoyt to urge McMurray to drop out.

“I said to Kathy ‘if you want to run I support that; if you don’t want to run, I support that,'” Cuomo said. “From my position, nothing has changed.”

More >

Cuomo Talks Up Hochul For Congress But Affirms Commitment To Her As Running Mate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, affirmed his commitment to Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul as his running mate this fall, during a press availability Thursday in Buffalo. That is, if that’s what Hochul wants to do.

Cuomo did discuss a push this weekend to get the lieutenant governor to replace Democratic candidate Nate McMurray in New York’s 27th Congressional District. He repeatedly said Hochul would be the best candidate to defeat incumbent Republican Chris Collins, but indicated he did not initiate the effort to push her off his own ticket.

“It’s all flattery for Kathy. (House Minority Leader) Nancy Pelosi, (House Democratic Caucus Chair) Joe Crowley, I got calls from all across the nation asking me to ask Kathy to run but I always said it was Kathy’s decision,” he said.

The governor also denied drafting embattled former Empire State Development official Sam Hoyt, who has been accused of sexually harassing a state employee, to gauge McMurray’s interest in dropping out of the race.

“But there’s no secret that many, many people have been trying to get Kathy Hochul to run and many, many people have said Kathy Hochul would be the strongest candidate and many, many people say that she would be a stronger candidate than Nate McMurray,” he said.

Despite calling the issue moot, because Hochul has continually said she does not plan to run for Congress (and McMurray, for that matter, has said he won’t drop out), the governor certainly seemed to be talking up his lieutenant governor as a House of Representatives candidate. He said he is not worried about her prospects in a primary for lieutenant governor against Brooklyn Council Member Jumaane Williams.

“She’s a very strong candidate in any position,” Cuomo said. “This congressional seat is key.”

The governor said he made it his priority to elect Democratic candidates to Congress this year. The effort seems to have zeroed in on Republican members who voted in favor of the federal tax overhaul.

Cuomo said by capping deductions on state and local taxes at $10,000 those members hurt their constituents and put New York at a structural disadvantage when it tries to attract new businesses.

Extras

A long-awaited Justice Department internal report on former FBI chief James Comey’s public disclosures on Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state and whether FBI employees leaked information to try to hurt her 2016 presidential bid is expected to be issued next month.

The Justice Department’s inspector general has reportedly referred to federal prosecutors his findings that Andrew G. McCabe, the former FBI deputy director, had repeatedly misled investigators.

Embattled attorney Michael Cohen has dropped a pair of much-touted libel suits against BuzzFeed and the private investigation firm Fusion GPS over publication of the so-called dossier detailing alleged ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.

Two black men whose arrests at a Starbucks in Philadelphia led to protests and plans for bias training at thousands of the chain’s locations spoke about the ordeal for the first time, saying they were not told by the police why they were being escorted out.

Several attendees walked out of an intense invite-only evangelical meeting this week at Wheaton College after the affair turned into “crazy Trump bashing.”

More than 1,500 tips have flooded Stormy Daniels’ legal team since her lawyer, Michael Avenatti, released a sketch Tuesday of the “thug” the porn star says threatened her to stay quiet about her alleged fling with Trump, Avenatti told TMZ.

Cuomo proposed reforms to the state’s sex trafficking laws, bringing New York into line with federal laws, which recognize that anyone who prostitutes out minors is a sex trafficker, a felony charge with mandatory prison time.

The average American utters their first curse word of the day at 10:54 am, according to new data.

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer changes his position, and says he will submit a bill aimed at decriminalizing marijuana.

The Outdoor Industry Association released its report for all 435 congressional districts in the U.S., and NY-21 is solidly in the top 20 in terms of economic output related to outdoor pursuits, to the tune of $1.5 billion annually.

Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, Jr., the superintendent of the US Military Academy at West Point, will leave that post this summer after completing a five-year stint and is expected to retire from active duty at that time.

The debate over congestion pricing is largely over, but it has focused attention on yet another fraught issue for drivers in and around New York City: pricey bridge tolls.

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani has been in talks to join the Trump’s personal legal team, according to a person familiar with the matter. UPDATE: He’s in.

The head of a major cryptocurrency exchange will not comply with the New York attorney general’s request for information.

The official portrait for former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie will reportedly cost taxpayers $85,000, more than the last three gubernatorial portraits combined.

The “Fearless Girl” statue near Wall Street that has become a global symbol of female can-do business spirit will be moved from her spot facing the “Charging Bull” to a location by the New York Stock Exchange.

Here’s TIME magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of 2018.

Cuomo reiterated that the state would step up its efforts to assist Puerto Rico as it recovers from last fall’s destructive hurricane by sending NYPA officials and hundreds of SUNY and CUNY students who will receive academic credit by performing Peace Corps-style rebuilding work in communities across the island.

The painting of a black Virgin Mary beside lumps of elephant dung so offended then-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani that he sued to remove it from the Brooklyn Museum. Now, it is entering the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art as a gift from billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen.

No, pasta will not actually help you lose weight. But the world’s largest pasta company, the Barilla Group, would like you to think so.

Congrats to Capital Tonight alum Michael Johnson on his new job.

Yikes.

Cuomo Says Driver’s Licences For Undocumented Immigrants A Local Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday gave a non-committal answer when asked about whether access to state driver’s licenses should be given to undocumented immigrants.

Cuomo, speaking with reporters in Buffalo, said the issue was a local one.

“That is a county by county decision, or we would have to change the state law,” he said.

Advocates on Wednesday in Albany rallied with state lawmakers at the Capitol to push for the provision, which has also been embraced by Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon.

The driver’s license issue has remained a controversial one for Albany to tackle. More than a decade ago, then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer proposed extending driver’s licences to undocumented New York residents. Spitzer later withdrew the proposal amid an outcry from Democrats and Republicans alike, but not before the issue was seen as tripping up Hillary Clinton in a presidential debate.

Cuomo has emphasized solidarity with the state’s immigrant community and contrasted his policies with those of President Donald Trump’s administration.

Pointing to his own family’s roots as Italian immigrants, Cuomo said earlier this month, “You want to deport immigrants start with me, because I’m an undocumented person.”

NY Unemployment Stays Flat In March

New York’s unemployment stayed largely flat in March at 4.2 percent, with the state’s private-sector job count increasing by only 200.

“New York State’s economy continued to expand in March as we reached a new, all-time high private sector job count and remained at our lowest statewide unemployment rate since before the recession,” said Bohdan M. Wynnyk, Director of the New York State Department of Labor’s Division of Research and Statistics.

The unemployment rate nationally is slightly lower, 4.1 percent.

New York City’s jobless rate also remains unchanged at 4.2 percent.

The Department of Labor in its announcement touting the jobs numbers pointed to the 8.1 million private sector jobs in the state, which it said was an all-time high.

Cuomo Doesn’t Back Bell’s Release

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday he opposes the release of convicted cop killer Herman Bell.

“If I were on the Parole Board I would not have made that decision,” Cuomo said. “The Parole Board is an independent board and I would not have made that decision.”

Members of the state Parole Board are nominated by the governor and confirmed by the state Senate.

Bell, convicted of killing two police officers in 1971, was granted parole in March. A state judge has put Bell’s release on hold pending a review after one of the officer’s widows petitioned to stop it.

Republican lawmakers, meanwhile, have blasted Cuomo’s executive order to extend voting rights to those who are on parole, a move the governor announced Thursday.

Cuomo Insists He’s Not Punishing WFP, Says Punishment Is Up To God

Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted in a news conference Thursday he was not out to “punish” the Working Families Party, saying such actions are “for God” to mete out.

At the same time, Cuomo insisted the split withing the WFP, which endorsed his primary opponent Cynthia Nixon on Saturday, was between the activist wing of the party and its founding labor unions, which have left the organization on the eve of meeting last weekend.

“I’m not going to punish. It has nothing to do with me,” Cuomo said. “Punishment is for God. Who unions should support or not support, that’s up to the unions. Nobody’s going to tell them what to do.”

WFP officials have said publicly that Cuomo has leveled threats against the WFP, telling them to “lose my number” if they endorsed Nixon and would find ways of pulling funding from the advocacy organizations that remain with the liberal ballot line. The groups are largely funded by labor organizations and cannot receive direct funding from the state.

Cuomo, however, said the schism within the party is solely between labor and advocacy groups, a split that has dated back several years before the Nixon primary challenge.

“The Working Families issue is an issue between the groups in the Working Families Party and the labor unions,” Cuomo said. “As the labor unions have said multiple times, the Working Families people are delusional if you tell them who to support.”

Cuomo has repeatedly said he is sticking with the labor unions in the dispute.

Over the last month, Cuomo has emphasized issues such as criminal justice reform, announcing an executive order that would allow people on parole the right to vote. At the same time, Cuomo has said the “facts have changed” on recreational marijuana, an issue that is being studied by the state, which was first announced in January. Nixon has called for a legalization of marijuana in New York.

“I have been doing the same thing since I entered public service,” he said. “I’m a very simple, consistent fellow.”

Cuomo Sticks With Labor

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been binding himself to organized labor ever more tightly as he faces a primary challenge from actress and education advocate Cynthia Nixon.

In an interview Wednesday on NY1, Cuomo insisted he did not work to initiate the split between labor and the activist wing of the Working Families Party, which endorsed Nixon last Saturday.

“It’s an intramural fight,” Cuomo said on “Inside City Hall.” “They said ‘I’m walking’ and I said, ‘I’m with you.’ I said, ‘I’m with organized labor, I stand with labor, I always have.’ I’m a consistent fellow.”

There had been tensions between the founding labor unions of the WFP and its constellation of advocacy groups in recent years. A range of labor groups have left the WFP, including the United Federation of Teachers, while 32BJ SEIU and the Communications Workers of America left this month.

Cuomo similarly expects labor will continue to back him, including its membership. New York remains the most unionized state in the country, even as membership has dropped elsewhere in the United States. Labor in New York, too, remains a potent vehicle for voter turnout.

‘The unions support me. I have virtually unanimous support among the unions,” Cuomo said. “The unions that were remaining in the WFP, 32BJ, Communications Workers of America, were with me.”

And Cuomo’s main theme of his campaign will likely remain focusing on his accomplishments as governor, saying he’s not interested in the abstract arguments.

“It’s not an intellectual debate,” he said. “It’s actually accomplishing things that working families need now.”