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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Jul 18th - 2:01 pm
Fans of Aaron Sorkin’s iconic political TV drama “The West Wing” perked up today when Gov. Andrew Cuomo told a (rather long) joke at his natural disaster response summit about the farmer on the flood.
In short, this one is about a farmer facing fast-rising flood waters who repeatedly rejects offers of assistance because he believes God will save him from a watery grave. The man ends up drowning and demanding an explanation at the gates of Heaven from God, who replies (more or less): “I sent you all that help! What are you doing here?”
For those who might have missed either Cuomo’s speech today or the West Wing scene in which a priest (played by actor Karl Malden) tells this story – not so much of a joke in this instance, since the topic at hand was the death penalty – to President Bartlet in the Oval Office in Season I, Episode 14 titled “Take This Sabbath Day”, here they are for your viewing pleasure:
Jul 18th - 1:18 pm
Park Strategies, the lobbying and consulting firm founded by former Republican Sen. Alfonse D’Amato, formally welcomed the newest member of its government affairs practice: Juanita Scarlett.
Scarlett, who has worked for both former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (in the AG’s office) and current Gov. Andrew Cuomo (in the AG’s office and at ESDC), will be joining the firm as a managing director.
“We are immensely pleased to welcome Juanita to Park Strategies,” D’Amato said in a press release.
“She brings immense public affairs experience and an invaluable perspective on government, business, media, and political strategies. She will be a huge asset to Park Strategies and we look forward to welcoming her current clients and working with her on exciting new projects.”
Scarlett actually has long standing ties to the Cuomo clan. She began her political career as spokesperson in the press office of the governor’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
D’Amato was for many years one of the state’s top GOP power brokers. He and former state Republican Chairman Bill Powers are, in fact, widely credited with masterminding the 1994 campaign of a little known state senator, George Pataki, who surprised the Democrat-dominated state to derail Mario Cuomo’s quest for a fourth term.
But ever since D’Amato was forced into early retirement from public service from Democrat Chuck Schumer in 1998, he has slowly broadened his political horizons in recognition of the dwindling power of the Republican Party in New York.
D’Amato was a big Cuomo supporter during the 2010 campaign, and this year, he is raising significant amounts of campaign cash for Democratic New York City mayoral candidate Bill Thompson.
In the interest of full disclosure, I should note that Scarlett also has a connection by marriage to Capital Tonight. She is married to the host of our sister show, “Road to City Hall,” NY1′s Errol Louis.
Jul 18th - 12:32 pm
The liberal advocacy group Americans United for Change is out with a new TV ad that attacks the House Republicans for voting yet again to undermine key provisions of Obamacare and also prominently features Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s claim that insurance premium rates will drop dramatically as a result of the health care reform law.
In fact, the ad called “Hands Off Obamacare” that was released today and will air on cable stations for the next week, starts off with a shot of yesterday’s New York Times headline that trumpeted: “Health Plan Cost for New Yorkers Set to Fall 50%.”
House Republicans have questioned that claim even as White House spokesman Jay Carney highlighted it during his daily press briefing and praised New York to the skies.
Among those challenging the Cuomo administration’s health care exchange prediction was Rep. Chris Collins, who told The Buffalo News:
“Those are not numbers that make any sense, in my book. I would want to see the real data and where it came from. It’s easy to manipulate a number to fit what you’re trying to say.”
The GOP-controlled House has voted close to 40 times since January 2011 to limit, defund, scale back or fully repeal Obamacare.
Yesterday, lawmakers voted to authorize the Obama administration’s decision to delay the employer coverage mandate by a year, and then followed that up with a vote – largely along party lines – to also delay the individual mandate, which is NOT something the White House support.
The employer mandate delay passed 264-161, but only 35 Democrats voted for it, including three New Yorkers, all of whom are in swing districts: Reps. Sean Patrick Maloney, Bill Owens and Dan Maffei.
Jul 18th - 6:24 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany, where he’ll hold the New York Rising Storm Recovery Conference at the Hart Auditorium, Empire State Plaza, at 11:30 a.m. (HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan is scheduled to attend).
At 10 a.m., Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, representatives of the 289 Grand Street Tenants Association and Asian Americans for Equality and other NYC officials mark the return of tenants this spring who were displaced by an April 12, 2010, fire; 111 Division St., Manhattan.
At 10:30 a.m., NYC Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Chris Quinn will be formally endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice NY, 470 Park Ave. South, 7th floor, Manhattan.
At noon, ex-Congressman and Democratic mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner delivers what his campaign says will be a “major policy address” on housing at LeFrak City, Rome Building Continental Room, 96-10 57th Ave., Queens.
Also at noon, the UFT will announce a lawsuit being filed in state Supreme Court to stop the NYC Department of Education from starting school co-locations promoted by Mayor Bloomberg, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 12:45 p.m., Manhattan BP and NYC comptroller candidate Scott Stringer Visits Corona Senior Center Colombian Independence Celebration with Assemblyman Moya, 108-74 Roosevelt Ave., Queens.
At 2 p.m., state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will release a fiscal profile looking at the financial and demographic trends in the city of Binghamton, Binghamton City Hall, 38 Hawley St., Fourth floor, Mayor’s Conference Room.
Tonight, NYC Democratic mayoral candidate Sal Albanese brings his campaign to the Catskills to woo Orthodox Jewish voters summering there. He will be joined by his wife Lorraine for a full schedule of events in Monticello, Woodridge and Greenfield Park this evening and tomorrow.
After 12 years of Mayor Bloomberg, a New York Times/Siena poll found New Yorkers believe empathy is the most important trait the next mayor will possess, and Quinn is leading Weiner, 27-18, among Democrats.
The same poll reveals New York City voters believe both Weiner and Eliot Spitzer deserve a second chance, but negative opinions of them outweigh positives.
On the GOP side, most voters have no idea who the candidates are, but Joe Lhota is leading among those who do.
During a radio interview, Spitzer apologized to his former lieutenant governor, David Paterson, for leaving him in the lurch following his resignation due to a prostitution scandal.
On his old network, CNN, Spitzer said prosecutors went too far in seeking a second-degree murder charge of George Zimmerman, and argued as a result “justice has not been served” in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin.
Bowing to pressure, Eliot Spitzer released the first two pages of his 2011 and 2012 income tax returns. But he kept hidden the details of his business holdings, deductions and charitable giving.
Jul 17th - 4:55 pm
Posted by Liz Benjamin in [...]
UPDATE: Eliot Spitzer finally filed with the Conflict of Interest Board. His filing, due last week, indicates he’s still being paid quite a bite by CNN though he parted ways with the network in 2011.
An Iowa GOP US Senate candidate promised to try to convert Jewish Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer if elected.
US Attorney Preet Bharara isn’t worried about getting his cases getting hijacked by Spitzer if the former governor makes it to the NYC comptroller’s office.
Mayor Bloomberg, who knows a little bit about self funding, doesn’t see anything wrong with Spitzer spending his own money on his campaign.
Spitzer tried to explain to MSNBC host Chris Hayes how refusing to release his tax returns doesn’t make him like Mitt Romney.
Spitzer also told Hayes that he considers himself a feminist.
There’s no record of Manhattan BP Scott Stringer voting in the 2010 elections. His spokeswoman says he did vote, but forgot to sign the poll book.
Stringer’s campaign organized a conference call on which his surrogates slammed Spitzer for refusing to release his taxes.
Not surprisingly, the state Conservative Party and GOP endorsed Republican John Burnett for NYC comptroller.
“Subway Vigilante” Bernhard Goetz wishes NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly would run for mayor of NYC.
BuzzFeed created a journalism fellowship in memory of the late Michael Hastings, who died in a car accident on June 18.
RollCall included eight New York congressional districts on a list of fundraising in “in the most competitive and contentious races of 2014.”
Rep. Dan Maffei has a new district director.
Spitzer’s campaign has a new spokesman.
Bloombergt’s answer to the obesity epidemic: More stairs.
Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings paid $9,000 for a poll the day before he announced he wouldn’t seek re-election this year.
Rep. Tim Bishop, a tennis devotee, will turn pro for one night.
A (very long) day on the campaign trail for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.
A high school intern with the conservative Daily Caller Web site got into a testy exchange with White House Press Secretary Jay Carney.
Former White Plains Mayor Adam Bradley spent more than $153,000 in campaign funds for legal fees this year as he successfully battled domestic-violence charges.
Jul 17th - 12:32 pm
You knew this was coming…
Manhattan BP Scott Stringer is employing that age old political trick of using your opponent’s words against him, reminding his NYC comptroller Democratic primary challenger, Eliot Spitzer, that once upon a time he thought releasing one’s tax returns was of the utmost importance for candidates seeking elected office.
After releasing five years of his own returns yesterday, Stringer called on Spitzer to do the same. The former governor did not heed this call, preferring instead to release through a spokeswoman) the most basic information regarding his adjusted gross income for 2011 and 2012 and the combined amount of federal, state and NYC taxes he paid.
Stringer cried hypocrisy, noting some rather pointed comments Spitzer made against then-presidential candidate Mitt Romney in 2012 when he was host of The Current TV Show “Viewpoint.” The borough president employed those comments in a web ad that appears below.
Stringer’s campaign also noted that Spitzer said in 1996 (two years after his first failed run for state attorney general): “I reveal my tax returns every year. I think it’s the right thing to do.”
The old Eliot Spitzer supported stringent financial disclosure,” said Stringer’s campaign spokeswoman Audrey Gelman.
“Just as we’ve seen on his decision to abandon campaign spending limits he once supported, it’s increasingly clear that Eliot Spitzer believes there are two standards in public life – one for him, and one for everyone else.”
This tax return thing is a routine issue for candidates to use against one another – just ask former Rep. Rick Lazio (this was an issue in both his 2000 US Senate race against Hillary Clinton – who then had her own problems with this in the 2008 presidential campaign – and also in the 2010 governor’s race) or even Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who refused to release her returns in the 2006 campaign in which she upset then-GOP Rep. John Sweeney.
Gillibrand, who used the “release-your-taxes” argument against her never-realized primary opponent, Harld Ford Jr., in 2010, released five years of returns in 2012 - the year she easily defeated her GOP opponent, Wendy Long.
It is not legally required for candidates or elected officials to release their taxes, but it is traditional for them to do so – especially once they’re in office. Spitzer did allow reporters to review his redacted returns every year, and they routinely revealed that he made quite a bit of money off his family’s real estate holdings.
Jul 17th - 6:48 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule.
At 8:30 a.m., NYC Public Advocate and Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio discusses the future of economic development in downtown Manhattan with the Board of Downtown-Lower Manhattan Association, Suite 3340, 120 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 10:25 a.m., de Blasio will join WNYC’s Brian Lehrer to discuss the need to save Brooklyn hospitals from closure, 93.9 FM, AM 820.
At 11 a.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will make an announcement regarding relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Sandy at the intersection of Fulton Walk and Oceanside Avenue, Breezy Point, Queens.
Also at 11 a.m., LG Bob Duffy will make an announcement in his hometown of Rochester, 115 Canal Landing Blvd.
At 12:30 p.m., NYC Council Speaker and mayoral candidate Chris Quinn, the Bloomberg administration, Council members and immigration advocates, will announce funding for adult education classes and legal services for young immigrants to help them qualify for the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 1 p.m., Tenants PAC will endorse Antonio Reynoso, ex-Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s NYC Council opponent, Los Sures David Santiago Senior Center, 201 S. 4th St., Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
Also at 1 p.m., NYC and union officials and minority advocates hold a news conference to criticize opponents of legislation intended to increase oversight of the NYPD recently passed by City Council but expected to be vetoed by the mayor; Hudson River side of Staten Island Borough Hall, 10 Richmond Terrace, Staten Island.
At 1:30 p.m., Democratic NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson will join Sen. Jose Peralta to announce new steps to end excessive fines and fees on small business owners, Pimpollo Colombian Restaurant, 32-39 Junction Blvd., East Elmhurst, Queens.
At 5 p.m., Manhattan BP and NYC comptroller candidate Scott Stringer meets with reporters while attending the opening of GrowNYC’s evening “greenmarket” farmers market in Union Square, and discusses efforts to provide working families with more access to fresh produce; Union Square West and 15th Street, Manhattan.
At 6 p.m., there will be a Brooklyn Food Coalition mayoral forum at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium, 66 West 12th St., Manhattan. Quinn and ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner are scheduled to attend.
Also at 6 p.m., the annual Bronx Democratic County Committee Dinner will take place at Marina Del Rey, 1 Marina Drive, the Bronx.
Friends confirm Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda Wall, live in separate apartments about 18 blocks apart, and that she only reluctantly assented to his run for NYC comptroller. So far, she is not publicly participating in his campaign.
The absence of Wall Spitzer on the campaign trail might not be so glaring if it wasn’t for the extremely public participation of Huma Abedin in the comeback bid of her husband, ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner.
Political experts and NYC women say that Weiner and Spitzer’s latest poll numbers — showing them leading with support strong from female voters — can be attributed to the forgiveness of their wives.
Weiner outpaced his rivals for mayor in fundraising over the past two months, netting more than $800,000 – much of it with the help of his wife and her ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton’s donor base.
Despite his on-air criticism of Mitt Romney for refusing to release his tax returns during the 2012 presidential race, Spitzer is now doing the exact same thing.
Hillary Clinton spoke about the “heartache” of the Trayvon Martin case in D.C. last night while speaking to an African-American sorority group, and said her “prayers” are with the dead teen’s family.
Democratic mayoral candidate and NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn’s campaign is quietly planning a strategy session today with some of the city’s most prominent leaders.
Quinn criticized the FDNY after an intern who fainted at a news conference waited more than 30 minutes for a city ambulance, causing the speaker to place personal calls to both the police and fire commissioners.
Supporters of former MTA Chair and GOP mayoral candidate Joe Lhota think he’s playing it too safe, and subverting his gregarious personality to his detriment.
Jul 16th - 5:00 pm
Manhattan BP Scott Stringer released five years of tax returns on called on his NYC comptroller race primary opponent, Eliot Spitzer, to do the same.
Spitzer’s did not heed that call, but said his 2011 adjusted gross income was $3.769 million, and he paid $1.489 million (39.5%) in federal, state and NYC taxes. The numbers for ’12 were: $4.268 million earned, $2.094 million paid (49%).
“Eliot has released his aggregate gross income and the amounts he paid in Federal, State and City taxes,” the former governor’s spokeswoman Lisa Linden said. “He will not be releasing the actual tax returns, as they contain income information about partnerships and other entities that is private.”
“The information he released provided the relevant data: AGI and taxes paid in the past two years. The percentages he paid in taxes were 49 per cent and 39.5 per cent, respectively. Additional information will be provided in the required campaign filings.”
Back when he hosted his Current TV show Viewpoint, Spitzer called then-GOP presidential candidate MItt Romney “inconsistent” for demanding others’ tax returns while refusing to release his own.
Spitzer has attracted some controversial – and perhaps unwelcome – supporters.
Asked if he’s more mature since he resigned as governor in 2008, Spitzer laughed and replied: “That may have been a low threshold.”
Spitzer’s two favorite words: “Amazing” and “brilliant.”
The state Conservative Party launched a petition drive in favor of legislative term limits in Albany.
AG Eric Schneiderman and MLB officials announced new efforts to protect current and future MLB players from discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation.
The New York Observer has a new blog.
Seth Pinsky is stepping down from the Economic Development Corporation to take a private sector gig with RXR Realty.
With assistance from (or at the direction of?) Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the state Democratic Party has broken the record for soft money fundraising with the $5.9 million it raised during the first six months of the year.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s re-election bid was endorsed by the Westchester Hispanic Law Enforcement Association in what is leaders said was an unusually early pick in the race.
NYC Council Speaker/Democratic mayoral candidate Chris Quinn called NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly after a call to 9-1-1 failed to produce a timely ambulance to help a woman who collapsed in the heat at Quinn’s press conference.
Mayor Bloomberg had a mysterious lunch at the White House with President Obama in February 2012.
Is an Amedore-Tkaczyk re-match in the cards?
Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown’s fundraising dominance over his opponent, Bernard Tolbert, continues.
Democratic NYC mayoral hopeful Anthony Weiner won the most financial support from contributors with real estate ties than any of his opponents - and even all the candidates for every other city office.
Zuffa, the parent company of UFC, contributed $34,000 to legislative campaigns and party committees since January in yet another failed attempt to get New York to lift its MMA ban.
Bloomberg said the lesson from the Trayvon Martin case decision is that current laws make it too easy for people to be “judge, jury and executioner.”
The SUNY Board of Trustees voted to begin the process of splitting up the University at Albany from the College of Nanoscale Engineering.
Jul 16th - 7:00 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in the New York City area with no public schedule.
NYC comptroller candidate/Manhattan BP Scott Stringer has two TV appearances today. This first is at 8 a.m. on WPIX-11 Morning News, the second is on MSNBC’s NOW with Alex Wagner at 12:30 p.m.
At 10 a.m., the Rev. Al Sharpton and National Action Network members holds a press conference in front of the US Justice Department in Washington, D.C. to appeal for a federal investigation into the death of Trayvon Martin.
Also at 10 a.m., Sen. Rand Paul will join Sens., Kirsten Gillibrand, Barbara Boxer and Charles Grassley to announce their full support of a proposal that seeks to reverse the systemic fear victims of military sexual assault have described in deciding whether to report the crimes committed against them, Senate Radio-TV Gallery, U.S. Capitol, Washington, D.C.
NYC Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral candidate Chris Quinn holds two events with fellow Council members to mark the 7th anniversary of city’s Fair Solid Waste Management Plan.
- The first is at 11 a.m. with Councilwoman Diana Reyna at P.S. 132, 320 Manhattan Ave., Brooklyn.
- The second is at 1:30 p.m. with Councilwomen Annabel Palma and Maria del Carmen Arroyo, The Center for Child Health & Resiliency, 890 Prospect Ave., the Bronx.
Also at 11 a.m., Ulster County Executive Mike Hein joins elected officials to discuss PayGo NY, New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, First Floor, Room B1-206, University at Buffalo, 701 Ellicott St., Buffalo.
At 11:30 a.m., Democratic NYC mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner proposes steps to stop the loss of neighborhood pharmacies, Pilgrim Pharmacy, 2941 Westchester Ave., the Bronx.
Both Weiner and Stringer will be attending/meeting voters at the Bronx Philharmonic’s performance tonight at 8 p.m. at Van Cortlandt Park.
At noon, LG Bob Duffy breaks ground for the Wyandanch Rising revitalization project, Long Island Railroad Parking Lot, 1595 Straight Path Rd., Wyandanch.
Also at noon, NYC Public Advocate and Democratic NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio holds a press conference on racial profiling with NYC Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito, Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda, Council Member Andy King, and leading clergy and activists, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At 12:30 p.m., Democratic NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson announces new efforts to help grow Latino small businesses with former Bronx BP Fernando Ferrer and then tours small businesses in East Harlem, outside the Casabe Senior Center, 150 East 121st St., Manhattan.
At 2 p.m., the SUNY Board of Trustees meets, State University Plaza, S-429, 353 Broadway, Albany.
At 2:30 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman will be joined by Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig and the MLBPA to make an announcement, Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th St., Manhattan.
At 5 p.m., Sen. Marty Golden holds a news conference to honor two men for rescuing a man from the tracks of the MTA’s R Line last week as a subway train approached; Fourth Avenue and 77th Street.
At 7 p.m., members of the NYC Panel for Educational Policy’s Contract Committee meet; conference room, second floor, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan.
Also at 7 p.m., Sen. James Sanders hosts a panel discussion titled “Trayvon Martin: Injustice in Florida”, New Jerusalem Baptist Church of Jamaica, 122-05 Smith St., Queens. (De Blasio will attend).
The head of a Queens nonprofit tied to ex-state Sen. Shirley Huntley surrendered to police this morning on charges he stole $88,000 in taxpayer money to fund personal expenses like dining out and new clothes. The charges are coming from AG Eric Schneiderman’s office.
According to the NY Post, the probe of nonprofits related to Huntley now includes three current NYC Council members, all Queens Democrats: Ruben Wills, Leroy Comrie (who just ended a bid for borough president, citing “personal reasons”), and Mark Weprin. Also under the microscope: Former Councilman-turned-Sen. James Sanders.
NYC comptroller hopeful Eliot Spitzer is one of several high-profile NYC candidates who did not file a financial-disclosure report by last Thursday’s deadline. Ex-Sen. Marty Connor, who’s working on Spitzer’s campaign, said the candidate had been “very busy” and plans to file soon.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver used $115,000 in campaign funds during the past six months to pay legal bills stemming from his involvement in the Vito Lopez scandal. Since 2004, Silver has spent $190,000 worth of campaign cash on legal bills.
More than 80 percent of the money Cuomo raised in the last six months came from donors who gave $10,000 or more, according to an analysis released by NYPIRG.
Jul 15th - 5:10 pm
Posted by Liz Benjamin in [...]
US AG Eric Holder called Trayvon Martin’s death ”tragic” and “unnecessary,” but gave no hints whether the Justice Department will bring civil rights or hate crimes charges against shooter George Zimmerman.
One of the women on the jury that found Zimmerman not guilty has already signed with a book agent.
Eliot Spitzer (48-33 vs. Scott Stringer) and Anthony Weiner (25 percent to NYC Council Speaker Chris Quinn’s 22) are leading their respective races among Democrats, a new Q poll found.
The ever quotable Q pollster Mickey Carroll refers to Weiner and Spitzer as the “tabloid twins.”
Spitzer refused to comment on whether he and wife Silda are living together, saying: “Our private lives are our private lives.”
Common Cause/NY accused Spitzer of undergoing a “Jekyll-and-Hyde transformation” on the topic of campaign finance reform.
“Recovering politican” and former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin says Spitzer and ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner are addicted to attention in all its forms.
Sen. Thomas Libous’ campaign committee spent another $20,000 on legal fees earlier this year, two months before a contractor says he was questioned by the FBI about work he performed on Libous’ lake home.
Sen. David Carlucci paid $17,711 to the law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher not long after Sen. Malcolm Smith’s arrest on federal corruption charges – to ensure ”full compliance with any requests from the U.S. Attorney’s office.”
Sen. John Sampson, who is also facing corruption charges, spent $35,000 worth of campaign funds on legal fees.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino raised nearly $1.2 million since January, leaving $2.8 million in cash on hand after his re-election campaign started rolling out TV commercials and mailers.
Match the state lawmaker with his or her Albany commute playlist.
GOP NYC mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis and wife Margo contributed $79,000 to the campaign of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo since January.
Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., at it again.
Nate Silver thinks the US Senate could go to the Republicans in 2014.
Freedompalooza is apparently a controversial event title.
Bill and Hillary Clinton will co-host a $5,00-a-head fund-raiser in Bridgehampton, LI on Aug. 23 to benefit their family foundation.