Nick Reisman

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Cuomo’s Book Income Grows

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 memoir “All Things Possible” continued to provide him with income last year, a review of his 2016 income tax filings showed.

Cuomo declared $218,100 in royalty payments from publisher HarperCollins for the book on his taxes made available on Tuesday by his office.

The book, which has so far sold 3,200 copies, was released weeks before his successful re-election bid for a second term.

The book deal was negotiated by Washington-based attorney Robert Barnett, who has been known for negotiating high-dollar packaged book and media contracts for political figures, including former presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

All together, Cuomo has earned $783,000 in income from the book, which served as both a memoir and an outline of his governing philosophy.

Cuomo did not declare any income from the book contract in 2015.

Cuomo last year earned $417,748 on top of his $167,988 salary as governor. He made $20,000 in donations to HELP USA, the affordable housing non-profit he founded.

He paid a total of $113,570 in federal taxes, with $75,407 applied from his 2015 return. He overpaid in federal tax by $1,280.

In state taxes, Cuomo paid $27,731, with $428 in overpayments.

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, who filed jointly with her husband, former U.S. Attorney Bill Hochul, declared a joint income of $367,911. They contributed $21,260 to 22 different charities, mostly western New York organizations, including the United Way, Kathleen Mary House, Canisius College Advancement Series, Buffalo City Mission and St. Anthony of Padua Church.

Heastie’s California Swing

heastiejerrybrownAssembly Speaker Carl Heastie was in California for a fundraising trip benefiting both the Democratic Assembly Campaign Committee and his own Friends of Carl E. Heastie campaign fund, said Heastie spokesman Mike Whyland.

Heastie’s Twitter feed on Monday stirred with photos of him in California — on the floor of the Golden State’s Assembly chamber and meeting with the state’s Democratic governor, Jerry Brown (as well as Brown’s Corgi).

“I was honored to be recognized this afternoon on the floor of the California Assembly by Speaker @Rendon63rd,” he posted on Twitter.

The fundraiser was hosted by Willie Brown, the former mayor of San Francisco and a longtime Democratic Party power broker.

“Willie Brown, who is the former California Assembly Speaker and Mayor of San Francisco, has long expressed a desire to help further the progressive values Speaker Heastie has championed and is sponsoring the event,” Whyland said, adding no taxpayer funds were used for the trip. The trip was paid for by Heastie’s campaign.

Posting Her Taxes Online, Gillibrand Takes A Swipe At Trump

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand once again posted her tax return documents online and took a not-so-veiled swipe at President Donald Trump’s refusal to do the same.

“We need to keep demanding transparency and accountability from all of our elected officials,” Gillibrand wrote in an essay published on Medium. “Americans need to know that their representatives in government are working for them, and not influenced by conflicts of interest.”

Gillibrand began posting her taxes online in 2012 and has backed legislation like the STOCK Act, which would require members of Congress and the administration to reveal financial data such as stock trades.

Trump so far has declined to release his own taxes, breaking a presidential tradition that stretches back to the aftermath of the Watergate scandal. In Washington, Trump’s refusal to disclose the information has led to Democrats linking it to the overall trouble at achieving tax reform this year.

Updated: Chris Pack from the Crossroads/Senate Leadership Fund points out Gillibrand and her husband had an effective tax rate of 13 percent, which is half of what is publicly known about Trump’s taxes. Trump, based on the tax documents that have been leaked to the press, paid $38 million in taxes. At the same time, he noted Gillibrand gave less than 2 percent of her income to charity and did not make voluntary contributions on her return to organizations that benefit breast cancer research, Alzheimer’s, the Sept. 11 memorial or homeless veterans.

Bellone Taps Kaiman For Shared Services Effort

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone has tapped Jon Kaiman, a former official in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, to lead the implementation of a shared services effort that had been included in the state budget.

Kaiman is a former town supervisor of North Hempstead and served as Cuomo’s Sandy recovery czar.

“Jon Kaiman is a natural leader and public servant with a proven track record of getting the job done,” Bellone said. “I am excited that Jon will be leading my administration’s efforts to streamline bureaucracy and deliver savings for Suffolk County taxpayers under Governor Cuomo’s new Shared Services initiative.”

The plan is aimed at reducing property taxes through sharing services. The proposal had been made earlier in the year by Cuomo, but does not include a provision that would require voters to approve the plan in a referendum. Instead, local officials must hold public hearings and explain their positions on the shared service plan in writing.

“As a former Town Supervisor on Long Island, I look forward to working with local officials in a manner that is meaningful and helpful to them to make government more efficient, less costly and ultimately work better for all of the people we serve,” Kaiman said. “I thank the County Executive for this opportunity to usher in a new era of collaboration and accountability across Suffolk County.”

Cuomo Inches Toward National Spotlight

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s national profile has been on the rise in recent months, fueled by a Republican presidential administration in Washington and his own policies being pushed in New York.

“In any number of fronts, whether it’s infrastructure, college affordability, the environment the governor thinks New York will stand in good juxtaposition to were Trump is taking the nation,” said Bruce Gyory, a former gubernatorial advisor to Eliot Spitzer and David Paterson who now works at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips.

Cuomo’s burnished his image with trips to Israel, with more overseas travel planned for this year — plans that are in stark contrast to his first term effort to remain in New York.

“He has not been one of those globetrotting governors,” Gyory said. “On the other hand, his trips have had a substantive mission.”

The situation has drawn parallels with Cuomo’s own father in the 1980s, when Mario Cuomo staked out a position as a liberal bulwark against a conservative administration.

“He saw that his father against a much more popular president in Ronald Reagan did strike a very good chord in the early 1980s,” Gyory said.

And then there’s the free tuition program in the approved state budget, winning praise last week from the 2016 nominee for president, Hillary Clinton.

“I hope it’s the first of many states,” she said. “I think both Andrew and I would be delighted if other states said we don’t want to be the only state providing tuition free college.”

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, too, tweeted his support for the program. Cuomo has appeared several times with Sanders, including an appearance at the Democratic National Convention to win over skeptical liberals in the New York delegation.

Sanders joined Cuomo in January to unveiled the tuition proposal and later tweeted his support when it was approved.

But Cuomo has had to defend the program, which comes with strings attached such as in-state residency requirements after graduating.

“Public college, SUNY, should be free,” Cuomo said. “Now we can’t get there, but this is a first step.”

The free tuition deal was blasted by The New York Times editorial board and the newspaper’s conservative columnist, David Brooks. Cuomo over the weekend hit back.

“If you were to read the Times editorial, my father wouldn’t be governor, I wouldn’t be governor once, let alone re-elected,” he said.

Cuomo, too, has faced skepticism from liberals that he cares about their issues, while conservatives in New York have resented his gun control legislation first approved in 2013.

As for Mario Cuomo, he never did launch a presidential campaign. Andrew Cuomo, meanwhile, has insisted he’s running for re-election next year in a bid for a third term.

“I don’t know that he’s running for president,” Gyory said. “I don’t know if any of us do.”

DeRosa Named Secretary To The Governor

Gov. Andrew Cuomo named Melissa DeRosa his top aide on Monday, making her the first woman to hold the title of secretary to the governor.

The appointment was first reported by The Daily News.

Cuomo made the announcement along with a series of administration changes, with Jill DesRosiers becoming executive deputy secretary, Andrew Ball becoming assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs, and Michael Schmidt, a former adivsor to Hillary Clinton, becoming deputy secretary for economic development.

“From tuition-free college for the middle class to the nation’s boldest infrastructure agenda, our administration has an unprecedented record of success in fighting for greater social and economic opportunities for all,” Cuomo said. “These additions bring new ideas and talent to strengthen our team and build on our accomplishments to work together to continue to move New York forward.”

DeRosa replaces Bill Mulrow, who will be leaving the administration to rejoin his Wall Street firm, The Blackstone Group. Mulrow, Cuomo’s third secretary since taking office in 2011, will become chairman of Cuomo’s 2018 re-election bid as the governor seeks a third term.

“It has been the honor of my career to serve as Secretary to the Governor, and I look forward to continuing to support him and his work to improve the lives of all New Yorkers as Chairman of Cuomo 2018,” Mulrow said in a separate statement sent by the Cuomo re-election campaign.

DeRosa has risen swiftly in the Cuomo administration since she joined in April 2013 as the director of communications, becoming a key advisor to Cuomo as well as a fierce defender of his agenda in Albany. She has been credited with working on issues ranging from the MTA to the effort to increase the state’s minimum wage to $15.

Before joining the Cuomo administration, DeRosa was top aide to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and led re-election campaign for President Barack Obama in New York.

She is the daughter of a prominent Albany lobbyist, Giorgio DeRosa, but recuses herself in matters he has lobbied state officials.

Schneiderman Donates ‘Blue Bloods’ Residuals

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s brief appearance on the CBS cop drama “Blue Bloods” netted him $2,368 in residuals — money he’s donating to benefit real-life law enforcement.

Schneiderman on Monday released his tax returns for viewing by reporters, showing he earned $249,137 in 2016, counting both his investments and his $153,596 salary as the state’s attorney general.

Schneiderman so far has received $650 from his appearance on the show, donating the money to the Police and Fire Widows and Children’s Fund. Once he receives all the residuals, the money will be donated to that charity.

Other charitable donations last year included is synagogue, Congregation B’Nai Jeshurun, Jazz at Lincoln Center, the Louis Armstrong House Museum, and the Samuel L. Fields Y.

The returns show Schneiderman paid $48,080 in federal taxes and $23,434 in state taxes. He received a federal tax refund of $1,364 and a state refund of $1,259 which are being applied to next year’s taxes.

During the conclusion of the state budget’s passage this month, Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan confessed the show starring Tom Selleck is one of his favorites.

“The AG is proud to donate all income from his appearance on Blue Bloods to the New York Police and Fire Widows’ and Children’s Benefit Fund, an organization that provides vital support to the families of those who’ve made the ultimate sacrifice to protect New Yorkers,” said Schneiderman spokeswoman Amy Spitalnick.

Comptroller Blocks $21.3M In Questionable Tax Refunds

The state comptroller’s office has blocked the payment of $21.3 million in tax refunds that were deemed either questionable or fraudulent, his office on Monday announced.

The money is a fraction of the $4.4 billion Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office has paid out to date for some 4.6 million state refunds. In the coming days, $466 million is expected to be paid out for 471,000 refunds.

“My auditors are committed to safeguarding the funds of honest New Yorkers,” DiNapoli said. “We’ll stay one step ahead of the schemes used by tax cheats, and look to ensure only legitimate refunds are paid.”

Most of the questionable refunds that were stopped had been filed by taxpayers who claimed refundable credits that was based on incorrect information such as inflated or fraudulent dependents or understated income.

There has also been $2.2 million in refunds linked to tax preparers who filed fraudulent returns, DiNapoli’s office said.

DFS Fines Excellus $1M Over Contraceptive Coverage

Regulators are the Department of Financial Services have fined Excellus Health Plans $1 million after an investigation found the company had wrongly denied contraceptive coverage to women.

The denial of coverage was blamed on internal system and process errors at the insurer, which failed to promptly pay or deny claims and did not acknowledge consume complaints within the time required state law.

“DFS is taking this action to ensure that women receive the reproductive healthcare benefits they are entitled to under New York law,” said Financial Services Superintendent Maria Vullo. “Health insurers cannot deny New Yorkers of their State-mandated contraceptive coverage for any reason. In addition, consumers are entitled to prompt payment of claims and responses from their health insurers, as required by New York Insurance Law.”

State law requires health plans in New York provide coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices, while all non-grandfathered plans must cover at least one form of contraception.

The investigation by DFS found Excellus failed to make prompt payment for health claims or pay interest on some claims. At the same time, the company failed to deny some claims on a timely basis.

All told, Excellus failed to acknowledge complaints of 482 policyholders within 15 business days and 339 grievances within the 30-day required time frame.

In Post-Budget Session, Cuomo Says He’ll Take Cues From Legislature

From the Morning Memo:

As lawmakers return at the end of this month to a thin legislative agenda win Albany, Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he has no plans to push for centerpiece issues.

Speaking with reporters over the weekend, Cuomo insisted he got what he wanted in the budget — juvenile justice reform and a SUNY and CUNY tuition plan among them — while issues such as the DREAM Act and ethics reform remain too heavy a lift with the Legislature.

“Those that weren’t done in the budget, I don’t know that they’re feasible to get done. If we didn’t get it done in the budget, it means you don’t have the political will to get done,” Cuomo said.

He added: “I’ll respond to the initiatives that the Legislature coms up with. Frankly, everything big we wanted to get done we got done in the budget.”

Issues like the DREAM Act, which provides tuition assistance for undocumented immigrants, and ethics reform such as the constitutional amendment the governor first proposed in December for term limits and limiting outside income for state officials, lack the “political will,” he said.

Cuomo’s maximum leverage comes during the budget process, a power he displayed when he submitted an “extender” bill to fund the government temporarily while a broader spending plan was still be negotiated. The bill had the bulk of Cuomo’s preferred project and infrastructure spending.

Cuomo on Saturday at the annual Easter egg hunt at the executive mansion made clear he still blames the Legislature for the budget passing more than week into the new fiscal year, which begins April 1.

“Once the Legislature made the budget late, still timely, but a week late, the governor goes to extender, but all the extenders is the power with executives,” he said. “They did go late. I think it was a mistake and I think tactically it was a mistake for the Legislature.”

The post-budget session does not have much for lawmakers to consider. There’s the renewal of mayoral control of New York City schools at the end of June, the only truly deadline-driven concern for the Legislature.

Lawmakers may also make a push for a bill that ends child marriage in the state.

As for his plans, Cuomo said he’s focusing on running the state, building and boosting the upstate economy.

“I’m not going to do government as usual,” he said. “We never have.”