Nick Reisman

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Peralta Launches Digital Ad Touting DREAM Act, Sanctuary State Support

Sen. Jose Peralta on Monday released a digital ad that highlights the diversity of his Queens district and his support for the DREAM Act as well as making New York a sanctuary state.

The digital ad comes ahead of Peralta’s Sept. 13 Democratic primary, facing Jessica Ramos, a former aide to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Peralta, a former member of the now-dissolved Independent Democratic Conference, pointed to his backing of the DREAM Act, which would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. The bill has stalled in the state Senate, where Republicans have campaigned against the measure’s enactment.

At the same time, the sanctuary state legislation, which would bar New York law enforcement from coordinating with federal immigration enforcement efforts, has failed to gain traction in the Senate, either.

“Right now, only 5 to 10 percent of Dreamers attend college, and affordability is the biggest factor when undocumented students decide whether or not to go to college,” Peralta said. “As the lead sponsor I have made it my duty to support and be a champion for all the immigrants in my community and across the state.”

DC 37 Endorses Cuomo

New York City’s largest public workers union on Monday endorsed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election to a third term — the latest labor group to line up behind the governor ahead of the September Democratic primary.

“With Trump and the ultra-conservative Republicans launching an assault on working families – attempting to undermine union labor, enacting immigration policies that are tearing children apart from their parents and launching an assault on women’s rights – New York is fighting back,” Cuomo said.

“Organized labor built the middle-class and it is the strength of organized labor that is going to keep New York moving forward. I’m proud to accept this endorsement and will continue to stand side by side with DC-37 to protect the rights of our brothers and sisters of organized labor.”

Cuomo has had a turbulent relationship with public employee unions during his first term, seeking to ring concessions from them in cost-saving contracts as the state faced structural deficits he inherited.

But Cuomo has mended his relationship with labor during term two and has pushed to bolster unions ahead of a Supreme Court decision that is expected to weaken their ability to collect dues in New York.

“Governor Cuomo has been a steadfast champion of organized labor and has consistently stood by our side,” said Henry Garrido, the union’s executive director.

“As Trump and the Supreme Court are trying to systematically dismantle union labor, Governor Cuomo has set an example for the nation by protecting our fundamental right to collective bargain and organize. Whether it’s Janus protections, $15 minimum wage, safeguarding and increasing access to quality healthcare, the most comprehensive paid leave program or making college affordable for middle- and working-class students – Governor Cuomo has our back. He has made New York the progressive capitol of the nation and I am proud to endorse him for re-election.”

The push has paid off, too, with the Civil Service Employees Association, the state’s largest public workers union, staying out of the election in 2014, and deciding to back him this year.

Miner Raises From SAM Supporters

Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner’s independent bid for governor is being seeded in part by her old campaign account and supporters of the Serve America Movement, her campaign finance report made available on Monday shows.

Miner has $184,546 in total contributions and has spent $246,782. She also transferred $214,000 from her previous mayoral campaign account, the filing shows. She first launched her bid for governor in this spring and the filing reflects 24 days of fundraising.

Miner is running on the Serve America Movement ballot line, and her campaign contributions reflect some of the group’s organizers, including founder Scott Muller, who gave $44,000. She also received $44,000 from Charles Wall, an executive with Phillip Morris, who has supported the organization. And she received $44,000 from Michael Willner, the SAM chief executive officer.

Miner is a former two-term mayor of Syracuse and an ex-chairwoman of the state Democratic Committee.

Miner has ruled out receiving donations from limited liability companies and won’t accept donations from people or entities with business or seeking to business with the state.

In Digital Ad, Cuomo 2018 Pushes Senate GOP On RHA

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign on Monday launched a digital ad effort to push Republicans in the state Senate to take up a bill that is meant to strengthen abortion rights in New York.

The ad dovetails with a public push by Cuomo on the issue, which has heightened after the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court, potentially swaying the court’s vote in abortion cases.

The ad campaign makes good on a pledge by Cuomo to target individual lawmakers. In this case, the ads specifically mention Sens. Ken LaValle, Phil Boyle, Carl Marcellino, Kemp Hannon, Elaine Phillips, Terrence Murphy and Marty Golden.

All are downstate Republicans, some of whom represent potential swing districts in the chamber.

“As the Supreme Court and extreme conservatives in Washington threaten the rights of women across this country, New York is standing up against the Trump Administration to protect the values this state was built on,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“The political games need to end – Senate Republicans must come back to Albany and allow a vote to codify Roe v. Wade into New York State law before the Supreme Court has the ability to act. The Republicans in the State Senate have dodged this question for far too long and it ends now. If the Republicans won’t put this on the floor, every New Yorker should assume the entire conference is against a woman to control her own reproductive health.”

The ad pushes Republicans to take up the Reproductive Health Act, which would shift language for abortions from the state’s penal code to the public health law, change abortion’s status as an exception to homicide and allow abortions in the third trimester of a pregnancy under certain circumstances.

The bill has been proposed for the last decade, but has not gained traction in the Republican-controlled Senate, becoming part of an occasionally pitched political battle over abortion in the narrowly divided chamber in the process.

“There is nothing the Governor won’t say or do to change the subject from the rampant corruption that is sweeping through his administration,” said Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif. “His top aide, top economic development official and top contributors have all been convicted of bribery and bid-rigging, and are headed for prison, and he focuses on legalizing drugs and convincing people who don’t believe him that Roe vs. Wade is about to be overturned. Scared to death of Cynthia Nixon, the Governor is all politics all the time these days, and the people of this state deserve far better. Maybe the next Governor will clean up the mess Andrew Cuomo has made.”

Maloney Endorses Jackson In SD-31

From the Morning Memo:

Rep. Carolyn Maloney on Monday will endorse state Senate candidate Robert Jackson in his primary bid against incumbent Sen. Marisol Alcantara.

Jackson, a former city councilman, is challenging Alcantara in the Sept. 13 primary, one of several primary contests faced by ex-members of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference.

“Robert Jackson is a high-integrity Democrat who has a long and consistent record of standing up for what’s right,” Maloney said.

“An education hero for his fight for our public schools, Robert has courageously fought for small businesses, reproductive health, paid family leave and promoted fairness, justice and equality. With Trump in Washington, we can’t afford to have GOP-aligned Democrats representing us in Albany. We know which side Robert Jackson is on and we can count on him to stand up and fight for women, immigrants and all of us. I’m proud to endorse Robert Jackson today.”

The IDC dissolved in April and rejoined the Democratic conference in the state Senate, but that has done little to quell progressive challenges that had previously declared campaigns.

And since then, some of those campaigns have gained momentum that’s only increased in the last several weeks following the victory of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over incumbent Joe Crowley in Queens in a June congressional primary.

Jackson was previously endorsed by Rep. Jerry Nadler, as well as New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and former Mayor David Dinkins, among others.

Maloney survived a primary challenge of her own last month, turning back a challenge from Suraj Patel.

Cuomo Courts Small Dollar Donors With Billy Joel

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push to generate more contributions from modest donors continued over the weekend with a giveaway for a photo opportunity with his friend and performer, Billy Joel.

The price to enter: $5.

“My friend Billy Joel is giving his 100th concert at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday July 18th,” a fundraising email sent Saturday states. “It is sold out. But we have two tickets to give away and the opportunity to take an exclusive photo with Billy.”

The email comes as Cuomo is due to reveal his latest campaign fundraising report covering the first six months of 2018.

A prodigious fundraiser who last reported $31 million in cash on hand for his re-election campaign, Cuomo has come under scrutiny for his high-priced fundraisers and large-dollar contributions they generate from powerful figures.

After a New York Times article charted the relative lack of small-dollar giving with the Cuomo campaign, his campaign planned a series of fundraisers geared toward lower contributions, including an event with his daughters and the Winklevoss twins, initially billed as an “all you can drink” affair, later scaled back due to state liquor laws.

The Winklevoss twins are traders of cryptocurrency and have successfully sought New York state regulatory approval for their bitcoin exchange, Zcash.

Joel held a more exclusive fundraiser on Thursday with Cuomo on Long Island, praising him as a governor who can accomplish things for the state.

The event was held hours after the guilty verdicts were announced in the bid-rigging trial of former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros and prominent upstate developers who contributed to Cuomo’s campaigns, though the contributions themselves were not an issue in the trial.

Cuomo is seeking a third term this November.

Gillibrand Says Kaloyeros Guilty Verdict Doesn’t Change Cuomo Endorsement

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand on Friday reaffirmed her support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election, saying the guilty verdict in the Buffalo Billion bid rigging trial for former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros is a symptom of corruption that impacts all levels of government.

“Obviously, corruption is in all institutions, not just the state government, but the federal government as well,” she said during a stop in Troy. “I think there are very saddening reports, but my job is to stop corruption where I can in Congress.”

As for supporting the governor’s re-election, she said, “No, it doesn’t change my endorsement.”

Cuomo is seeking a third term this fall and faces Cynthia Nixon, an education advocate and actress, in a Sept. 13 primary.

Gillibrand is also running for re-election this year and faces Republican Chele Farley.

SD-5: NYSUT Endorses Gaughran

The New York State United Teachers union on Friday endorsed Democratic state Senate candidate Jim Gaughran in the 5th Senate district on Long Island.

The endorsement is interesting, given the Republican Gaughran wants to unseat is Sen. Carl Marcellino, the chairman of the Education Committee in the chamber.

“I thank the educators at NYSUT for endorsing my campaign and supporting my efforts to serve in the State Senate,” Gaughran said in a statement. “I am especially proud to have earned this endorsement because public service and supporting public education are core values to me. Our students deserve a world-class education, and that will only be possible if we invest in our public schools. I will fight to ensure our public schools and educators have the support and resources they deserve.”

NYSUT unsuccessfully this year pushed for the approval of a bill that would decouple state examinations from teacher evaluations, a measure that did not gain a vote in the Senate.

“After every single Senate Republican and several Democrats turned their backs on New York teachers and public school students at the end of this year’s legislative session, NYSUT vowed to remember who failed to stand with us. In this critical race, Jim Gaughran is clearly the better choice for public school teachers and their students,” said NYSUT President Andy Pallotta. “We are committed to standing shoulder to shoulder with Gaughran as we fight to restore local control of our schools and advocate for working families.”

After Kaloyeros Guilty Verdict, Cuomo Defends Response

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday said he would be open to “any additional checks and balances” on economic development while he also defended his office’s response to bid rigging charges leveled against former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros following the guilty verdict in the case a day earlier.

But at the same time, Cuomo said there isn’t anything he would or could have done differently to prevent the corruption case from happening in the first place.

“I’m open to any additional checks and balances as long as they’re effective and get the job done,” Cuomo told reporters.

Kaloyeros, along with prominent upstate developers, were found guilty of rigging bids connected to the Buffalo Billion economic development program, an effort devised by Cuomo to boost the western New York economy.

Cuomo insisted the Kaloyeros case was a surprise, given his track record in state government that pre-dated the current administration.

“Mr. Kaloyeros was surprising to everyone because he was a 20-25 year state employee,” Cuomo said. “He pre-dated me. He had done great work under Gov. Pataki. The Albany regional turnaround, becoming the nano capital of the world, was really one of the great economic development projects in this state, in decades.”

The comments Friday were the most extensive to date Cuomo has given since the indictments, which had been part of the same case against Cuomo’s former close aide, Joe Percoco. The cases were separated, and Percoco earlier this year was convicted of bribery and fraud charges.

During the Buffalo Billion case, Cuomo has been pushed to back oversight and transparency reforms, and restore contract review powers to the state comptroller’s office.

Cuomo pointed to controls instituted by his office after Kaloyeros was indicted as recommended by the report of an outside consultant, Bart Schwartz.

“Can you stop people from doing stupid things? No. Can you stop people from doing criminal things? No. Can you stop people from doing venial things? No. But you can have a system in place that allows the law to be aggressively prosecuted,” Cuomo said, adding, “We overhauled the whole system and we brought in the best accounting person.”

The developers in the case were also donors to the governor’s campaigns, but the donations were not made an issue in the trial, a fact Cuomo repeatedly pointed out to reporters.

“Let’s get the facts straight,” he said. “The question is how do you stop bid rigging by SUNY, because it had nothing to do with any campaign contributions.”

As for that money, Cuomo separated funds given to him by Louis Ciminelli, Steven Aiello and Joseph Girardi after their indictments. It is not clear what Cuomo will ultimately do with those donations.

“We segregated the money that we gave when we first heard about it,” he said. “We’ll talk to the Southern District. I want to make sure we get there input what we do with the funding.”

The guilty verdicts have been seized on by Cuomo’s political rivals, Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro and Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging the governor in a Democratic primary.

Nixon on Friday cast doubt on whether Cuomo would be adept enough to combat corruption in New York, comparing it to a bull trying to clean up a China shop.

“OK,” Cuomo said in response. “That’s her opinion.”

Cuomo Links RHA To Same-Sex Marriage Vote

As he campaigns for a vote on the Reproductive Health Act in the state Senate, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday drew a direct comparison to the 2011 vote to legalize same-sex marriage that was supported by four Republican senators.

Speaking in Brooklyn in the morning, Cuomo noted the 1970 vote that led to the adoption of the state’s abortion laws was due to Republican lawmakers voting in favor of the legislation, which also led to political consequences for them.

“By the way, to pass marriage equality in 2011, we needed four Republicans to vote yes,” Cuomo said. “The four Republicans who voted yes all lost their seat. But they are people who I respect.”

The Reproductive Health Act, a bill meant to strengthen abortion rights in the state, has stalled in the Republican-controlled state Senate since it was first introduced 11 years ago.

But supporters of the legislation contend the measure could receive GOP votes in support of it should it be allowed for a vote.

“It’s about voting your conscious,” Cuomo said. “The Senate Leader in 1970 did not have to allow them to vote on that bill. That’s always been the Albany game. All the members get to say, oh I would support it. If it comes to the floor I would support it. But then a wink and a nod, the Senate Leader never allows the bill to come to the floor. So you never really know.”

Cuomo has called on the Senate to return to Albany voluntarily and pass the legislation, which has already cleared the Democratic-controlled Assembly.

Republicans, however, are unlikely to take up that vote, even as one GOP lawmaker, Sen. Marty Golden of Brooklyn, is pushing for a special session to extend speed cameras in New York City near schools, a program due to lapse on July 25.

For now, Cuomo has not called lawmakers back to Albany and does not have the power to directly force a vote in the Legislature.

Cuomo’s nod to the same-sex marriage vote is interesting, given it was a vintage victory for him during the first year of his first term.

The law likely led to President Obama’s re-affirmation of support for marriage for gay couples, as well as the Supreme Court ruling that provided for marriage rights to same-sex couples nationwide.

Cuomo largely was the focal point of the effort in the Senate to pass the bill, a process that include lots of closed-door arm twisting and legislative maneuvering to get done.