Nick Reisman

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Posts by Nick Reisman

Trump Tweets Support For Caputo

From the Morning Memo:

President Donald Trump on Sunday tweeted a congratulatory message to western New York political operative Michael Caputo, who had testified Friday to a House intelligence panel on alleged Russian collusion with the Trump campaign last year.

“Thank you to former campaign adviser Michael Caputo for saying so powerfully that there was no Russian collusion in our winning campaign,” Trump wrote on Twitter during a string of posts that morning.

Caputo has said “I heard nothing” when it came to Russian involvement, while also decrying the investigation itself.

Caputo has had a colorful career in politics, having worked in Russia as an advisor for Boris Yeltsin and later for a Russian media company and was hired to improve Vladimir Putin’s image in the U.S.

In 2010, Caputo worked on Carl Paladino’s campaign for governor. Paladino would later become a prominent supporter for Trump.

Caputo had sought a Trump-for-governor campaign in 2014, only for the businessman to set his sights on running for president.

State Officials Keep Voter Data Away From Trump Panel

From the Morning Memo:

New York is among the of states rebuffing efforts by President Donald Trump’s administration to gain access to voter registration information, all part of a stated effort to root out fraud.

Assembly Democrats released a letter urging the Board of Elections not to provide the voter data, arguing that in this instance, it’s not public.

“We’ve requested that they don’t share that information,” said Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie during a stop in Syracuse last week.

For New York officials, including Heastie and Gov. Andrew Cuomo, the request for identifying voter information from the commission established by the Trump White House is too broad.

“If there’s information that they want, there’s plenty of things that’s public, but I think their request went a little, not a little, a lot, beyond what I think a normal request should be,” Heastie said.

Trump established the commission after making a debunked and unsubstantiated claim that he lost the popular vote in 2016 because of millions of illegally cast votes. And, at least in New York’s case, much of what the president’s commission is seeking is not publicly available.

“That database is limited,” said Robert Freeman, the executive director of the Committee on Open Government. “It specifies for example a social security number, a motor vehicle ID photo — out of bounds, confidential, completely understandable.”

Freeman said the law is clear: A statewide database maintained by the state Board of Elections isn’t available unless there’s a clear election-related need.

“It also says that statewide list is only available for election purposes,” he said. “From my perspective and I can’t tell you that I’m an expert on the election law, the request by the federal commission does not involve an election.”

Campaigns already maintain reams of data on voters in effort to identify and target supporters in order to get them to come to the polls. Still, there are other avenues for gaining access to voter information by obtaining on the county level.

“The county boards of election have their own separate list of registered voters, names and addresses, among other items in many instances,” Freeman said. “As I read the election law, that list is available to anybody for any reason.”

For now it’s not clear what the commission will do to compel states to release the voter information.

Opening ADK Challenge, Cuomo Launches New Tourism Ad

Gov. Andrew Cuomo unveiled a new TV ad aimed at luring people to the Adirondacks as he opened the annual Adirondack Summer Challenge on Sunday in North Creek.

“The Adirondacks are one of New York’s most treasured resources, with exquisite natural beauty, thrilling recreational activities, and our investments to promote and enhance these assets to attract even more visitors and revenue to the region,” Cuomo said.

“To know the North Country is to love the North County and the Adirondack Challenge is a premiere showcase for all that this great region has to offer.”

Cuomo also unveiled a 30-second I Love NY ad showcasing tourism in the Adirondack Park, including the Olympic Sports Complex in Lake Placid, Whiteface Mountain and the Great Camp Sagamore.

Cuomo started the Adirondack Challenge the first year he took office to promote summer recreation in the area; a winter version of the event was added later.

Skelos, Awaiting Appeal, Dips Into Campaign For Legal Bills

Ex-Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos dipped into his campaign account this year to pay for his legal bills as he awaits word of whether his conviction on corruption charges will stand.

Records released on Friday show Skelos spent $50,000 from his account to pay Gage Spencer & Fleming, a white-collar law firm.

Despite not fundraising while he awaits word of his legal status, Skelos still has $843,301 in cash on hand.

Skelos stepped down as majority leader in 2015 after he was accused of using his office to aid the business interests of his son, Adam.

Both were convicted on felony corruption charges, forcing the elder Skelos out of office.

On Thursday, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s corruption conviction was overturned, buoying the chances that Skelos may see his reversed as well.

Judge Won’t Dismiss Maziarz Corruption Case

An Albany County judge on Friday denied a dismissal motion by former Sen. George Maziarz, setting up a trial on fraud charges in August.

“We look forward to proving our felony corruption charges against Mr. Maziarz in court next month,” said Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, whose office is prosecuting the case.

Maziarz is accused of playing a role in a “multilayered pass through scheme” that had him using campaign funds and the Niagara County Republican Committee to funnel payments to a former Senate staffer who had been accused of sexual harassment.

Maziarz served as a top ranking Republican senator from western New York until 2012, when he abruptly announced he would not seek re-election.

A separate but related case brought against Sen. Robert Ortt was dismissed in June. Ortt had been accused of obtaining a no-show job for his wife in order to make up for a pay reduction he took to become the mayor of the City of North Tonawanda.

Maziarz%2c George – Decision MTD by Nick Reisman on Scribd

IDC Builds Its War Chest

Campaign accounts associated with the Independent Democratic Conference will report a combined $4.5 million in cash hand.

That includes $1.95 million in the campaign committee of IDC Leader Jeff Klein, a Bronx lawmaker, and $1 million in the bank for the conference’s campaign committee, the Senate Independence Campaign Committee. The group’s housingkeeping committee — which can’t be used for direct campaign spending — brings the seven-member conference’s total to $4.9 million.

Klein in January reported $1.5 million in cash on hand. The conference’s campaign committee had $412,339 at the start of the year.

“The Independent Democratic Conference is proud of this major showing in support of our members,” said IDC spokeswoman Candice Giove. “We look forward to their reelection and to electing other great Democrats.”

The IDC this year is once again under scrutiny from progressive and left-leaning groups over the eight-member conference’s working relationship with the Republicans in the state Senate.

The GOP conference holds a narrow majority in the chamber with the aid of Brooklyn Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, who is aligned with Republicans.

Still, the IDC has continued to face pressure this year to reconcile with the mainline Democratic conference in the Senate, building in part over the election of Donald Trump to the White House and Republican control of the U.S. Congress.

NY-22: Tenney Raises $300K In Q2

Rep. Claudia Tenney’s re-election campaign on Friday announced she had raised $300,000 in the second quarter filing period.

All told this year Tenney has raised $600,000 in the first six months of 2017. She has a cash-on-hand total of $437,000.

Tenney was elected to the 22nd congressional district last year, replacing Rep. Richard Hanna. The district stretches from central New York to the Mohawk Valley and Southern Tier.

“I would like to thank everyone who stood with me and generously supported our campaign,” Tenney said. “The small dollar grassroots contributions always mean the most. In all my campaigns, for State Assembly, and for Congress, we’ve been outspent, but we’ve always had good, hardworking people on our side who are tired of politics as usual in New York, and Washington. Having their support, and the opportunity to fight for them is such an honor.”

Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi has announced he will challenge Tenney for a second term next year.

Report Assesses Impact Of Federal Aid On Local Governments

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Friday released a report assessing the impact of federal aid on New York’s local governments and schools districts, finding they rely on more than $11 billion combined in 2015.

“Local governments receive much-needed federal aid that supports our schools, fixes our roads and keeps our communities safe,” said DiNapoli. “But potential policy changes in Washington could have a considerable impact on local government operations. In today’s political climate, it’s important for New Yorkers to get a sense of how much funding is at stake and what programs might be at risk.”

Outside of New York City alone, local governments and school districts received $4.7 billion in direct federal aid.

New York City separately received $7 billion, with $1.7 billion toward public schools.

Federal aid as a share of total revenue was highest for county governments, some 11.2 percent. In New York City, it accounts for 10.1 percent.

The full report can be found here.

DiNapoli: Tax Cap Approaches 2 Percent

The allowable growth in property tax levies for local governments will be set at a 1.84 percent cap, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office on Friday announced.

The calculation of the cap impacts county and town governments, as well as fire districts and 44 cities and 10 villages.

“After two years of tax growth being limited to less than one percent, inflation has crept up resulting in the highest allowable levy growth since 2013,” DiNapoli said. “This increase is offset by rising fixed costs and limited budget options. I continue to urge local officials to exercise caution when crafting their spending plans.”

The state’s tax cap has been in place since 2012 and limits the rate of year-over-year increases in the amount collected in taxes to 2 percent or the rate of inflation, whichever is lower.

In the last five years, inflation has largely been flat and has never hit the 2 percent threshold.

In the 2017-18 fiscal year, property taxes were capped for school districts at 1.26 percent.

Silver’s Successor Fundraises After Conviction Reversed

From the Morning Memo:

Yuh-Line Niou, the Democratic lawmaker who holds Sheldon Silver’s lower Manhattan Assembly seat, released a fundraising appeal after the former speaker’s corruption conviction on Thursday was reversed.

“Our community is moving forward united—but I still need your help,” the fundraising email states. “We need to be ready to fight against the wealthy special interests and party bosses who are desperate to gain power again. We need to be prepared to protect our communities and fight for the changes we wish to see in our government.”

Niou had initially run for the seat after Silver was removed from office following his conviction on fraud charges, losing to Alice Cancel, who was seen as part of the former speaker’s political operation in the district.

Niou ran on the Working Families Party line in the April special election.

Later that year, Niou defeated Cancel in a Democratic primary and later won the seat in the general election.

In her fundraising note, Niou wrote a donation — suggested at $100 — would “send a message” New York is ready to pass ethics reform.

“As you know with today’s news, Sheldon Silver’s conviction was vacated, but the facts of his case remain unchanged. We know the importance of the rule of law in the age of Trump,” the email states. “No one should be above justice, and those in public service should be fighting for our community–not their own enrichment.”