Michael Scotto

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Posts by Michael Scotto

Israel to Head Up New House Messaging Post

Rep. Steve Israel looked positively giddy Monday afternoon as he handed the reins of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee over to New Mexico Rep. Ben Ray Lujan.

“If you think Ben Ray is happy, you have no idea how happy I am,” a smiling Israel said at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “This may be the happiest day in my life.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi announced Israel, who headed up the DCCC for two election cycles, will now serve as chair of policy and communications, a newly created post that will focus on crafting a message for House Democrats to use against the emboldened Republican majority.

“This new position within the Democratic leadership will bring our messaging and our policies – particularly on middle class anxieties – to a new and never before seen level for our caucus,” said Israel, who had been looking to climb the leadership ladder.

The new role is perhaps an indication that Pelosi does not blame Israel for the party’s poor Election Day performance. Those losses, including three in New York, left Republicans with their largest House majority since the 1920s.

Grimm’s Legal Defense Fund Raises $67K

Rep. Michael Grimm’s newly-established legal defense fund reports raising $67,400 last month, nearly triple what Grimm’s campaign raised during the same time period.

Grimm received donations from a mix of individuals, corporations and political action committees. A number of the donors had previously contributed to Grimm’s political campaign.

One donor to the fund was Grimm’s former father-in-law, Jhong U. Kim, who gave the maximum $5,000. Sin ah Kim, who reports living at the same address as Jhong U. Kim, also donated $5,000.

The Air Line Pilots Association PAC and the National Air Traffic Controllers PAC each donated $5,000. Both PACs have been generous contributors to Grimm’s political campaigns.

Grimm got the green light from the House Ethics Committee in early June to create a legal defense fund for legal bills associated with his April indictment.

It’s unclear how much Grimm’s attorney fees are worth, since lawmakers only have to report expenditures. The fund reported spending no money last month.

Full list of donors after the jump: More >

Grimm Hits ‘Grammatically Challenged’ Recchia in Fundraising Email

Rep. Michael Grimm is going after his opponent’s grammar and connections to liberal bogeyman Mayor de Blasio in a scathing fundraising email sent out today.

The missive comes as Grimm tries to jump start a fundraising operation that came to a half after his April indictment on a variety of charges related to a restaurant he owned prior to taking office.

In the email sent out by the Grimm campaign, Frank Aversa, the former First Vice Chair of the Staten Island Republican Party, attacks Democrat Domenic Recchia for allegedly flip-flopping on his pledge not to build low-income housing on Staten Island.

“Domenic Recchia shows himself to to be Bill de Blasio’s puppet already,” reads the first sentence of the email.

Earlier in the week, Recchia told the Observer, “Listen, we’re not building no low-income housing.” Hours later Recchia reportedly backtracked from that comment.

The Grimm campaign called the statement “grammatically challenged,” before saying Recchia “completely caved” after word got back to Mayor de Blasio, who is aggressively trying to build more affordable housing across the five boroughs.

“Obviously, Recchia is deeply uncomfortable opposing de Blasio, his longtime pal,” reads the email. “Which makes sense since Recchia voted with de Blasio over 99% of the time when they were Brooklyn councilmen together.”

Linking the two together makes sense. De Blasio is not the most popular politician on Staten Island. He lost the borough in his otherwise landslide victory last November.

The Recchia campaign, which clobbered Grimm in fundraising last month, brushed off the attack.

“We won’t comment on Congressman Grimm’s desperate and underhanded tactics to try and distract from his indictment,” said Recchia spokeswoman Sarah Weinstein.


Israel Considers Grimm Race a Toss Up

Rep. Michael Grimm isn’t running under the best of circumstances, but Washington Democrats think the embattled Staten Island Congressman still has a shot at winning the race.

During a conference call with reporters, Rep. Steve Israel, the head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, described the race between Grimm and Former Brooklyn City Councilman Domenic Recchia as a “toss up.”

“The conventional wisdom is that that race now is a lean D,” said Israel. “I don’t see it as a lean D. I actually see it as a true toss-up, so that’s going to be a national battleground.”

Analysts like Cook Political Report moved the race to “Lean Democrat” after Grimm was indicted in April on federal fraud charges related to a business he owned prior to taking office.

Since that indictment, Grimm has seen national Republicans abandon him, his campaign manager quit and his fundraising plummet.

According to Federal Election Commission filings released yesterday, Grimm raised less than $24,000 last month. Recchia raised nearly $262,000 during the same time period.

That said, Grimm reported having a little more than $1 million left in the bank at the end of last month, just slightly less than what Recchia had on hand.

Grimm is also well-liked by voters, in part because he lives on Staten Island and not in Brooklyn, which makes up just a small part of the district. That distinction could help him tremendously against Recchia, who lives across the Verrazano in Gravesend.




Updated: Grimm’s Fundraising Tanks

Rep. Michael Grimm’s fundraising has dried up since his April indictment.

According to Federal Election Commission filings released Tuesday, the embattled congressman raised less than $24,000 last month.

He spent just $13,000.

Grimm still has more than $1 million left in the bank, though his legal debt is north of $400,000.

Grimm’s fundraising came to a halt after he was indicted in April on various fraud charges related to a business he owned prior to taking office. That indictment led to his being abandoned by the National Republican Congressional Committee.

In addition to trying to stay in office, Grimm is attempting to raise money to pay off his mounting legal bills. Last month, the House Ethics Committee approved Grimm’s request for a legal defense fund. Grimm is expected to report later this month how much money that fund has been able to raise.

As for who is contributing to Grimm’s political campaign? Here’s the list.

Grimm’s Democratic opponent, Domenic Recchia, is expected to file his fundraising report with the FEC later today.


Recchia’s numbers are out. The former New York City Councilman raised $261,693 last month, eleven times what Grimm brought in. During that time period, Recchia spent nearly $56,000. He has nearly $1.3 million in the bank.

Update Part Two:

Grimm’s campaign sent us a statement from the congressman, in which he hits Recchia and claims his fundraising is where it needs to be.

“My campaign has been fundraising aggressively for the past year and we are absolutely on track and where we need to be,” said Grimm. “My support is based on my achievements in Congress…from major flood insurance reform that drove down massive premiums to $60 billion in Superstorm Sandy aid. However, my opponent’s funding comes from months of desperate seat shopping among the City’s ultra-liberal elite…first he wanted to be Comptroller, then Brooklyn Borough President, now he thinks Staten Island is his last resort? He’s in for a rude awakening when his entire record is against their interests: from voting to raise property taxes 18.5%, to supporting more tolls to enter Manhattan, to ignoring the people’s will and voting himself a third term in the City Council.”

Rodriguez Endorses Espaillat, His Political Club Stays Neutral

East Harlem Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez made his switch to Adriano Espaillat’s campaign official today.

At an event in his district, Rodriguez formally endorsed Espaillat over Rep. Charlie Rangel in the heated race for the 13th congressional district.

But in an interesting twist, Rodriguez’s home club will not be following suit.

After what was described as a “lively discussion” Wednesday night, the Arturo Schomburg Democratic Club voted to stay out of the race, according to people who attended the meeting.

In 2012, both the club and Rodriguez were behind Rangel.

But things are a lot different this year.

In addition to Rodriguez now being an Espaillat supporter, the club’s president, Nina Saxon, is employed by City Comptroller Scott Stringer, who is also backing the state senator’s bid to unseat Rangel.

Those factors combined with Rangel’s long history in the neighborhood likely made it too complicated for the group to take a stand.

Throughout the campaign, Rangel has been engaged in a bitter battle with Espaillat to shore up East Harlem support. In 2012, the neighborhood was crucial to Rangel’s reelection.

In a sign of how fluid – not to mention contentious – the race is, East Harlem District Leader Peggy Morales switched her endorsement last weekend from Espaillat to Rangel.

Espaillat Supporter Now Backs Rangel

The race to shore up support ahead of this June’s heated Democratic primary for the 13th Congressional District has taken an unexpected turn.

A Charlie Rangel supporter turned Adriano Espaillat booster has announced she is going back to team Rangel.

East Harlem district leader Peggy Morales, who endorsed Espaillat in March after backing Rangel in 2012, tells me that she decided this weekend to rescind her endorsement after she claims the Espaillat team failed to follow through on some promises.

Specifically, Morales says the Espaillat campaign broke their pledge to name her or another East Harlem resident to the congressional candidate’s Committee to Fill Vacancies.

“No respect was being shown,” Morales said, adding that she personally admires Espaillat.

The Espaillat campaign declined to comment.

Though Morales insists neither the Rangel campaign nor anyone supporting it pressured her to switch her endorsement, the decision does come as a surprise. It was less than two months ago that Morales announced she would be backing Espaillat.

At the time, Morales suggested that Rangel wasn’t focusing enough attention on East Harlem.

“We need to get someone who is fresh who is new and who will take the chance and focus a little bit more on the East Harlem community, which in my opinion has been ignored by the Harlem machinery…in favor of Central Harlem,” Morales told DNAinfo in March.

East Harlem proved pivotal to Rangel’s 2012 victory.

But this year, Rangel has had to contend with some high-profile backers going to team Espaillat.

Earlier this year, City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito decided to back Espaillat. East Harlem Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez is expected to follow suit as early as this week.

“There is a divide,” Morales said, referring to the split East Harlem support. “It’s not what we prefer.”


Rodriguez to Switch Sides, Endorse Espaillat

Another one of Rep. Charles Rangel’s 2012 supporters is switching sides and endorsing State Senator Adriano Espaillat.

A source tells me that East Harlem Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez plans to formally announce his support for Espaillat next week.

The endorsement is not good news for Rangel, who is trying to hold onto his seat for a 23rd – and he says final – two-year term.

In 2012, Rangel’s victory in East Harlem proved crucial to his narrowly winning re-election.

But back then he had the support of Rodriguez and City Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito, who was elevated to speaker earlier this year. Now Rodriguez and Mark-Viverito are in Espaillat’s court.

This week Rangel did win the backing of Former President Bill Clinton and the city’s largest municipal workers union, DC 37.

“Throughout his 23 terms in office, Congressman Rangel has always aided our struggles to protect the jobs of public employees and the safety-net services they provide,” DC 37 Executive Director Lillian Roberts said in a statement. 

“Going forward, we know that with him on our side we can go a long way in our fight against income inequality and our fight for workers’ rights, affordable housing, decent wages, public education, immigration reform and more.”

Rangel has been locked in a tough primary fight against Espaillat and Harlem Pastor Michael Walrond. The late addition of another candidate, Bronx community activist Yolanda Garcia, could prove problematic for Espaillat (assuming she manages to stay on the ballot) by splitting the Hispanic vote.

Maloney Outraises Hayworth

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney continued to bring in more campaign cash than his rival Nan Hayworth.

According to the latest filings with the Federal Election Commission, Maloney raised a little more than $472,000 this past quarter. After expenses, Maloney was left with about $1.5 million in the bank.

Hayworth raised nearly $282,000. She has about $663,000 cash on hand.

Maloney and Hayworth are locked in a contentious battle this election season, as Hayworth tries to regain the congressional seat she lost to Maloney in 2012.

Maloney’s haul included a little more than $113,000 from political action committees. About $56,000 of Hayworth’s total contributions came from PACs, including $5,000 from Rep. Paul Ryan’s “Prosperity PAC.”

You can bet the Maloney campaign is going to seize on that fact, as they try to attach Hayworth to Ryan’s budget proposal, which calls for drastic cuts to government spending.

Hayworth did not report loaning her campaign any of her personal fortune in the period ending March 31.



Walrond Gains Support of Early de Blasio backer

Mayor de Blasio has not made an endorsement in the Harlem congressional race, but one of the Mayor’s early backers last year is throwing its support behind one of Congressman Charles Rangel’s opponents.

In a press release, the group New York Communities for Change endorsed Pastor Michael Walrond.

To make its point about being close to de Blasio, the group gave its announcement the not-so-subtle headline: “Powerful Community Group and de Blasio Supporter Endorses Walrond for Congress from the 13th District.”

The organization cited Walrond’s support for de Blasio’s decision to block a powerful charter school from sharing space with a traditional Harlem public school as one of the reasons for its endorsement.

The endorsement comes a day before Walrond will debate Rangel and State Senator Adriano Espaillat for the first time. The event is being held at the Abyssinian Baptist Church.

In recent days, Rangel has been trying to bolster his institutional support, with endorsements from Senator Charles Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.