2014

Cahill Fundraises Off Moreland Controversy (Updated)

Republican candidate for attorney general John Cahill’s campaign on Wednesday sent out a fundraising email that ties incumbent Democrat Eric Schneiderman to the ongoing Moreland Commission mess.

In the email, Cahill’s fundraising team writes that Schneiderman has “done little to fight the corruption” — a claim the AG’s office would likely dispute, considering its high-profile corruption case brought against ex-state Sen. Shirley Huntley.

“While Eric Schneiderman continues to run from the press, I am running a hard-hitting campaign to defeat him this November,” Cahill’s campaign writes in the email. “If you’re sick and tired of corrupt politicians, support my campaign with a contribution of $10, $35, $50, $100, $250, or another amount to hold Eric Schneiderman accountable for his failures.”

The fundraising note is yet another sign that Republican candidates — including gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino and comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci — are trying to capitalize on the Moreland Commission controversy and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office’s involvement in the anti-corruption panel.

“As the Republican candidate for Attorney General, I will restore integrity, confidence, and action to this important office,” the email says. “New Yorkers WILL know my name because I will be their voice. Stand with me today so we can reclaim this office for the people of New York.”

In a dig at Schneiderman’s record, the email adds: “We wouldn’t need a Moreland Commission to root out public corruption if we had a real Attorney General!”

Cahill this month reported having raised $1 million since starting his campaign in May. Schneiderman reported raising $2.6 million over the last six months, and has already reserved two large chunks of advertising time ahead of the November elections.

Updated: Schneiderman campaign spokesman Peter Ajemian sent along a response pointing to the AG’s efforts to combat public corruption while in office.

“No Attorney General in New York State history has been as aggressive in cracking down on public corruption as Attorney General Schneiderman, who has in less than four years prosecuted forty politicians, government employees and nonprofit officials who abused the public trust — including legislators from his own party. Just last week, Attorney General Schneiderman sentenced a politically well-connected nonprofit leader to years in jail for looting state funds,” he said. “He’s done all this despite the absence of original jurisdiction covering public corruption — a statutory weakness he’s fought to change — and helped overcome that constraint through an innovative and unprecedented partnership with the State Comptroller, Operation Integrity. All of which leaves one to ask, simply: where on earth has John Cahill been on any of these issues?”

Astorino Not Buying Cuomo’s Definition Of ‘Interference’

Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino on Tuesday scoffed at Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation for his office’s handling of the Moreland Commission, which the incumbent Democrat has insisted was “advice” and not undue interference.

“We didn’t get the straight talk we deserve yesterday,” Astorino said. “We got more dancing around the topic, more lies quite frankly and we heard more different ways to speak of what might actually happen than we should get.”

At a news conference outside of the state Capitol in Albany, Astorino held up a bottle of Clorox bleach as a sign the town could use some “disinfectant.”

“I think nothing better than a little bleach and maybe a little disinfectant will do wonders here,” Astorino said.

The GOP gubernatorial nominee embarked on a multi-city tour of upstate this week to highlight Cuomo’s Moreland Commission controversy, which was renewed last week following an extensive New York Times story.

Astorino has sought to capitalize on the reported interference from Cuomo’s office, which attempted to direct subpoenas away from politically sensitive areas for the governor.

Cuomo on Monday in his first public remarks on the issue insisted his office did not provide any inappropriate influence on the anti-corruption panel.

But Astorino says there is more to the Moreland story than just Cuomo’s response.

“Andrew Cuomo said he would drain the cesspool and do wonders here,” he said. “Right now, he did a deep dive and he’s swimming in that cesspool.”

He also disputed Cuomo’s definition of “interference.” Cuomo insisted the commission was independent because it didn’t act on the efforts by his top aide, Larry Schwartz, to not send a subpoena to a media buying firm that included the governor among its clients.

“Just definition of interference — I’ll read the definition — because it says exactly what it is,” Astorino said. “I mean, what was it? Attempted interference and because it didn’t work, it wasn’t interference?”

State Democrats: Astorino Failed To Capitalize On Moreland Mess

The state Democratic Committee on Tuesday argued Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino failed to gain any advantage over the last few days despite the controversy surrounding Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission.

The state Democrats point to three separate issues that hit Astorino, two of them unforced errors:

  • Astorino compared Cuomo to a “mafia boss” when it came to leaning on the Moreland Commission. The comment then led to Democrats and an Italian American group to roundly blast the comparison as offensive. Astorino in a radio interview this morning on Talk-1300 dismissed the complaints, joking next time he’ll make a “Wizard of Oz” reference.
  • The independent Politifact labeled Astorino’s claim that New York’s post-recession recovery is the worst in the nation as “false.” The Republican’s campaign acknowledged the error and said it would stop reiterating that claim.
  • And Astorino is being deposed in a long-standing and complicated Westchester housing discrimination case — a dispute between the county and federal government Democrats pounced on soon after Astorino announced his campaign.

“Mondays are the worst. On the same day Republican Rob Astorino attempted to go on the offensive, he tripped over his own feet and fell backward into the muck,” said state Democratic Committee spokesman James Freedland. “First he was roundly criticized for using ethic stereotypes to attack the Governor, then a judge ordered him to be deposed under oath in a housing discrimination lawsuit brought on by his willful violations of federal law, and, to top it all off, a nationally recognized fact-checking group called him a liar for falsely trashing the State of New York. Any way you slice it, Republican Rob Astorino had another bad day and proved exactly why this gang that can’t shoot straight is gaining zero traction.”

Nevertheless, the spotlight in many ways remains on Cuomo and his handling of the anti-corruption commission, which continues to be lambasted on “Morning Joe” and in editorial boards throughout the state.

Astorino: ‘Uptick’ In Fundraising Since Moreland Story

There’s been a “tremendous uptick” in his fundraising since The New York Times detailed last week Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office’s involvement in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption, GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino said.

“People not just in New York but around the country are beginning to take notice,” Astorino said on Fred Dicker’s Talk-1300. “They’re starting to see this as a winnable race.”

Astorino last week said he secured the backing of Republican governors Rick Perry and Bobby Jindal, even as New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the head of the Republican Governors Association, has indicated he has no plans to campaign or financially aid the GOP candidate’s campaign.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, has sought to capitalize in recent days on Cuomo’s Moreland troubles, releasing an online video criticizing the incumbent’s handling of the anti-corruption panel.

He also launched a multi-city tour with his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, to knock Cuomo’s ethics record.

Astorino pointed out Cuomo’s been sharply criticized by MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program

“This is coming from the left and really exposing Cuomo and driving this story home,” Astorino said.

His efforts to gain some traction from the Moreland controversy have not been without missteps.

Democrats blasted Astorino for comparing Cuomo’s claims his office was making a “suggestion” to the commission to a “a mafia boss coming forward and saying he wants to make a suggestion — an offer you can’t refuse.”

Astorino shrugged off that criticism.

“Give me a break,” he said. “Next time I guess I’ll quote from the Wizard of Oz.”

A reader skeptical of Astorino’s fundraising claims notes the GOP hopeful has made such predictions before that have fallen short.

Democrats Knock Astorino’s ‘Mafia Boss’ Comparison

Gov. Andrew Cuomo acted like a “mafia boss” when his office sought to provide input on the directions of subpoenas from the Moreland Commission, GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino said in Syracuse.

“The public deserves straight-up answers,” Astorino said. “To suggest — he was suggesting to the commission members where they should go with an investigation is like a mafia boss coming forward and saying he wants to make a suggestion — an offer you can’t refuse. That clearly is intimidation and that’s what he and his staff did.”

The remark drew a swift rebuke from Democrats, who said the comparison was an offensive one to make toward an Italian-American officeholder.

Joe Morelle, the Democratic Monroe County chairman and Assembly majority leader who has close ties to Cuomo, blasted the comments, saying Astorino should be “ashamed of himself.”

“His comments are insulting and degrading to both the Governor and a state that boasts a proud Italian-American heritage. New York’s Italian-American’s are good, honest, working citizens who have contributed immensely to the cultural, social and economic development of our state,” Morelle said in a statement.

The comment is also a sore, personal subject for the Cuomo family. The governor’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, was dogged by unfounded rumors of ties to the Italian mob. In 1992, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton made a similar jibe at Mario Cuomo which was said in private.

Asked about the mafia comparison, Astorino said it was a joke, and noted he’s also Italian.

“It’s a typical joke,” Astorino said. “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse, right? He’s saying he made an offer to help. I think they would say that’d be intimidation. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a direct threat or an order to do that.”

Cuomo today in Buffalo insisted his office did not interfere in the Moreland Commission’s work, but acknowledged his top aide to offer “advice” to the anti-corruption panel.

Teachout Wants AG To Investigate Cuomo’s Moreland Involvement

Fordham Law professor and Democratic candidate for governor Zephyr Teachout wants Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to continue the Moreland Commission’s anti-corruption investigation and expand its scope to include probing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s role in the panel.

Teachout sent a letter to Schneiderman asking him to continue Moreland’s work, noting the panel may not have officially ended since no executive order was issued to do so.

“This was a referral to the Attorney General’s office, not just a Moreland Commission.” Teachout said. “The Executive Order changed the nature of the investigation. Counter to what the Governor may say or want, he can’t just declare an Attorney General investigation over.”

Schneiderman granted commission members the power of deputy attorneys general, an added component to the panel that, in theory, gave them the ability to investigate the Legislature and removed separation-of-powers concerns.

But the deputizing of the commission has led some to question whether Cuomo and his office’s efforts to direct or block subpoenas may have abused that power from the attorney general’s office.

Cuomo today in Buffalo insisted the commission was independent and that his office offered “advice” to the commission that wasn’t picked up on.

“The Governor has refused to explain why the actions of his aide were in the public interest, he has not fired that aide, and he has not resigned,” Teachout said. “A continued investigation by the Attorney General is essential for restoring public trust at this point.” Teachout said. “We cannot be entirely dependent on federal prosecutors to protect New Yorkers from corruption in state government.”

 

Comptroller Candidate: Why Is Moreland Director Still On Payroll?

Republican candidate for state comptroller Bob Antonacci is pushing Democratic incumbent Tom DiNapoli to stop paying Regina Calcaterra, the executive director of the now-defunct Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

Calcaterra, who earns $175,000 a year, is still on the executive chamber’s payroll, though the commission ended in April following an ethics agreement in the state budget.

Antonacci said DiNapoli should stop approving checks to Calcaterra.

“Every two weeks, the Executive Director of the now-defunct Moreland Commission receives a check for nearly seven thousand dollars courtesy of state taxpayers for work she is no longer doing. The Governor should either show her the door or Mr. DiNapoli should refuse payment on those checks. It’s an insult to hardworking taxpayers that she continues to be paid,” Antonacci said.

Antonacci, the comptroller of Onondaga County, previously called on DiNapoli to launch an audit of the Moreland Commission’s spending.

DiNapoli’s office has said it won’t get in the way of any federal review of the commission’s work that may be going on.

Hochul: Moreland Concerns ‘Hard To Fathom’

Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor Kathy Hochul on Monday said it was “hard to fathom” why observers would find it improper that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office sought to play a role in the work of the subpoena-empowered Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

Hochul, in Lake George earlier this morning to meet with local officials, told Time Warner Cable News that Cuomo wanted to tackle corruption in Albany when he took office in 2011 in order to turn around state government’s poor reputation.

She reiterated much of what Cuomo has said: He created the commission, and it reports back to him.

“He created a commission to start tackling these challenges because when he came to Albany, it had such a negative reputation for all these ethical violations and he felt he needed to do something about it. I admire that,” Hochul said. “The commission functioned, it reports to the governor, it was created by the governor. So any thought that involvement with the governor’s office or conversations is improper, it’s really hard to fathom where that comes from to be honest with you.”

Cuomo, in Buffalo this morning, gave a lengthy defense of the Moreland Commission’s work, insisting that while his office sought input on the panel, the commission’s members demonstrated independence by not heeding the request from secretary to the governor Larry Schwartz to claw back a subpoena.

Astorino Spot: New Yorkers ‘Burned Again’ By Cuomo

A 30-second advertisement released online this morning by GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino blasts incumbent Democrat Andrew Cuomo for his meddling in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

The ad is the latest sign Astorino, who is behind in both public opinion polls and fundraising, is trying to gain some traction and capitalize off of Cuomo’s troubles with the commission.

In the ad, a narrator cites The New York Times story last week that detailed the level of involvement from Cuomo’s office, including his top aide’s efforts to direct subpoenas from the anti-corruption panel.

“New York voters trusted Andrew Cuomo to clean up Albany,” the ad says. “Now he’s at the center of the biggest corruption scandal in years.”

The spot seems to go after Cuomo’s biggest perceived strength heading into his re-election — namely that he was a different kind of politician when he was elected in 2010.

Andrew Cuomo: Another phony. Another Albany politician in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors,” the ad says.

Burned again – 30 Sec from Rob Astorino on Vimeo.

Astorino Campaign Prods Cuomo Into Commenting On Moreland

The campaign of Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino spent the day — with some relish — prodding Gov. Andrew Cuomo into making a public appearance to discuss The New York Times story detailing his involvement in the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption.

A sarcasm-laden statement from Astorino spokeswoman Jessica Proud expressed faux concern for the governor’s whereabouts.

“Is anyone else concerned that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has gone missing for the past three days? Has an All Points Bulletin (APB) been issued? The governor’s whereabouts have been unknown since…well…since that blockbuster, A1 New York Times story came out on Tuesday about interference with a New York anti-corruption commission,” she said. “It’s an unusual thing, a governor going missing for three days. Isn’t it? Should someone be alerted?”

Astorino himself has been pretty busy, appearing both on MSNBC’s All In With Chris Hayes — a liberal antagonist of the governor’s — as well as Fox and Friends this morning.

Cuomo’s public schedule has him in New York City today, with nothing public planned.

There has been a noticeable uptick in the number of news releases sent out by the governor’s office since Wednesday, the day the Times’ story was published.

Cuomo today signed measure that would approve a new symbol to denote wheelchair accessibility, and he dispatched forest rangers to help fight brush fires in Oregon.

A chart released by NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney shows news releases from Cuomo’s office in the Wednesday through Friday period are at one of the highest rates of the year — at least 22 since the early afternoon.