Congress

House Ethics Defers On Grimm – Again

For the third time since 2012, the House Ethics Committee has deferred its investigation into Republican Rep. Michael Grimm’s fundraising at the request of the US Justice Department.

Grimm, a former FBI agent, continues to be under federal investigation despite the fact that he is facing a 20-count indictment that alleges he broke a bevvy of rules while running a Manhattan restaurant prior to his election to Congress in 2010.

The congressman won a third term this past fall despite his legal troubles, largely due to the incredibly flawed candidacy of his Democratic challenger, former NYC Councilman Domenic Recchia. Grimm, who beat Recchia by 13 percentage points, ran without any aid from his party, receiving support from his Republican base on Staten Island – Democrat-dominated NYC’s lone bastion of conservatism.

This past October, a judge delayed the start of Grimm’s trial on charges of wire and mail fraud until February. But prosecutors said that if Grimm’s attorneys seeks to dismiss three charges against him — two counts of perjury and one of obstruction — because they occurred outside the jurisdiction of the Brooklyn court, the U.S. government would reintroduce them in Manhattan.

House Ethics Committee again defers Rep. Grimm investigation. by liz_benjamin6490

Slaughter 2016?

Despite surviving the toughest re-election battle of her career this fall – a surprisingly close fight with little known and under-funded Republican Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini – Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter is not ruling out seeking a 16th term in 2016.

Slaughter, 85, said last night during a CapTon interview that her near loss to Assini did not cause her to reassess her future.

“Not a whit; not a bit,” the veteran NY-25 representative said.

Slaughter admitted she “could have done a better job” during this election cycle, though she suggested her weak spot was “messaging” and not necessarily a failure to perform on behalf of her district.

Asked if she’ll run again in two years, the congresswoman, who recently lost her husband and has been reluctant to discuss when – and if – she might retire from public life, responded:

“Look, I plan on doing the very best job I can.”

“The way I see this, Liz, is I work as hard as I can for two years, doing everything I can for my constituents and my district, and then put myself up for them to judge whether they think that’s good or not.”

“You know, when people talk about term limits, that’s the ultimate term limit. It’s up to the constituents.”

Slaughter was widely expected to face her toughest challenge two years ago after redistricting placed almost all of Monroe County into NY-25 and spurred the local county executive and GOP rising star, Maggie Brooks, to throw her hat into the ring.

After a multimillion dollar campaign, Slaughter emerged victorious.

She was not viewed as vulnerable this year. But a combination of lingering anger upstate over the SAFE Act and low turnout proved toxic for Slaughter, providing an in for Assini.

The 2016 race will have a very different dynamic, thanks to a wide open presidential race that will boost turnout in this Democrat-dominated state – especially Westchester County resident Hillary Clinton is the party’s nominee.

Assini has managed to raise his profile considerably, however. If he decides to run again in two years, he will no doubt receive at least some support from the state and national Republican parties – a far cry from the under-the-radar campaign he ran this past year.

Reed On Immigration: Fight Executive Action ‘By Policy’

While some Republicans in Congress are promising to block President Obama from taking action in immigration reform through an executive order, Western New York Congressman Tom Reed is taking a different approach.

“It’s best, in my opinion, to fight the President’s executive action by policy,” Reed said.

Reed, like other Republicans, believes granting “amnesty” could derail any efforts to pass a bipartisan immigration reform bill.  Rather than simply stopping the President and Democrats in Congress, Reed is calling for action.

“I think there’s broad consensus within the GOP conference that the current immigration rules for America are broken and need to be reformed.  And this is an opportunity for us to do it and let’s seize the opportunity,” said Reed.

Reed didn’t release any specifics but is calling for a conservative immigration reform package that would stand in contrast to a 10-point executive order the President is expected to roll out next week.

“We have the better policy in my opinion and that’s what we need to bring to the American people and have the American people engage in this process,” said Reed.

When asked if his plan would include a path to citizenship, Reed said there could be some “middle ground.”

“Not a path to citizenship for those who violated the law.  For kids, there’s a potential for a path to citizenship for them, but when we’re talking about rewarding illegal behavior and granting amnesty,” Reed said. “That’s just a non starter and I think that’s where the division comes from, but we can solve this.”

Republicans are considering everything from defunding the specific initiatives in the President’s anticipated executive order, to taking legal action, and even shutting down the government.  Incoming Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell downplayed a government shutdown.

Assini Concedes; Louise Slaughter Re-Elected To Congress

After a final tally of absentee and affidavit ballots, long-time Congresswoman Louise Slaughter will spend another term representing New York’s 25th District in Congress.

The final tally Wednesday showed Slaughter ahead of Republican Mark Assini by 869 votes in the Rochester-area district, 96,800 to 95,631.

That number is up for Slaughter, who led Assini by about 600 votes at the end of election night, making the race too close to call at that time.

Shortly after the final number was announced Wednesday afternoon, Assini reportedly called Slaughter to congratulate her and concede.

There are a handful of votes still to be counted from military voters, but they aren’t expected to make a difference in the race’s outcome.

The 85-year-old Slaughter has served in Congress since her first election in 1986, making this her 15th term in Congress.

Schumer’s Dinner Diplomacy

New York’s senior senator isn’t psyched about the idea of being back in the minority after serving as one of the most powerful men in the Democrat-controlled upper house.

But Sen. Chuck Schumer is going to make the best of it.

He says he plans to reach across the aisle to forge relationships with some of the new members of the state’s GOP congressional delegation.

He’ll start with Congresswoman-elect Elise Stefanik, who won the NY-21 seat currently held by retiring Democratic Rep. Bill Owens in a landslide last Tuesday, making her – at just 30 years old – the youngest woman ever to sit in the House.

“She was in college with my daughter and they were friends,” Schumer said of Stefanik during a stop in Albany yesterday. “So, we start on a good note there.”

“My daughter spoke very highly of her. In fact, not only is she going to come to the office, but her and my daughter are going to have dinner in the next few weeks in Washington.”

“I haven’t asked Ms. Stefanik yet,” the senator said. “We’ve agreed to get together, but we’re going to make it a dinner and invite my daughter. I’m sure they’ll have no objection because they’re friends.”

No word on where this bipartisan dining experience might take place, though the senator’s past fondness for D.C.’s Hunan Dynasty has been widely documented.

Also, for the record: Jessica Schumer and Stefanik attended Harvard, which is also the senator’s alma mater.

Schumer said he has also spoken to Congressman-elect John Katko, who ousted Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei in NY-24, and found the former federal prosecutor to be a “very fine individual.”

The senator said he had a “great relationship” with former Rep. Jim Walsh, the moderate Republican who held the Central NY seat before Maffei.

“Jim Walsh and I were able to do a whole lot for Syracuse,” Schumer recalled. “He’s a Republican, I’m a Democrat. I think the same will be with Mr. Katko. He seems like a fine man.”

“We’re going to meet in my office in the next week in Washington and start going over how we can go over to help Central New York and his congressional district. I look forward to working with him, I think he’s a good guy.”

Schumer: Politics Won’t Affect Lynch Nomination

Senator Chuck Schumer, Monday, said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch should sail through the approval process in January regardless of a Republican-dominated Senate.

This comes as some top Republican lawmakers in the Senate are calling on Lynch to say whether she would support executive action from the president on immigration reform or not.

The President has said more than once in the past week that he’s planning to use executive action to push immigration reform into law. Lynch’s position on that move could put a bump in the road for her nomination.

But Schumer says her record as U.S. Attorney should smooth over any political issues.

“She’s a professional. She hasn’t been involved in any of the political wars, so I think that should avoid some of the controversy.”

The president officially announced his nomination of Lynch Saturday. Since, Republican lawmakers have requested more time to look at her record and qualifications before voting on her appointment.

Schumer said Republicans have requested that delay to extend into the new session, when Republicans have a clear majority in the Senate.

“Our Republican colleagues have asked for a little more time and asked to do it in the new session of Congress and I don’t see anything wrong with that because I think she’s non-controversial and the more people look at her record, the more comfortable they will feel.”

Lynch has already been approved twice by the Senate for her post as U.S. Attorney for New York’s Eastern Judicial District. One of those times, there were more Republicans in the Senate then there are now. The other – Democrats held the majority.

Update In NY-25

Last night’s big surprise was the near upset in NY-25, where little known Republican Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini was within 605 votes of toppling 14-term veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter.

Our colleagues at TWC News Rochester tell us there are 3,300 absentee ballots, which does include the hand count ballots (military ballots submitted online, then subsequently printed out and mailed in).

Local elections officials counted about 2,500 of the 3,300 absentees last night, but those votes were NOT included in the unofficial total.

Also, there are roughly 2,100 ballots that will be released today that were secured as part of the 55th SD race – the one in which Republican Rich Funke defeated Democratic freshman Sen. Ted O’Brien – which is inside NY-25. Those ballots will be counted today. O’Brien’s campaign successfully sought an impoundment order that prevented those ballots from being counted last night.

So, all told there are roughly 5,400 ballots outstanding that once all of them have been counted, reviewed and verified, will eventually be added to the final voter turnout results. This process could be completed by the end of the week. UPDATE: We’re now told that most of the absentee ballots will be opened at 2 p.m. today, and the counting will start at 4 p.m.

Slaughter last night insisted she is the winner in NY-25, and she remained unconcerned by both her slim lead and the several thousand votes that are yet uncounted.

Assini refused to concede the race. Observers attributed his stronger than expected performance to a wave of anti-incumbent (especially Democratic incumbents) sentiment that swept the nation yesterday and helped Republicans both expand their majority in the House and re-take control of the US Senate.

While insiders and observers were surprised by the strength of Assini’s campaign, he did not seem at all taken aback by it, saying: “I knew, but I don’t think the other side knew it until the end. We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of heart and a lot of people supporting us, and the voters gave me a chance.”

Two years ago, after NY-25′s district lines were redrawn to include all of Monroe County, Slaughter was faced her strongest challenge in decades from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, a Republican whose name recognition in her base equals that of the veteran congresswoman.

Millions of dollars were spent on that race, Slaughter won handily with 57 percent of the vote. This year, the nonpartisan Cook Political Reports rated the district as one of 161 solidly Democratic House seats around the nation.

Hayworth Concedes In NY-18

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney’s campaign announced that the Democratic congressman’s Republican opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, has conceded the NY-18 race.

It’s Hayworth’s second loss in a row to Maloney. He also defeated her in a close race two years ago when she was the incumbent and her was the upstart challenger, bouyed by a boost in turnout in a presidential election year.

Since then, Maloney has focused on building a record as a pragmatist who is willing to both vote against his party when necessary and reach across the aisle to work with Republicans to get things done. A number of Republican elected officials – including state Sen. Bill Larkin, a veteran GOP lawmaker and well-respected military veteran – crossed party lines this year to endorse Maloney.

(To be fair, Hayworth had her share of party line-crossing Democratic endorsers – most notably Gwen Johnson, an African-American Dutchess County legislator from the city of Poughkeepsie. Johnson appeared in an ad for Hayworth during the campaign and also attended her election night watch party).

Polls showed the NY-18 battle would be a tight one heading into yesterday, with both sides – and their respective outside supporters – spending millions of dollars on TV ads and mailers (many of the negative) in an effort to influence the outcome.

Hayworth had an early win when she defeated Maloney in a very low turnout September primary for the Independence Party line. A SoP reader who has been keeping track of votes in the Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel in Orange County said it looks like the support for the congressman by one of the village’s two political factions netted him about 5,000 votes (in other words, more than Maloney’s margin of victory – this number has been fixed).

Maloney declared victory last night after the initial count showed him leading Hayworth by 2,790 votes, but the former congressmanwoman initially refused to concede. Maloney scheduled a noon press conference today to discuss his win, but the event was moved back to 12:45 p.m. The congressman’s campaign confirmed Hayworth’s call was the reason behind the delay.

Despite New York’s Democratic voter enrollment edge, there were a number of contested congressional contests both this year and in 2012 – thanks to the slightly less gerrymandered redistricting map created by a court and not state lawmakers. Republicans have picked up three seats here - Long Island’s NY-1, where state Sen. Lee Zeldin ousted Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop; Central New York’s NY-24, where former federal prosecutor John Katko defeated Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei; and the North Country’s NY-21, where Elise Stefanik became the youngest woman ever elected to the House.

Three seats is the biggest one-state pick-up the House GOP accomplished as it easily retained control of the majority and expanded its reach, wining 14 seats – and counting. There might be another upset win here in New York, too, if Gates Town Supervisor Mark Assini defeats veteran Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter in Monroe County’s NY-25 in what’s currently a too-close-to-call race.

The GOP’s success in the home state of DCCC Chair Steve Israel is a pretty big embarrassment to the Long Island congressman.

Maffei Ad Defends Family Against ‘Personal Attacks’

On the heels of a poll that shows he has lost the lead in his re-election bid, Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei has released a new TV ad featuring his wife and newborn daughter that slams his Republican opponent, John Katko, for making “personal attacks on my family.”

“Rep. Dan Maffei grew up in Central New York, on the East Side of Syracuse, and is committed to making the middle class in Central New York stronger,” said the congressman’s campaign manager Kane Miller, campaign manager. “He couldn’t be more proud of his wife Abby, her career, and their daughter Maya. He will continue to stand up for his family and middle class families across Central New York, and will never allow personal attacks from John Katko or anyone else about his family.”

The decision by Maffei and his wife to purchase a $700,000 home in the D.C. suburbs this past spring, coupled with the fact that Abby Maffei split her time between Syracuse and D.C. for her job at CARE, an international humanitarian group that fight global poverty, and that the couple’s daughter was born in a D.C. hospital have all become fodder throughout the campaign for Katko, who has questioned the congressman’s dedication to the district.

Maffei took issue with this line of attack during a TWC News debate in Syracuse this week, saying his wife and daughter should be ”out of bounds” - even though he has included them in his campaign literature and ads (like this one, for example). The congressman said the birth of his daughter in D.C. enabled him to “make every single vote for this congressional district while I was being a good  father.”

He said the baby is now in New York, where he is spending all of his time campaigning to keep the seat he first won in 2008, lost in 2010 (to former Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle) and then won back (from Buerkle) in 2012.

Here’s the transcript of Maffei’s new ad, which starts airing this week on stations across NY-24: