Congress

Judge Nixes Grimm’s Euoprean Travel Request

A federal judge has rejected frormer Rep. Michael Grimm’s request to modify the terms of his bail so he could travel to Europe this spring for a job opportunity while awaiting sentencing on his tax fraud conviction.

Judge Pamela Chen determined that the ex-Staten Island lawmaker is too much of a flight risk to be allowed to leave the country for a week, which would open the possibility that he would travel still further to a country that does not have an extradition agreement with the US.

“Even though Grimm has posted his home as security for his pre-sentence release bond, the Court does not find that the loss of that property provides sufficient suasion if Grimm decides to leave the United States to avoid a possible prison term,” Chen wrote.

“Obviously, if Grimm chose to flee, he would not need a house in the United States. Furthermore, the Court does not find the reason for Grimm’s motion, i.e., to qualify for a potential job opportunity, sufficient to justify lifting the travel restriction. While Grimm is certainly entitled to seek future employment, his desire to obtain a particular job does not trump the need to ensure his appearance for sentencing.”

Grim faces a maximum prison sentence of up to three years as a result of the guilty plea he entered last December. That plea came after he successfully stood for re-election, defeating former Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Domenic Recchia despite the mutli-count federal indctment hanging over his head.

Ex-Rep. Michael Grimm denied required to modify bail to travel to Europe. by liz_benjamin6490

Independence Party Backs Donovan in NY-11

The state Independence Party has announced its support of Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan’s run to fil the House seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Michael Grimm, giving the Republican candidate three ballot lines in the May 5 special election.

The Independence Party’s decision comes on the heels of an announcement yesterday from the state Conservative Party that it, too, had voted to back Donovan, who will face off against Democratic Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile in two months.

In a statement announcing the endorsement, state Independence Party Chairman Frank MacKay said Donovan “has proven time and again that he puts people before politics,” adding:

“His integrity and commitment to public service is unparalleled. With all of the important issues facing our city and nation right now, I know Dan is the right man for the job. We are proud to endorse him as the next congressman for the people of Staten Island and South Brooklyn.”

When he ran for state attorney general in 2010, Donovan removed his name from consideration for endorsement by the Independence Party after his office received “several allegations of misconduct” by MacKay. The DA said he was withdrawing his name “to preserve the integrity of my office and the integrity of any possible investigation undertaken.”

Donovan later cleared MacKay in a probe that involved a candidate seeking the Independence Party endorsement in a NYC Council special election whose company had loaned $10,000 to a software company run by MacKay’s wife, Kristin.

The Independence Party ended up backing a placeholder candidate, Long Isdland attorney Steve Lynch, and then replacing Lynch with then-state Sen. Eric Schneiderman after his won the five-way Democratic state AG primary. Schneiderman went on to defeat Donovan in the November general election. (In order to get Lynch off the ballot, the Monroe County Democrats agreed to nominate him for a state Supreme Court judgeship, which he did not win).

Conservatives Back Donovan in NY-11

The state Conservative Party announced today it “enthusiastically” and officially voted at an executive committee meeting today to back Republican Staten Island DA Dan Donovan in the May 5 special election for the seat vacated by former GOP Rep. Michael Grimm.

“Dan Donovan will bring an extensive background in public service to Congress,” said Brooklyn Conservative Party Chairman Jerry Kassar. “Like the Conservative Party, he is an advocate of pro-growth economic policies through tax cuts and spending caps.”

“And when it comes to foreign policy, Dan places America’s interests first backed by a strong national defense. I am very pleased the State Conservative Party has nominated him for election to Congress.”

Staten Island Conservative Chairman Harold J. Wagner, Jr. called Donovan “home grown,” a candidate who knows the district and its people.

“He has served his community for over 25 years with honor and distinction,” Wagner continued. “He possesses the political skills to navigate Washington and will know how to advocate for the 11th Congressional District. Knowing Dan for a long time, I have always found him to be attentive to his constituents, and I believe he will reflect the will of the people.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long also cited his longstanding relationship with Donovan, and said he believed the DA’s “knowledge of the issues will be his strength” in representing the district in D.C.

The state Conservative Party backed Donovan in his failed state AG bid in 2010 against the current Democratic incumbent (but then state senator) Eric Scheniderman. In fact, the Conservatives endorsed Donovan even before his own party did, holding their state convention in late May, while the Republicans gathered a few days later (in early June).

Donovan hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the local Conservative Party, however, In 2011, the Staten Island Democrats snubbed Donovan, endorsing Democrat Michael Ryan rather than the incumbent DA, who was seeking a third term.

The move was widely seen as the result of Donovan’s falling out with his onetime mentor, former Staten Island BP Jim Molinaro, which was caused by the DA’s call for a special prosecutor in a 2006 case involving Molinaro’s grandson. The borough president denied that charge, though he personally backed Ryan as well.

Donovan handily won re-election in the 2011 November general election, defeating Ryan by a wider margin than he had four years earlier, even though he lacked the Conservative line.

The Republicans picked Donovan, who is perhaps best known as the prosecutor in the Eric Garner case, as their candidate to replace Grimm long before Gov. Andrew Cuomo even called the special election. (Actually, Cuomo’s hand was forced by a lawsuit).

After seeing their preferred candidates – former Rep. Michael McMahon and Assemblyman Michael Cusick – take a pass on the race, the Democrats just recently settled on Brooklyn Councilman Vincent Gentile as their candidate.

Schedule Set For Special Elections

The state Board of Elections on Friday released a schedule for the special elections in the 43rd Assembly district and 11th Congressional district.

Key dates include: Certificate of nominations are due March 2, ballots are certified March 13 and the first campaign finance disclosure date is April 6.

In the NY-11, Republicans back Staten Island District Attorney Dan Donovan, while Democrats are eyeing Vincent Gentile, a New York City councilman, to run for the seat vacated by Republican Michael Grimm.

Memo-Calenar-Proc-for May 5 2015 Special Election.pdf by Nick Reisman

Special Elections Set For May 5

As expected, Gov. Andrew Cuomo this morning set May 5 as the date to hold special elections in both the 11th congressional district and a newly vacant Assembly seat in Brooklyn.

Cuomo had been under a court order to set the date for the special election by noon today, or a federal judge would have automatically scheduled one himself.

The 11th congressional district, which covers Staten Island and parts of Brooklyn, is an open seat following the resignation of Republican Michael Grimm, who pleaded guilty to tax evasion.

Brooklyn’s 43rd Assembly district became open last night following the resignation of Democrat Karim Camara, who is joining the governor’s administration in order to lead faith-based outreach programs.

The proclamation from Cuomo’s office can be viewed here.

Tonko Recalls ‘Honorable’ Interactions With Silver

From today’s Morning Memo, ICYMI…

Since former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver’s arrest, any number of people – even some of his former allies – have expressed shock and even disgust at the charges levied against him by Bharara.

But one of his former conference members – ex-Assemblyman-turned-Congressman Paul Tonko – has only good memories of his time working in the Silver-dominated chamber. Tonko said during a CapTon interview Wednesday night (the day before Silver was formally indicted on corruption charges) that the interactions he had with the former speaker were “honorable.”

The former assemblyman also took issue with rank-and-file members’ complaints that Silver was too controlling and ruled the chamber with an iron fist.

“I was surprised by the allegations,” Tonko said. “I know that as Energy (Committee) chair, I was given gray latitude and support by the speaker to initiative energy reforms that I think have transitioned us to a pretty good spot in the national scene. This state is looked to often times for sound energy reform and transformation, innovation. That happened because he enabled us. He delegated.”

Tonko said he disagrees with Bharara’s painting of Albany as a big cesspool of corruption, saying:

“It’s a broad brush that is paining everyone here. I served with a number of people who were devoted public servants, who made this their No. 1 priority, and they did it squeaky clean. They were great to work with, and I would suggest that was the majority of folks.”

“…If some of these situations occur, let’s work on a system that provides for the transparency,” the Capital Region Democrat continued. “But to just suggest that everybody is not honorable in the system can take us into such broad interpretation of the fix that’s rehired that you might scare away from very good minds and heats that would serve the public well.”

Maloney: Pass Rail Safety Legislation

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney, Friday, continued to call on Congress to pass rail safety legislation he introduced just hours after a Metro-North train collided with a vehicle in Westchester County Tuesday night.

The crash killed six, including five passengers from the train and the woman operating the vehicle.

Maloney’s legislation, the Rail Crossings Safety Improvement Act, would improve safety at rail crossings and also invest in positive train control – a method of being able to remotely control a moving train.

“People want answers to why these incidents keep happening and I think that’s very fair,” Congressman Maloney, a Democrat, said at a talk at Marist College Friday. “There are good solutions that we know will make the train safer.”

The legislation would be part of a $100 million federal grant program that would help local communities invest in safety improvements at rail crossings. It would invest $100 million per year over the next four years. That funding would not be limited to New York State – it would be available nationally.

“Sometimes it means putting a bridge over it, putting a tunnel over it, moving the rail crossing,” Maloney said. “Local communities can’t afford to do this. They need help”

Republican Congressman Chris Gibson, who also attended the talk at Marist, says he’s throwing his support across the aisle behind the legislation.

“I’ve been looking at some of the data and these types of incidents, these types of tragedies are declining significantly in our country, but not in New York,” Gibson said. “We have to look at ‘what is going on here in our state?”

Last year, there were 31 train accidents in New York State according to the Federal Railroad Administration. The year before that, there were 43, and in 2011 there were 34 accidents.

“It’s just too bad it takes a terrible strategy like this to focus on a common sense step,” Maloney said.

The National Transportation Safety Board has not yet determined what details led to the crash.

3rd Time’s A Charm? Powell Declares For Rangel’s Seat

Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV is formally declaring his intention to run for a third time for the seat occupied by veteran Harlem Democratic Rep. Charlie Rangel, who has said the two-year term he is currently serving will be his last in Congress.

“This is not an exploratory committee,” Powell wrote in an email sent by his campaign committee just before 6 p.m. this evening. (Sort of strange timing, given the fact that much of the political world is prepping for the President’s State of the Union tonight and Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s State of the State/budget address tomorrow). “I’ve been exploring this district for over 20 years. It’s time to run.”

“I know this congressional district as well as anyone. From El Barrio to Harlem to Washington Heights & Inwood to the Bronx, I’ve represented various parts of this district in the City Council and in the State Assembly. Most of the leaders in these various neighborhoods are people I know and have worked with throughout the years. I hope you pray for me and join me in this exciting journey.”

Powell also noted his long-standing history with the district (albeit in a different, pre-redistricting configuration), pointing out his father, Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., created the seat and served as New York’s first black member of Congress from 1944-1970 – the year he was ousted by Rangel.

“We need a progressive voice to preserve the rich history of these last 70 years,” Powell continued. I intend to run for that seat.”

This isn’t a big surprise. Powell recently told the NY Observer that he would likely take one more shot at a congressional run when the 84-year-old Rangel’s current term ends in 2016. He lost primary challenges to Rangel in 1996 and 2010, but endorsed him in 2012 and 2014 when the congressman fought off multiple primary challengers.

Powell, who is now a lobbyist, has said he believes he can win in the district despite the fact that a majority of its residents are now Latino.

It’s a safe bet that the race for Rangel’s seat – assuming he makes good on his pledge and does not seek re-election – will be quite crowded. Assemblyman Keith Wright, the Manhattan Democratic chairman, has long been mentioned as a potential Rangel replacement, and perhaps the top candidate in the congressman’s eyes, should he be able to select his own successor.

Also mentioned: Sen. Adriando Espaillat, who came close to beating Rangel in the 2012 and 2014 Democratic primaries; former Gov. David Paterson, Sen. Bill Perkins, NYC Councilwoman Inez Dickens, and the Rev. Michael Walrond, who ran in the 2014 primary and received 8 percent of the vote.

Moderate Republicans Oppose Immigration Vote

Rep. John Katko bucked House leadership Wednesday on a controversial immigration vote.

The newly sworn-in Republican joined Reps. Chris Gibson, Richard Hanna and Peter King in opposing an effort to block one of President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The amendment, part of a multi-pronged effort to derail the President’s immigration policies, would end Obama’s 2012 executive action that has allowed undocumented immigrants brought here as children, known as Dreamers, to remain in the country without fear of deportation.

A total of 26 House Republicans opposed the measure, perhaps worried about the message the bill would send to swing voters in states with large immigrant populations.

“I disagree with the President’s unilateral approach on this issue,” Katko said in a statement released shortly after the vote. “But I also disagree with members of my party who wish to retroactively punish those who have already come forward under the protection granted by the President. Congress needs to work in a bipartisan way with the President to secure our borders and reform our broken immigration system.”

That sentiment was echoed by Hanna, who said the amendment would uproot the lives of 600,000 young people who have already been granted permission to stay.

Hanna, Gibson and King, however, did support a similar effort back in August to end the Dreamers program.

Reps. Chris Collins, Tom Reed, Elise Stefanik and Lee Zeldin supported Wednesday’s vote.

All of the state’s Republicans voted to scrap Obama’s executive action, announced in November, that allows millions of other undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation. They also supported the Department of Homeland Security spending bill to which the amendments were attached.

The bill passed the House by a vote 236-191. It is likely moderate Republicans and Democrats in the Senate will vote to strip the immigration amendments out of the bill and then send it back to the House.

 

Ms. Malliotakis Goes to Washington

From today’s Morning Memo:

GOP leaders in NY-11 may be coalescing behind Staten Island DA Dan Donovan to run in the yet-to-be-called special election to replace disgraced former Rep. Michael Grimm, but Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis isn’t quite ready to throw in the towel.

Malliotakis, a Staten Island Republican, traveled to Washington yesterday to meet with NRCC leaders about her potential candidacy for the lone NYC seat in the GOP’s column.

Her effort could be assisted by the fact that national party leaders reportedly aren’t thrilled by the idea of having the guy best known as the DA in the Eric Garner case as their candidate – a move that would no doubt focus the election on the sticky issues of criminal justice reform and race relations.

NY1’s Michael Scotto caught up with NRCC Chairman Greg Walden after his meeting with Malliotakis yesterday, and the Oregon Republican tried hard to maintain an air of neutrality.

Walden insisted both Donovan and Malliotakis are “very fine candidates” with “different strengths” who would “represent that district very effectively here in Washington.”

“The long and short of it is that the people on Staten Island and Brooklyn will decide who the nominee is,” Walden said. “Our job is to move forward from there and hold that seat.”

“…I’m meeting with them as we do any candidates, but I know I don’t have a vote. The Republicans on Staten Island do. I am really excited about both these individuals. They both bring different talents; they both bring very strong electoral capabilities.”

Asked about the complication for Donovan’s candidacy of the Garner case, in which the grand jury’s decision not to bring charges against a white police officer for the chokehold-related death of an unarmed black man sparked protests and significant unrest in NYC, Walden said:

“I think if Republicans pick Dan Donovan then he will have an opportunity to go explain in further detail his side of the story there certainly that perhaps he hasn’t had a chance to do.”

“But the long and the short of it is we have a good opportunity to hold that seat, and I’m excited going forward.”

Malliotakis was also playing her cards close to the vest, telling Scotto that she had a “very good, pleasant, productive conversation” with Walden.

“We’ll go through the process and see where it ends up,” the assemblywoman said. “We’re not going to discuss any of the particulars of the meetings. We’re going to keep it private. We’re just talking about the landscape of the district.”

Malliotakis said she’s “encouraged” by the grassroots support she has been receiving.

Yesterday, Brooklyn GOP Chairman Craig Eaton released a statement announcing that the majority of his party’s leaders had signaled support for Malliotakis’ candidacy during a recent informal meeting.

Eaton said he will wait until Gov. Andrew Cuomo calls a special election in NY-11 (something the governor has shown no signs of doing any time soon), and then convene a convention of county committee members to which all potential candidates will be invited to make their respective cases.

“I will then bind myself to their vote and deliver same at my meeting with (Staten Island GOP Chair John) Antoniello at the lawfully appointed time,” Eaton said.

“In the very end, my committee and I will support the candidate selected through this process and work diligently to ensure that he or she is victorious in the election.”

But the reality is that Brooklyn will have a very small say in the candidate selection process, since only a sliver of the borough in included in the district, which contains all of Staten Island.

Antoniello has announced his support for Donovan. But Malliotakis said she’s hopeful Staten Island GOP officials will follow the lead of their counterparts in Brooklyn and hold a convention to select a candidate.

“All we’re asking for is an open and transparent process where the rank-and-file members can be heard, she said.

While the Republicans are holding a very public battle over who they’ll select to run in Grimm’s stead, the Democrats have been fairly quiet.

The potential candidates getting mentioned most on that side include former Rep. Michael McMahon, whom Grimm defeated in 2010, and Assemblyman Michael Cusick.