Congress

Gallivan Not Sold on Collins Re-elect

From the Morning Memo:

Add state Sen. Pat Gallivan’s name to the list of Western New York Republicans who aren’t thrilled with the idea of sending disgraced Rep. Chris Collins back to Washington as he’s battling charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI.

During a CapTon interview last night, Gallivan, who took himself out of the running early on as a potential replacement for Collins on the November ballot – back before the congressman decided he would seek re-elect despite his legal troubles after all – said he needs to be convinced to vote for Collins, though he didn’t express a preference for any other candidate.

“For me, I’m one of his constituents, my district – all but two or three towns – sit wholly within that 27th Congressional District, and I think that Congressman Collins has to make his case, make a case to his constituents – myself included – in order to be re-elected,” the senator said.

When pressed on whether that means he can’t be counted on to vote “yes” on Collins, Gallivan replied:

“I serve the citizens, and I try to be responsive to the citizens that I serve, and I think he needs to do the same. He has said publicly that he is innocent of these charges, and I think that what he needs to do tell us about it, tell us that he is innocent and convince us that he is.”

“And if he can successfully do that, then he can be re-elected. I think he owes that, he has said that publicly, he now owes that to his constituents.”

WNY GOP officials had been struggling to figure out how to get Collins off the general election ballot and replace him with someone else – all while Democrats threatened to challenge any such move in court.

But Collins this week made their decision for them, announcing that on the advice of his attorneys, he had decided to run for re-election, and subsequently has said he plans to actively campaign while also fighting to clear his name.

The Cook Political Report has moved the NY-27 race to “leans Republican” from “likely Republican,” saying Collins flip-flop on his re-election bid improves the chances of his Democratic opponent, Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray, despite the overwhelming GOP enrollment edge in the district.

Rep. Higgins Signs Letter Demanding Answers From Walmart

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is one of 13 Democratic members of Congress to sign a letter demanding answers from Walmart about how the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has affected employees.

The letter to CEO Doug McMillon points out the company authorized $20 billion in buybacks for stockholders while many workers still make wages below the federal poverty line. The organization Making Change At Walmart said it provided Congress with hundreds of testimonies from workers who fall well below the company’s claim of a $13.75 average hourly wage, prior to the letter’s submission.

“Walmart continues to prove it is an irresponsible corporation that will, given the opportunity, choose rewarding executives and shareholders over the welfare of the hard-working men and women who make its stores successful,” MCAW communications director Amy Ritter said.

The members of Congress also question the CEO about recent layoffs and the closure of 63 Sam’s Club locations, a Wal-Mart subsidiary. The signers, including Higgins did not support the tax reform bill.

The letter conceded Wal-Mart has taken steps to increase wages, improve benefits in the last several years. However, as the nation’s largest private employer the members asked the company to provide comprehensive answers to a dozen questions about the tax law’s impact and plans moving forward.

Higgins was the only New York representative to sign.

New CLF Ads Target Brindisi

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC endorsed by the House Republican leadership, is releasing two more ads in NY-22 today, both of which target the Democratic candidate, Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi, and seek to cast him as a political insider who is too liberal for the moderate-to-conservative leaning district.

The ads will run in the Binghamton and Utica media markets, as well as on digital platforms, and is part of some $2 million worth of time the CLF has reserved in this hotly contested district for the fall.

The fist spot, dubbed “Sheldon and Nancy,” tries – yet again – to tie Brindisi both to disgraced former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and current House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, whom the assemblyman has said he will not support to continue as head of the conference if he is elected to the House in November.

The ad also accuses Brindisi of being a “rubber stamp” for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s agenda, voting for Cuomo’s “agenda” over 90 percent of the time.

Among the issues highlighted here is single payer healthcare, for which the assemblyman voted “yes,” though technically speaking, that NOT a key agenda item for the governor – something that became a flashpoint during his primary battle with actress-turned-activist Cynthia Nixon.

Brindisi has sought to distance himself from the former speaker, releasing an ad of his own last month that highlighted his role in push the speaker to resign when he was hit with federal corruption charges.

That ad came out on the same day the CLF, which is working hard to boost the re-election chances of Brindisi’s opponent, Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, herself a former assemblywoman, released a different spot, which maintained the assemblyman had actually been Silver’s “go-to guy” in Albany.

Brindisi has also not been afraid to publicly criticize the governor, particularly when he felt Cuomo was ignoring the Mohawk Valley.

The second ad features a Chittenango woman, Sherry Menninger, who says she can’t support Brindisi because she’s concerned he wants to “make everyone eligible for Medicare,” which will raise the national debt and “wreck” the system for everyone.

“In Albany, Anthony Brindisi rubber-stamped Silver’s and Cuomo’s agenda over ninety percent of the time. Brindisi voted for single-payer health care, and a two hundred billion-dollar tax hike. Now Brindisi wants to rubber-stamp Nancy Pelosi’s agenda, supporting a thirty-two-trillion-dollar government takeover of health care, nearly doubling the debt. Anthony Brindisi is a tax-and-spend rubber stamp.”

“(Sherry): “I earned my social security and Medicare benefits, and I want Washington to keep their hands off them. That’s why I can’t support Anthony Brindisi. Brindisi wants to make everyone eligible for Medicare. And that’s a thirty-trillion-dollar budget buster. Brindisi’s plan would end Medicare as we know and explode the national debt, wrecking Medicare for seniors, raising taxes on everyone. Anthony Brindisi doesn’t get my vote.”

Collins to Stay on November Ballot, Dems Crow

Democrats are thrilled that disgraced Rep. Chris Collins is remaining on the NY-27 ballot in the November general election despite the fact that he is fighting charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI and said – after initially insisting he intended to see the race through, that he wouldn’t be seeking re-election.

The Buffalo News reports that Collins “has heeded the advice of his criminal attorneys who fear the potential complications of protracted election law challenges almost sure to be initiated by Democrats if he removed his name from the congressional ballot.”

“In an attempt to end a devastating news cycle following Congressman Chris Collins’ indictment, Republicans immediately vowed that they would get their scandalized Congressman off the federal ballot, but we now know that this wasn’t true,” DCCC spokeswoman Meredith Kelly said in a statement.

“In the most stark sign that House Republicans are a corrupt and unethical body only out to benefit themselves and their special interests, there are now two indicted Republicans on the ballot in November.”

“The voters of New York 27th Congressional District now have the clearest of choices between scandal-plagued Chris Collins and Nate McMurray, who will be a real fighter for the families of Western New York, and the stakes just got a whole lot higher on November 6th.”

The other indicted GOP congressman running in this cycle, to whom Kelly referred, is Rep. Duncan Hunter of California, who is facing criminal charges for allegedly using campaign funds on tequila shots, family trips to Hawaii and Italy, and other personal expenses.

Local Republicans, meanwhile, are not at all happy – Erie County GOP Chair Nick Langworthy told the paper he felt like “a groom jilted at the alter.” But the truth is they have been struggling for weeks now to figure out 1) how to get Collins off the ballot without facing a prolonged legal challenge from the Democrats, and 2) who to replace Collins with once he was gone, since the top contenders were state Senate Republicans, and taking them out of the mix would potentially further endanger the party’s already tenuous hold on the majority.

Another problem NY-27 GOP officials faced was the lack of enthusiasm among local electeds about the idea of stepping aside to give Collins somewhere to drop down to in order to get out of running for Congress.

The Democratic candidate in NY-27. Nate McMurray, learned of the news regarding his opponent’s status while hosting DNC Chairman (and Buffalo native) Tom Perez at a campaign HQ opening. In a statement, McMurray said it’s “nice to finally know who I’m running against,” but also insisted he “always knew” he would end up facing off against the congressman.

“There are laws for a reason. There is accountability in our society for a reason,” McMurray said. “And in the greatest democracy in the world, voters weren’t going to take this kind of sham switching around names on a ballot at the whims of local party bosses.”

“I credit the people of Western New York for standing up in town after town saying ‘don’t force him on the ballot in my town.’ They saw through this fraud. They weren’t going to fall for the bait and switch strategy by the same team that endorsed, celebrated, took pictures with and defended Chris Collins.”

McMurray said he believes NY-27 voters “like that I’m an underdog” and expressed excitement about the remaining 50 days of the campaign.

For the record, FiveThirtyEight.com says Collins has a one in five shot at winning in November.

House Ethics Sub-Committee Will Rule On Potential Collins Censure

From the Morning Memo:

A congressional investigative subcommittee will decide if Western New York Republican Rep. Chris Collins should be censured or removed from office.

At issue is the question of whether Collins violated the Code of Official Conduct or any law, rule or regulation.

Last month, the congressman pleaded not guilty to federal charges connected to insider trading. He is accused of passing non-public information about the results of a drug trial for Australian pharmaceuticals firm to his son, who then sold roughly 1.4 million shares of his company stock hours before it plummeted.

The committee did agree to wait until the criminal case is concluded before taking action. Collins announced last month he was suspending his campaign for re-election in the 27th district.

Local Republicans have been looking at ways to replace Collins on the ballot, but have not yet named another candidate – in part due to legal concerns and threats from the Democrats to challenge any effort to run someone new on the GOP line.

Also at issue: The potential of creating a so-called “cascade” effect by tapping a down-ballot Republican to run in Collins’ place, creating yet another ballot hole that needs to be plugged, and potentially endangering the party’s control of the state Senate.

Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate  McMurray is the endorsed Democrat in the race.

Rep. Collins Returns To Washington

From the Morning Memo:

Indicted Rep. Chris Collins was back to work in Washington, D.C. last night following a five-week summer break.

A lot has changed for the Western New York Republican since he last voted on the House floor in July. Federal prosecutors charged Collins with crimes related to insider trading on Aug. 8.

The congressman returned to Buffalo the night of his indictment to make a brief statement and had laid low ever since, as local GOP leaders struggle to figure out whether they can replace him on the November ballot, and if so, with who.

Collins suspended his campaign days after the indictment while vowing to clear his name and continue serving the district. Democrat Nate McMurray was already challenging the Republican congressman before his legal troubles began.

According to the Buffalo News, Collins avoided main entrances – and reporters – while at the Capitol. His spokesperson said he would be taking no questions from the press.

Members of the media were anxious to get Collins’ reaction to a tweet by his longtime ally, President Donald Trump, that chided U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions for bringing charges against the WNY congressman and another Republican lawmaker, California’s Duncan Hunter, just weeks before the midterm elections, potentially hiring the GOP’s chances of retaining the majority.

But Collins appeared intent on focusing on the job at hand. He voted in favor of legislation to establish a “Biometric Identification Transnational Alert Program,” and against a bill instruct conferees to take a certain position on an already passed defense appropriations bill, according to his congressional webpage.

The congressman’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Delgado Launches New Healthcare Ad ‘Worth It’

The Democratic congressional candidate in New York’s 19th District Antonio Delgado released a new TV campaign ad targeting the healthcare record of his opponent, Republican Rep. John Faso.

In the new ad entitled, “Worth It” Delgado appears with Hillary and her daughter Esmé of Rensselaer County. Hillary is a healthcare advocate, propelled by her medically-fragile daughter who experiences developmental delays. She spent a considerable amount of time seeking appointment with Faso prior to the passage of the Republican-sponsored American Health Care Act on the House floor. It’s legislation the freshman congressman voted in favor of, and repealed aspects of the Obama-era Affordable Care Act.

Hillary wrote an open letter to the Congressman, and secured a meeting regarding her concerns over what these repeals would mean for families like hers.

“With your vote you stated your priorities. You prioritized the wealthiest people in this country over the health, safety, and well-being of my child and children like her. And you did it surreptitiously. You did it despite the calls from your constituents begging you not to. You did it without waiting for information from the Congressional Office on Budget Priorities. You did it despite the clear majority of Americans who opposed the bill. You’ve made it clear who you stand with. Who matters most to you. And it is absolutely not my child.”

In the video, Delgado makes a pledge to stand by healthcare advocates like Hillary, and take on the Trump administration’s changes to pre-existing healthcare policies.

“Growing up here, I learned the values of honesty and responsibility. Congressman John Faso told his constituents, like Hillary and her daughter Esmé, that he’d protect their health care but then voted to cut it,” Delgado said.

Delgado won the Democratic nomination to run for Congress in New York’s 19th District earlier this summer.

It’s his first bid for elected office, and he has received several endorsements, including former President Barack Obama. Delgado faces freshman Congressman John Faso, who seeks re-election to his post in the general election this November.

Morelle Launches First TV Ad in NY-25 Race: ‘Family’

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle has released the first general election TV ad of his congressional run a day after Gov. Andrew Cuomo called a special election in NY-25 to fill the vacancy left by the death of Democratic Rep. Louise Slaughter this past March.

The special will be held on Nov. 6, Election Day, which makes things easier for voters, and also will enable whoever wins to be seated right away to fill out the remainder of Slaughter’s term, and not have to wait until the next Congress is officially seated in January.

The ad is a feel-good spot, focusing on Morelle’s personal life and dedication to family, as well as his professional life as a veteran member of the Assembly – something he is not shying away from, despite the fact that past members of the Legislature were hurt by their association with Albany when they tried to run for a House seat.

The Morelle family is a close-knit unit, as evidenced by this ad, and, though it’s not mentioned here, it experienced tragedy last summer when the assemblyman’s daughter, Lauren, lost a highly public and long-running battle with breast cancer at the age of 31.

Morelle won a four-way Democratic primary in June, receiving 45 percent of the vote. He’ll be facing Dr. Jim Maxwell, a Republican, in the November election.

Maxwell is a newcomer who is billing himself as a “fresh face” for the district, and seeking to cast Morelle as a career politician who is associated with gridlock and politics as usual.

NY-25 lies entirely within Monroe County, and has almost 60,000 more enrolled active Democratic voters than Republicans, and just over 111,000 “blanks” who are unaffiliated with any political party. Slaughter held the seat for three decades after the GOP held it for two.

Spectrum News and Siena will be unveiling an exclusive poll of this race this evening on Capital Tonight. Tune in at 8 p.m. to get the details.

In the meantime, here’s the transcript for the ad. The campaign did not provide details of how big the buy is, where the ad is running and for how long.

Joe Morelle: My dad was a pipefitter, my mom ran the house. Family was their priority; dinner at 6 was mandatory. Mom pushed me to do well in school, but the only grade my dad cared about was citizenship. Service was so important to them. The idea of community, of family… I live by those values – their values – for 28 years in the State Assembly, and as a husband, brother, father and grandfather. Every Sunday, my whole family gets together for breakfast at my house. That’s a tradition that my wife and I carry on.

Mary Beth Morelle, Joe’s wife: Joe cooks, he cleans… and he actually turns off his phone.

Joe Morelle: It’s the best part of my week, for sure. People see the division in Washington. It’s not helping anyone,” says Morelle. “Look, at the end of the day, families want the same things – good healthcare that’s affordable, caring for our loved ones when they’re older, giving kids a fair shot in life. If you see something you can do to help others, you have an obligation to do it. That’s why I’m running for Congress. I’m Joe Morelle, and I approve this message.

"Family" from Joe Morelle for Congress on Vimeo.

Rep. Reed Doesn’t Have A Favorite For Collins Replacement

For now at least, it appears Rep. Tom Reed, (R-NY-23) will head to Congress in 2019 with a new colleague from his neighboring 27th district.

This weekend Chris Collins suspended his campaign and local Republicans believe they can get him off the November ballot.

“I do believe Chris made the right decision to step aside and he’s obviously dealing with a very serious situation, him and his family,” Reed said.

However, the Southern Tier Republican said he’s not inserting himself into the decision-making process to find Collins replacement. He said that’s up to the GOP chairs of the eight counties that comprise the district.

Reed said he has not picked a favorite of the roughly fifteen candidates the party is considering. He is encouraged by the pool though.

“Whoever they select, and I’ll defer to them on who that selection is, will carry the message that they believe in to the people in November and it’s really up to the people decide who’s going to represent them and be their voice in Washington D.C.,” Reed said.

During a Tuesday conference call, the congressman did specifically address two candidates in response to questions from reporter. He said state Senator Pat Gallivan, the former Erie County sheriff, has a rich law enforcement background and has served his district well in the state Legislature.

He also weighed in on outspoken Buffalo businessman and political figure Carl Paladino. Reed ran for Congress in 2010 at the same time Paladino was running for Governor of New York, and said they got to know each other on the campaign trail.

He said Paladino has stepped up and done many good things for the community, despite being somewhat of a political lightning rod.

“The best thing about the 27th congressional district, and Carl Paladino included in this assessment, is you got some really good people stepping forward and willing to do public service and if you come at this with a public servant’s heart, I think the styles can be addressed and can be taken care of,” he said.

Reed said the 27th congressional seat is obviously less safe than it was a week ago, but he said the district remains very Republican and he expects the selected candidate to stabilize it even further with a vision that is reflective of its voters.

Rep. Collins Endorses Farley For U.S. Senate

Another Republican member of Congress has endorsed U.S. Senate candidate Chele Farley.

Rep. Chris Collins, R-NY-27, announced his support Thursday. Collins is from Western New York and was the first sitting member of the U.S. House to support Donald Trump for president in 2016.

Not unlike Trump, he said Farley is an outsider with the skills and experience to “shake up the status quo in Washington.” The New York City-based financial executive is running against incumbent Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand.

“Kirsten Gillibrand has been absent in the fight for Western New York: on job creation, opioids, infrastructure and property tax relief,” Collins said. “Senator Gillibrand has failed our families and our small businesses. I know we can do better, that’s why I’m strongly endorsing Chele Farley for US Senate and encouraging others to support her campaign today.”

Collins is the last member of New York’s Republican congressional delegation to endorse Farley. The delegation also includes Peter King, Elise Stefanik, John Faso, Claudia Tenney, John Katko, Dan Donovan and Tom Reed.

Former Governor George Pataki has also put his support behind the candidate. Farley said she is grateful for Collins support and continued advocacy for his region.

“Western New Yorkers are fed up with Kirsten Gillibrand,” she said. “We are losing people and businesses to other states. We have a balance-of-payments deficit of $48 billion per year — money that we need to repair bridges and highways here at home.”

Farley had scheduled visits to both Rochester and Buffalo on Thursday.