Andrew Cuomo

DeFran: Cuomo ‘Hedging His Bets’ With Senate

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco in a radio interview on Thursday continued what has been several days of Republican criticism of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s stated support for a Democratic takeover of the chamber.

In an interview on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom, DeFrancisco said Cuomo’s endorsements for Democrats in key races and fundraising efforts for the mainline conference were based on a political calculation the Senate would likely flip this year.

“There seems to be a common theme. If it promotes his agenda at the moment, it’s the right thing to say,” said DeFrancisco, a Republican from Syracuse.

“The governor seems to think things are moving to the left He wants to be to the left of de Blasio and now he’s hedging his bets on what’s going to happen in this election.”

The comments come after Republican Senate candidate Chris McGrath blasted Cuomo’s endorsement and fundraising support for Democratic Sen. Todd Kaminsky, linking him to the arrests of nine people in a bid-rigging and bribery case, as well as the “Bridgegate” scandal in New Jersey.

On Wednesday, Majority Leader John Flanagan expressed concern in a statement that Cuomo’s support for Senate Democrats would empower Mayor Bill de Blasio — an antagonist who the governor has been in heated feud with over the last year.

DeFrancisco, however, differed with Flanagan’s interpretation.

“It doesn’t matter whether de Blasio is involved or not, it’s a bad agenda,” he said. “You don’t have to tie de Blasio in. Whether you call it de Blasio or the New York City Democrats’ agenda, it’s a bad thing. It’s a bad thing for New York state, it’s certainly a bad thing for upstate.”

DeFrancisco has been a barbed critic of Cuomo. Earlier this year, the lawmaker knocked Cuomo’s push for a $15 minimum wage in New York, which led to an arched rebuke from the governor (ultimately, all Republicans in the Senate voted for the wage measure, which was tucked into a budget bill).

But while Cuomo has worked well with Senate Republicans on a variety of issues, he’s signaled in recent weeks he would push for limits on the income lawmakers can earn outside of the Legislature as well as the DREAM Act, a bill that would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. Both measures have not passed the GOP-led Senate.

“The Senate Republicans are running scared and they should be. Decades of GOP control have led to an ethical crisis, out-of-control mandates, and sky-high taxes on struggling New York families and businesses,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy. “The Senate Democrats are set for historic wins on November 8th, and no amount of Senate Republican lies will change that fact.”

Cuomo Insists He’s Going To Be Selective With His Senate Endorsements

Last night, Gov. Andrew Cuomo wants to elect “good Democrats” who line up with his agenda in Albany.

This morning in Buffalo, Cuomo declined to offer an endorsement to the Democratic candidate running in western New York’s 60th Senate district, a seat that is seen as a key linchpin for Republicans if they want to hold control of the chamber.

“It’s not as simple saying Democrat or Republican; you have to look at the person,” Cuomo said when asked if he would endorse Democrat Amber Small over Republican Chris Jacobs. “You have to look at the person’s position on issues and you have to look at the person’s background.”

Asked if he planned to make an endorsement in the race, which will replace outgoing Sen. Marc Panepinto, Cuomo said he had not had that “conversation” yet.

The chamber is narrowly led by Republicans thanks to an alliance with Brooklyn Sen. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who conferences with the GOP.

In recent weeks, Cuomo has moved to bolster Democrats running down ballot, an effort that in previous cycles liberal detractors have said is far from robust.

Cuomo reiterated what he told Democrats at a fundraiser on Tuesday night for conference’s campaign committee: He wants lawmakers in the Senate who back his push for new ethics measures in the form of limits on outside income, along with “fiscal discipline.”

“Those are the two seminal issues,” Cuomo said. “Just because the person is a Democrat or a Republican that doesn’t answer that for me. Really, it’s a case by case basis. I’m talking to a number of races. I have not had a conversation in that race.”

Cuomo has endorsed Democrats in competitive races in recent weeks, including Adam Haber and incumbent Todd Kaminsky on Long Island as well as Sen. George Latimer.

Cuomo Sends Fundraising Email For Senate Democrats

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday night sent a fundraising email for the state Democratic Committee that called for the party’s takeover of the chamber.

“Every 4 years, Americans are faced with a choice, and the closer we get to Election Day, the clearer that choice becomes,” Cuomo wrote in the email, which includes a link to donating to the state party committee, which he controls.

“We see that choice clearly on every level. We see it for the House, we see it for the Senate, we see it blazingly clearly for the Presidential, and we see it in the elections for New York State Assembly and Senate.”

The fundraising email comes as Cuomo is ramping up his efforts to have the Senate flip to Democratic control, with the state party committee running a field, phone banking and digital operation.

“Please help us take back the NYS Senate and donate today,” Cuomo wrote in the email. “In the next 14 days, we have a lot of hard work to do, but it’s the right thing to do, and together, we’re going to do it well.”

Cuomo on Tuesday night speaking to the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee’s fundraiser indicated he hoped the Independent Democratic Conference would form a new coalition-style agreement with the mainline conference, comparing the arrangement to a political “marriage” of sorts between the two factions.

At the same time, Cuomo said he is only interested in backing “good Democrats” who align with his agenda, which includes a limit on outside income, the passage of the DREAM Act and campaign finance reform.

Cuomo Pushes For ‘Good Democrats’ In The Senate

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday night pushed for a Democratic takeover of the state Senate, telling a gathering at a Democratic Senate Campaign Committee fundraiser he needed the chamber to flip in order to enact a range of liberal policy goals.

But at the same time, Cuomo acknowledged mainline Democrats will likely have to “compromise” and form a majority coalition with the five-member Independent Democratic Conference — a move he compared to the practical considerations of a marriage.

Mainline Democrats will have to be “smart enough and flexible enough to form a partnership with the IDC,” he said.

Cuomo’s comments come as he has sought this month to play an increasingly prominent role in down-ballot elections including key battleground races for the state Senate, which is narrowly led by Republicans.

Cuomo told the fundraiser that while he’s achieved measures ranging from same-sex marriage to more recently a $15 minimum wage and paid-family leave, other goals have been bottled up — which he blamed on Republicans in Albany.

Those measures include the DREAM Act, criminal justice reform, increasing the age of adult incarceration and a “campaign finance system that actually works.”

Cuomo said he also wants “probably most important a real ethics package that cleans up Albany once and for all.” That includes a limit to the amount of money lawmakers can earn outside of their government work, a bill that had been blocked in the Legislature this year.

“The only that’s going to happen is if we elect good Democrats to the Senate who support these positions and these policies and are going to take the state forward,” Cuomo said.

The governor has come under criticism from liberals for not having committed in the past to a Democratic state Senate. As late as the summer, Cuomo was being prodded to back the chamber flipping, later sitting down with the Democratic leadership to discuss how to help.

Now the state Democratic Committee has moved to back a field, phone banking and digital operation for the mainline conference’s efforts in the chamber, even as some grumbling remains Cuomo could use some of his $19 million war chest as long as he doesn’t earmark transfers to specific races.

Still, the efforts from Cuomo to bolster Democrats — appearing at fundraisers, contributing to campaigns — has been more robust than in previous years, underscoring the fractious nature of the election cycle at the top of the presidential ticket that could drive party turnout.

“If you had predicted this,” Cuomo said speaking of the election season, “you really could have made a fortune.”

Senate GOP Candidate Hits Back Against Cuomo (Updated)

From the Morning Memo:

While Gov. Andrew Cuomo is playing nice with Senate Democrats, Republicans on Tuesday fired a warning shot across his bow.

In a statement from GOP Senate hopeful Chris McGrath, Cuomo and the Democratic incumbent he recently endorsed, Todd Kaminsky, were paired together.

“The Governor who once bragged about reforming Albany is now running the most corrupt administration since Tammany Hall,” McGrath said. “And, Todd Kaminsky is his partner in crime.”

McGrath is running for a second time for the Long Island Senate seat vacated by disgraced former Majority Leader Dean Skelos, a district won by Kaminsky in an April special election. McGrath is now challenging Kaminsky’s bid for a full term.

McGrath is not an outlier candidate, but one who has been backed by the Senate GOP’s leadership. While not an incumbent lawmaker who would still have to work with Cuomo, McGrath’s comments underscore what could be a riff for Cuomo and a Republican conference with which he has developed a strong working relationship.

Cuomo this month endorsed Kaminsky and contributed $11,000 to his campaign. But the effort dovetails with a broader push to elect Democrats running in key down-ballot Senate races, especially on Long Island, which has been a GOP stronghold for the Senate.

In the statement, Cuomo is knocked by McGrath for the bid-rigging and bribery allegations facing the governor’s former top aide, Joe Percoco as well as for having “lied about what he knew” in the Bridgegate scandal (claims made that Cuomo and his office strenuously deny).

“If there was ever any doubt, Todd Kaminsky is now officially the candidate of Cuomo and de Blasio, who represent the corrupt status quo,” McGrath said. “I’m with the hardworking taxpayers and families of Nassau County who want stronger ethics laws, and to bring real and sweeping change to their government.”

Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi returns fire.

“Recycling Ed Cox and Rob Astorino’s ‎pathetic lies that hinge on the hearsay testimony of a convicted felon is a feeble attempt by Dean Skelos’ heir apparent to distract from the fact that he, unlike Senator Kaminsky, doesn’t support comprehensive ethics reform.”

State Democratic Committee Plans ‘Robust’ Effort For Senate Dems

The state Democratic Committee is planing a “robust” operation to aid Democrats running in down-ballot state Senate races.

The committee, which is essentially controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo, will be committing resources for the party’s Senate candidates in key and competitive districts.

The effort includes field and phone banking work as well as digital-based advertising.

“At Governor Cuomo’s direction, the state party will be undertaking a robust coordinated campaign to elect Democrats up and down the ballot, particularly in hotly contested state senate and congressional districts,” said Basil Smikle, the state Democratic Committee executive director, in a statement to Capital Tonight.

It’s unclear how much money the state committee will ultimately spend.

Liberals have been skeptical of Cuomo’s previous efforts for Senate Democrats after he has worked well with Republicans in the chamber for the past several years.

And he’s still being pushed by the labor-aligned Working Families Party to spend from some of his own campaign war chest.

“The jury’s still out on whether Cuomo will spend even $1 million of his $19 million war chest on behalf of a more progressive New York,” WFP Executive Director Bill Lipton told The New York Times.

Smikle, however, disputed Lipton’s assertion Cuomo was not helping the Senate Democrats’ cash efforts.

“The Governor has been forcefully and effectively raising money for and contributing to Senate Democrats‎, including the maximum amount allowed by law from his campaign account,” Smikle said.

“Bill Lipton’s comments that he should break campaign finance rules by exceeding maximum allowed campaign finance limitations is disturbing — particularly for someone who spends so much time talking about campaign finance reform.”

The state Democratic Committee last reported having $125,183 in cash on hand.

But the purse strings are being loosened at a critical time for the mainline Democratic conference in the narrowly divided chamber. Democratic challengers are pressing to win seats in Long Island districts, many of which are in Nassau County and the Hudson Valley.

On Monday, Cuomo was on Long Island to personally endorse Sen. Todd Kaminsky and Democratic candidate Adam Haber, who is running for an open Senate seat. At the same time, Cuomo pushed for the election of Democrat Jim Gaughran, who is running against incumbent Sen. Carl Marcellino.

The involvement from the statewide Democratic apparatus dovetails with the efforts from Cuomo in recent weeks to bolster Senate Democrats. The governor is appearing at a fundraiser for the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee as well as incumbent Democrats in Westchester and Nassau counties.

Cuomo To Appear At Second Fundraiser With Kaine

Gov. Andrew Cuomo later this evening will appear at another fundraiser for the Democratic presidential ticket, according to a copy of an invitation obtained by Capital Tonight.

Tickets to the event, to be held in New York City, range from $2,700 to $25,000.

Cuomo is appearing as a special guest with vice presidential nominee Tim Kaine as well as the actor Liam Neeson.

The email was sent out to Clinton supporters by former New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn on Monday evening.

“There are just fifteen days left until Election Day — and we are all working hard to make sure Hillary Clinton is our next President,” Quinn wrote in the email.

Cuomo earlier this month held a fundraiser with Kaine in New York City, part of an overall push for Democrats running up and down the ballot this cycle.

In Suffolk County, Cuomo Pushes For Dem Senate Hopeful

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo made a pitch for down-ballot Democratic candidates at a local fundraiser in Suffolk County last night, singling out state Senate hopeful Jim Gaughran as being particularly needed in Albany.

“We have a number of candidates running for the state Senate who are great,” Cuomo said to applause at the dinner. “We have a superstar in Jim Gaughran who has to go to the state Senate.”

The governor’s full-throated endorsement of Gaughran in a battleground Senate district held by longtime incumbent Republican Carl Marcellino comes as Democrats hope for unexpected wins on Long Island next month, helping them to retake control of the Senate.

Suffolk County is also home to Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, who is seeking a full term at the top post after succeeding the scandal-scarred former Sen. Dean Skelos as GOP leader last spring.

Cuomo for the last several weeks had rolled out plans to fundraise for Democratic incumbents like Sens. George Latimer and Todd Kaminsky, who are running in competitive suburban races in Westchester and Nassau counties, respectively. At the same time, Cuomo is maxing out his contributions to Democratic candidates.

Yesterday, Cuomo took square aim at incumbent Republican Marcellino, who was not previously thought to be on the Democrats’ top target list, but thanks largely to the controversial candidacy of GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump, many more seats are now believed to be in play.

“We should break our rear end for him,” Cuomo said of Gaughran. “He is what it’s about.”

Cuomo also told a lengthy and somewhat PG version of a story in which he was stranded at a rest stop and was solicited by a prostitute, whose offer he turned down. The story was related in conjunction with the governor’s effort to tout construction of a new welcome center on Long Island that includes a State Police presence.

Cuomo didn’t mention Marcellino, the Senate Education Committee chairman, by name. But he expressed a general frustration with some of the incumbents in Albany, even though he has declined in past campaigns to pull out all the stops in helping fellow Democrats challenge the GOP-controlled Senate.

“Albany has its share of political hacks, I’ll tell you the truth,” Cuomo said. “And it’s a bipartisan hackdom.”

Cuomo yesterday campaigned for state Senate Democrats in competitive races on Long Island and Nassau County in particular, where Republican County Executive Ed Mangano – a onetime Cuomo ally – is facing corruption charges. That’s a development the Seate Democrats also hope will contribute to their improved chances on Election Day.

The governor reportedly now believes that a GOP-controlled Senate is no longer a handy foil, but rather an impediment to achieving aspects of his progressive agenda – particularly additional ethics reforms, which have taken on new urgency thanks to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s most recent public corruption case that reaches into Cuomo’s own inner circle.

Senate Democrats say they are happy to have Cuomo’s support this time around. But Working Families Party members, who have been burned by the governor in the past, remain skeptical about just how helpful the governor plans to be before Nov. 8.

“The jury’s still out on whether Cuomo will spend even $1 million of his $19 million war chest on behalf of a more progressive New York,” WFP State Director Bill Lipton told the New York Times.

Cuomo Signs Bill Limiting Airbnb Advertising

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation on Friday designed to crack down on the online advertising of multi-family dwellings in New York City — a measure seen aimed at limiting the popular online rental service Airbnb.

The bill’s approval is a win for affordable housing advocates who have decried the impact Airbnb has had in New York City. It is also a win for the Hotel Trades Council, a small but politically influential labor union that has backed efforts to regulate Airbnb.

And the legislation was backed by the Real Estate Board of New York, a monied and influential coalition of property owners in New York City.

“This legislation is an important step toward stopping illegal behavior that takes precious housing units off the market, threatens hotel workers’ jobs and hurts the quality of life for residents in our City’s multifamily buildings,” said John Banks, III, President of the Real Estate Board of New York. “We would like to thank the Governor as well as the members of the State Senate and Assembly for addressing this critical issue.”

Airbnb, meanwhile, has signaled on Friday afternoon it will file a lawsuit to challenge the measure.

“This is an issue that was given careful, deliberate consideration, but ultimately these activities are already expressly prohibited by law,” said Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi in a statement.

“They also compromise efforts to maintain and promote affordable housing by allowing those units to be used as unregulated hotels, and deny communities significant revenue from uncollected taxes, the cost of which is ultimately borne by local taxpayers.”

Those who violate the law could face fines of up to $7,500.

The bill’s approval comes as Airbnb is planning to step up its campaign efforts in New York through a super PAC independent expenditure committee that has started running an ad blasting Republican Sen. Sue Serino’s vote for the measure.

At the same time, the company this week released a proposal that would regulate its operations to include an online registry of renters and further reforms to its business.

Cuomo’s Office Reiterates: No Collusion On Bridgegate

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office on Thursday once again refuted the testimony at the ongoing trial in New Jersey over the lane closures that he and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie discussed a never-released report that would have given an alternative reason for the closures.

Testimony was given today by Scott Rechler, a former vice chairman at the Port Authority appointed by Cuomo.

“Gov. Cuomo told me that in one of his conversations he was having with Gov. Christie, Gov. Christie mentioned to him that David Samson was, once again, complaining about Pat Foye interfering, getting involved with politics,” Rechler said, according to the Newark Star-Ledger.

Former Christie ally David Wildstein, who has pleaded guilty in connection to the scheme to close the lanes on the bridge out of political revenge, testified earlier this month the governors discussed a report that would have blamed the closures on a traffic study. The report was never released.

But in a statement from Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s office reiterated the New York-appointed executive director Pat Foye was the whistle blower in the case. The statement insists there was “no conversation” between both governors on a narrowly defined plan to have Executive Director Pat Foye stand down. Cuomo at the time the scandal was unfolding insisted his primary source of information on the lane closures was from the media.

“Today’s testimony confirms what we have said all along and further disproves Mr. Wildstein’s false hearsay testimony from earlier this month. There were long time tensions between New York and New Jersey staff at the Port Authority before, during and after Bridgegate that were discussed at all levels. That’s well known and was brought to light again in today’s testimony,” Azzopardi said. “However, there was no conversation between the Governors concerning a ‘plan’ to have Pat Foye stand down or to have the issue ‘whitewashed’ through a report. Pat Foye was in fact a whistle-blower – he never stood down and no report was ever prepared or issued.”