Andrew Cuomo

Reform Revelations (Updated)

From the Morning Memo:

Cuomo, Astorino and Hawkins have all filed questionnaires seeking the endorsement of the NYC-based good government group Citizens Union, and their answers – or lack thereof – are eye opening.

Cuomo, for example, declined to circle either “support” or “oppose” on the fill-in-the-blank portion of the questionnaire regarding whether the state attorney general should be empowered to investigate public corruption.

Underneath this section, Cuomo (or whoever filled out the survey on his behalf) wrote that he would “have to review specific legislation.”

The question of whether the AG should have more power in this realm has been an issue since Cuomo held the office.

Back then, he called for the governor – or the Legislature – to strengthen his ability to probe wrongdoing by state lawmakers in the wake of the infamous Troopergate scandal.

Cuomo’s call was not heeded by either former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (himself an ex-AG) or former Gov. David Paterson. Now that he’s governor himself, Cuomo has also declined to empower his successor, AG Eric Schneiderman.

The AG does not have subpoena power in public corruption cases, which has caused Schneiderman to get creative, teaming up with his fellow statewide Democrat, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, whose office does have that power, to prosecute the misuse of public funds.

The governor also neglected to circle either “support” or “oppose” on questions of judicial reform, saying he wants to work with the Legislature and other “stakeholders” to simplify a complicated system.

And as for specific budget reforms, the governor wasn’t interested in being nailed down on any of those, either, preferring instead to detail the reforms he has introduced into the budgeting process since taking office in January 2011.

On his questionnaire, Astorino refused to take a position on lowering campaign contribution limits for legislative and statewide candidates.

But he was clear in his opposition to limiting contributions from lobbyists, placement agents and others who do business with the state and also to closing the so-called LLC loophole.

“Well-meaning efforts to limit campaign contributions have only sent money underground,” Astorino wrote. “…Prompt public disclosure of political contributions is the best possible solution.”

Astorino said he supports all the budget reforms listed by Citizens Union, with the exception of one – limiting the ability of the governor to enact policy changes governing the use of resources in appropriation bills. The county executive didn’t take a position on that.

He did, however, express opposition to Prop. 1 – the redistricting constitutional amendment that has divided good government groups. Citizens Union is leading the charge to get it passed.

Cuomo supports Prop. 1.

It appears Hawkins did not fill out any of the “support” or “oppose” questions on the CU form. But he did express opposition to Prop. 1 and support of “full” public campaign financing. UPDATE: Hawkins over a copy of the short portion of his CU questionnaire, saying a “computer glitch” had prevented it from being sent in full.

Citizens Union said it has interviewed both Astorino and Hawkins in advance of its endorsement decision, but has so far not managed to schedule a sit-down with Cuomo.

The interview is usually required in order for a candidate to qualify for the organization’s nod. CU will announce its endorsement in the governor’s race in the coming days.

Siena Poll: Hawkins Could Eat Into Cuomo’s Final Tally

Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo continues to hold a double-digit lead over his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, with less than two weeks to go before Election Day, according to a Siena College poll released this morning.

The poll found Cuomo leading Astorino, 54-33, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins receiving 9 percent of the vote.

The result is a slight dip for Cuomo from the previous month, when Siena College found the governor leading Astorino 56-27, with Hawkins at 7 percent.

With Hawkins gaining some ground in the polls, it’s possible the Green Party candidate can eat into a chunk of Cuomo’s overall total come Election Day.

“If Hawkins does that well on Election Day – something third party candidates often don’t do – then it will almost certainly make this year’s race closer than four years ago and keep Cuomo well below his total vote from 2010,” said Siena College pollster Steve Greenberg.

Cuomo received 63 percent of the vote against Republican Carl Paladino in 2010.

Hawkins is a proven vote getter for the Green Party. He received more than 50,000 votes in 2010 to give the party automatic ballot status this election.

Hawkins is hoping to tap into liberal dissatisfaction with Cuomo, and gain some of the supporters of Fordham Law School professor Zephyr Teachout, who ran a surprisingly strong primary challenge to the governor in September.

Still, the poll shows Cuomo blowing out Astorino in New York City, where he leads 72-16. He also has the support of 79 percent of self-identified liberal voters.

Upstate, Cuomo’s lead is smaller: He leads Astorino 47-38.

The race is closest in the suburban counties, where it is a virtual tie. Cuomo is actually trailing Astorino 44-46.

And the governor, who has pushed hard on his 10-point Women’s Equality Act, leads Astorino among female voters 65 percent to 25 percent, according to the poll’s crosstabs.

Cuomo has a favorability rating of 54 percent, compared to 43 percent of voters who do not have a favorable view of him – the highest unfavorable rating he’s garnered from Siena to date.

Astorino, a first-time statewide candidate, continues to show a high negative rating: 41 percent of voters have an unfavorable view of him, compared to 32 percent who view him favorably.

In the other statewide races, Democratic AG Eric Schneiderman holds a 20-point lead over his Republican challenger, John Cahill, 55-35. Schneiderman’s lead grew by 5 percentage points from last month – likely thanks to the fact that the AG is now running TV ads.

Meanwhile, in the race for state comptroller, incumbent Democrat Tom DiNapoli leads Republican Onondaga County Comptroller 58-31 – the largest gap of the three statewide races.

The poll of 748 likely voters was conducted from Oct. 16 through Oct. 20. It has a margin of error of 3.6 percentage points.

SNY1014 Crosstabs by Nick Reisman

Panepinto Fights Back; Says Governor Will Come Around

After weeks of questions over why Governor Cuomo hasn’t endorsed him and a constant barrage of attacks from his political rivals, State Senate Candidate Marc Panepinto is firing back.

“I’m talking about the issues. My opponents want to talk about negative things. This guy did this. This guy did that,” Panepinto said. 

The Buffalo Democrat will appear on the Democratic and Working Families lines on a crowed Ballot in New York’s 60th State Senate District.  His chief rival, Incumbent Senator Mark Grisanti, lost the GOP Primary in September but not the support of his Republican colleagues.  

The Senate Republican Campaign Committee is behind a scathing attack against Panepinto.  The TV ad, details a 2001 election law misdemeanor.  It accuses Panepinto of submitting “blatantly fraudulent voter petitions” and “personally forging signatures of handicapped voters and voters who had been dead for years.”

Panepinto claims he signed off on some signatures even though he wasn’t present when they were collected. Those signatures turned out to be bogus and the Democrat pleaded guilty to making false witness statements on petitions.

“Here’s somebody who’s been associated with organizations that affiliated with racketeering.  He also had some other allegations against him that have to do with more election fraud.  So it seems to be a pattern of abuse that this individual has. So we have make sure that this person is not elected to the state senate,” said SRCC Chair Cathy Young. 

Panepinto briefly lost his legal license and has consistently expressed remorse over what he’s called a “mistake.”  More than a decade later, Panepinto told Time Warner Cable News Reporter Ryan Whalen he’s moved on.

“I’ve paid the price for that. It’s ancient history and so if they want to continue to talk about what happened thirteen years ago, that’s fine. I think the voters want to know what their plans are for the next two years,” said Panepinto. 

On top of that, Panepinto is facing new questions over his wife’s appearance in his campaign flyers. A man claiming to be an unaffiliated voter filed a complaint against Panepinto because he used his wife’s image, State Supreme Court Judge Catherine Nugent-Panepinto, in campaign flyers.

“This attack on my wife is disgusting,” Panepinto said.

Panepinto is confident his use of her image does not violate election law.

“The Office of Court Administration provided my wife with documentation that it is permissible for her to be in my commercials, in my advertisements as long as she’s not identified as a judge and we don’t even identify her by name,” Panepinto added. 

As for Governor Cuomo’s endorsement, Panepinto told reporters at a rally for the Women’s Equality Act in Buffalo Tuesday that he’s not concerned about it.  Panepinto pointed out he stands with the Governor on the WEA and the Buffalo Billion.

“I support the Governor on those agenda points and most of his agenda.  The fact he hasn’t endorsed yet doesn’t concern me.  He knows where he needs to be to pass the Women’s Equality Act and that’s not with Senator Mark Grisanti,” said Panepinto. 

Grisanti is hoping to buck the odds and win on the Independence line.  Kevin Stocker is the endorsed Republican and Attorney Timothy Gallagher is the endorsed Conservative Party Candidate.


Harper Collins Rents Cuomo’s Campaign List

If you are a donor or a regular receiver of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign emails, you may have gotten an email from HarperCollins earlier today that promoted “All Things Possible.”

That’s because the book publisher, for an unspecified price, paid for the campaign’s email list in order to blast out the promotional note.

“Harper did rent a list from Governor Cuomo’s campaign for one time use to promote Governor Cuomo’s new book,” said Tina Andreadis, a spokeswoman for the publisher.

The use of the Cuomo campaign email list, as well as an email list from the state Democratic Committee, was first reported by The Daily News.

The cost of the email list will likely be reflected in Cuomo’s next campaign-finance report filed with the state Board of Elections.

Cuomo’s contract with the company is worth at least $700,000, according to a financial disclosure form the governor filed with state ethics regulators earlier this year.

Cuomo has promoted the book in appearances on David Letterman and in an interview with Charlie Rose. He also took a tour of local TV stations via satellite with guidelines being only the book would be discussed.

Previously, the governor’s re-election campaign emailed select donors to invite them to a book signing event at Barnes & Noble in New York City.

Sales for “All Things Possible” is currently ranked at 6,504 on Amazon.

Updated: Bill O’Reilly, a spokesman for Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino, weighs in.

“Andrew Cuomo is twisting himself into a pretzel to explain all the government and campaign resources he is spending promoting a book for personal enrichment,” O’Reilly said. “Now he is caught giving Harper Collins an email list to try to buoy staggeringly poor book sales. If Harper Collins truly rented the list from Governor Cuomo, let’s see the terms of that rental agreement and the time stamped emails proving when it was coordinated. Mr. Cuomo said he’d be the most transparent governor in history. Here’s an opportunity to show it.”

NY GOP: Cuomo Running ‘Mean-Spirited’ Campaign, ‘Afraid’ to Debate

On the eve of the first – and it appears only – gubernatorial debate, which will take place tomorrow night in Buffalo, the state GOP has released a new TV ad trashing Gov. Andrew Cuomo for running a “mean-spirited” campaign and being “afraid” to debate his Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino.

The ad claims Cuomo is on the attack against Astorino because he is “failing” New Yok on taxes and job creation.

It also maintains the governor is under federal investigation for witness tampering and obsctuction of justice, which isn’t entirely true, though it has been speculated that those could be charges under consideration – if any charges are indeed to be brought – by US Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office is investigating the demise of Cuomo’s now-defunct corruption-busing Moreland Commission.

Also, there have indeed been tax cuts during Cuomo’s four years in the governor’s office, and according to data released today by the state Department of Labor, the statewide unemployment rate has fallen from 7.4 percent in September 2013 to 5.6 percent last month. Meanwhile, the national jobless rate improved from 7 percent a year ago to 5.7 percent this part September.

The state party is stepping in to assist Astorino in the final weeks of the campaign with this ad, which will run through Election Day. But it’s going to be difficult to make a dent in the flood of TV ads – both positive and negative – that the Cuomo campaign and the state Democratic Party have been running, since they are both flush with many more millions of dollars worth of campaign cash than Astorino has managed to raise.

Cuomo, Astorino, Green Party gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins and the Libertarian Party’s Michael McDermott will square off tomorrow in a debate sponsored by The Buffalo News and WNED/WBFO of Buffalo. The debate will be televised, and will kick off at 7 p.m.

Cuomo had offered to debate Astorino one-on-one on WNYC public radio, but Astorino rejected the offer, saying any head-to-head debates between the two major party candidates should be televised. Astorino had previously called for eight debates with the governor.

Here’s the script of the GOP’s new ad; the party is not disclosing the size of the buy or any details about where the spot is running:

Announcer: “Andrew Cuomo spent millions on campaign ads filled with lies. The reason: Cuomo’s failing New York.

Under Cuomo we have the highest taxes, and record job losses. Cuomo is at the center of Albany corruption, under federal investigation for obstruction of justice, witness tampering.

Cuomo failed on jobs, failed on taxes, and failed us. That’s why Cuomo is running a negative, mean-spirited campaign. And that’s why Cuomo is afraid to debate his opponent.”

Astorino: Block Planes With Passengers From Ebola-Stricken Nations

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should direct the state Department of Health to shut down gates at JFK International Airport and block planes carrying passengers from west African from disembarking, Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino said in a conference call with reporters.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, ripped Cuomo’s response to the Ebola outbreak, which so far has infected two nurses.

Astorino in particular knocked Cuomo for at first saying a travel ban from west African nations wouldn’t work and then on Sunday expressed an openness to such a ban.

“We’ve got a governor right now who ridiculed me two weeks for saying this. He said it wouldn’t work,” Astorino said in the call. “Now yesterday he said he’d consider it, and yet I think he sees it as a nuisance during his book tour.”

Any flight ban would be up to the federal government, a move that Cuomo on Sunday said should be “seriously” considered at this point.

While there aren’t any direct flights from west African countries into JFK, Astorino said the governor should block incoming flights with passengers who originate from the region from disembarking.

“We’re going to be dealing with a major public health crisis soon,” Astorino said. “It’s a matter of when, not if.”

Astorino had initially stated passengers from Ebola-stricken countries should be barred from the U.S., but later in the call expanded on that by saying the entire plane’s passengers, including U.S. citizens, should be blocked

“We can’t just keep our heads on the sand,” Astorino said. “We should do everything possible to prevent this from happening.”

Ebola cannot be contracted through the air, water or through casual contact, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

Cuomo Plans More Book Promotion

All things are possible, but Gov. Andrew Cuomo says “interruptions” such as governing and running for re-election are interfering with his promoting of his new memoir, released last week.

Cuomo, in New York City earlier today to discuss airport upgrades with Vice President Joe Biden, dismissed questions about the poor reviews the book have received on Amazon (which, to be fair, were likely generated by an army of Internet-based Cuomo haters).

Speaking with reporters, Cuomo said the promotion of the book will be done “over a period of time” and not in one multiple week burst.

“It’s just started, right? I’m introducing the book, but it’s not like I can do it like you normally introduce a book,” Cuomo said. “You normally introduce a book and that’s all you do for weeks is sell the book. I’ve had a couple of interruptions that have happened in the mean time here. I have an election, I’m the governor, I have a day job, I’ve just been to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. I’m going to do this over a period of time as opposed to a sprint.”

Cuomo’s Republican opponent, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, has knocked the governor’s book promotion tour as a way of capturing publicity in the final weeks of the campaign season.

In a brief interview on Capital Tonight, Cuomo said the book’s timing was not related to the election, but meant to allow him to discuss personal issues that had been on his mind.

Bonacic Doesn’t Expect A Problem For Stein’s Confirmation (Updated)

Senate Judiciary Chairman John Bonacic does not expect a fight over Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s nomination of Leslie Stein to the state Court of Appeals, the Orange County Republican said in a statement released Monday morning.

Bonacic said he’s “disappointed” that Cuomo chose to not re-appoint Judge Victoria Graffeo, an appointee of Republican Gov. George Pataki.

Nevertheless, Bonacic added Stein, who sits on the Appellate Division court in the Albany area, has the “necessary qualifications.”

“I am disappointed the Governor did not appoint Judge Graffeo based on her wisdom, experience, and exemplary service to the bench during her tenure,” Bonacic said. “This is the Governor’s choice as he sees fit, and nominee Judge Leslie Stein has the necessary qualifications to sit on the Court of Appeals. I do not think there will be a problem with her confirmation.”

Bonacic hasn’t always see eye-to-eye with Cuomo on judicial nominations. In 2013, Bonacic raised issues with Jenny Rivera’s nomination to the bench, pointing to what he saw as a relatively thin resume as well as “social engineering” on the bench.

The statement suggests any fight over Stein’s nomination to the state’s highest court will be nominal at best.

Cuomo held off on announcing his decision for the Court of Appeals slot by two weeks in order to avoid a messy confirmation battle before Election Day.

Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos had urged Cuomo to re-appoint Graffeo, but LGBT advocates and Democratic lawmakers had called on the governor to make a change.

The pending confirmation of Stein means the state Court of Appeals will shift to Democratic control.

Cuomo has another appointment to the court to make at the end of the year with Judge Robert Smith retires.

Updated: Astorino spokesman Bill O’Reilly accuses Cuomo in a statement of kowtowing to Mayor Bill de Blasio with his nomination of Stein.

“Andrew Cuomo knows no shame. He ejects a widely respected judge from the State Appellate Court as a political payback to the Bill de Blasio wing of the Democratic Party on a Friday afternoon, and then jets off to the Caribbean to avoid full press scrutiny on his action,” O’Reilly said. “Everywhere you turn, this governor is doing something sneaky and underhanded.”

Cuomo, Decked Out In White, Pitches Education

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest campaign television ad shows the softer side of a politician who is known for having sharp elbows.

The spot shows Cuomo, decked out in a white sweater, helping his teen-aged daughter with her homework.

The ad began running over the weekend.

In the ad, Cuomo touts his education record: A new teacher evaluation law and a push for a $2 billion borrowing plan that’s before voters this November aimed at technology purchases for schools.

“Education is the gift we give our children, and they deserve the very best,” Cuomo narrates in the ad. “Over the years, I’ve helped my kids by just being there. That’s why I want real teacher and school evaluations; to stop over-testing our children; not to use Common Core scores for at least five years, and then only if our children are ready. I want to invest $2 billion dollars to build the new technology classrooms of tomorrow. And I still believe the best education equipment is the kitchen table, and the best teacher is the parent.”

The ad appears to be part of a broader effort to round out Cuomo’s harder edges as he runs for a second term.

The governor’s memoir, released last week, has him discussing his ups and downs in life, including his divorce and failed 2002 primary campaign. Cuomo is guarded about both his personal life and especially his family.

But this ad appears to have been shot in the home he shares with Food Network star Sandra Lee, featuring a rare addition of one of his children in a campaign spot (Cuomo and Lee, along with his three daughters, appeared in a video this month to support the Women’s Equality Act).

Policy-wise, the ad is interesting on another level.

The ad’s line about a moratorium for using Common Core scores for “at least five years” is especially intriguing. It’s unclear if the governor is pursuing a new policy stance for a second term. At the same time, Cuomo says he would only allow the test scores “only if our children are ready” but no guidelines are given as to how that would be defined.

The education angle also comes as Cuomo’s Republican opponent, Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, runs on the Stop Common Core ballot line.

Parents and teachers have blasted the state’s roll out of Common Core in New York and the state Legislature this year agreed to altering aspects of the standards when it comes to student testing and later teacher evaluations.

After Caribbean Swing, Cuomo Plans Bronx Rally

After a campaign swing through the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico, Gov. Andrew Cuomo will appear at a rally in the Bronx on Sunday, according to an invitation to the event.

The rally is planned at Hostos Community College, with doors opening at 1:45.

Cuomo traveled to the Dominican Republic on Thursday and met with the country’s president on Friday.

The governor pledged to return to the country should he win a second trip as he focuses on trade missions overseas.

Cuomo rarely stepped out of New York during his first term, but now plans to travel heavily in the second term, with trips to China, Italy and Mexico being considered.

That same day, he traveled to Puerto Rico and received the endorsement of the governor there.

The trips signal an aggressive courting of the Hispanic community back in here in New York. In the Dominican Republic, he made a point of praising the growing influence of native-born Dominican lawmakers in New York (Cuomo was in both the Dominican and in Puerto Rico with a contingent of elected officials who traveled separately).

Cuomo’s Republican rival, Rob Astorino, has criticized the trips, saying the governor should be focusing on Hispanic neighbors in New York.

Bronx Rally Invite by Nick Reisman