Andrew Cuomo

Arrest Made In Shooting Death Of Carey Gabay

From our colleagues at NY1:

Police have made an arrest in connection with the deadly shooting of an aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo ahead of last year’s West Indian Day Parade in New York.

The NYPD says Micah Alleyne, 24, of Brooklyn was arraigned Friday on murder, reckless endangerment and weapons possession. Carey Gabay was shot in the head last September during J’ouvert celebrations.

He died more than week after the incident.

Gabay served as assistant counsel to the governor and later the First Deputy Counsel of the Economic Development Corporation.

Gabay’s death spurred Cuomo to reignite the issue of gun control, especially the flow of illegal firearms into New York from other states.

Updated: Cuomo issued a statement in response to the arrest.

“Carey Gabay was an exemplary public servant who lost his life in a senseless tragedy. Today’s arrest is a major step forward in the pursuit of justice for Carey’s family and loved ones,” Cuomo said. “I commend the investigators and prosecutors for their tireless efforts to ensure those responsible for Carey’s death are held fully accountable for their actions.”

Cuomo Takes Low-Key Ethics Approach

From the Morning Memo:

It’s not a grand, public campaign he’s running as good-government advocates would have liked.

And with only a handful of legislative session days to go, it’s unclear how Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s low-key approach to ethics reform legislation will work out.

The push began on Tuesday with an unveiling of eight bills designed to close the LLC loophole in state election, all impacting different houses, but all touching gubernatorial campaigns.

With the Memorial Day weekend approaching, Cuomo did not release any new program bills for ethics and campaign finance reform, but did lament while on Long Island the existing loopholes in the law.

“We have loopholes so big you can run a truck through them and they almost negate the impact of the limit to begin with and that’s the LLC loophole, that’s the quote-un-quote independent expenditure committees that are set up but really are just a shadow campaign finance system,” Cuomo said while touring renovations to Jones Beach.

“I think we have a lot of work to do and I’m cautiously optimistic we’re going to get it done.”

Cuomo has undertaken major campaign efforts in the past to crisscross the state and drum up support for an issue, most recently on increasing the state’s minimum wage to $15.

But the governor this week indicated such an effort on ethics and campaign finance reform wouldn’t have the same impact on voters who are more concerned with immediate pocketbook-related issues.

Hours after Cuomo spoke to reporters, the state attorney general’s office on Thursday raided the office at SUNY Polytechnic that had been used by lobbyist Todd Howe, who has become a central figure in the investigation over the Buffalo Billion.

Investigators reviewed Howe’s voicemail and computer while searching the office.

The AG’s office has been investigating possible bid rigging at SUNY Poly’s development arm, Fuller Road Management.

“SUNY Poly cooperated fully today with the NYAG’s office request to search an office previously used by Todd Howe at our Albany campus,” SUNY Poly said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate fully with their investigation.“

Howe had represented a number of companies with business before the Buffalo Billion and was listed as a lobbyist for SUNY Poly, which plays a key role in distributing economic development spending.

A former aide and confidant to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Joe Percoco, is under scrutiny as well after it was revealed he received payments from two companies with business in economic development projects while running the governor’s re-election campaign.

On Wednesday, the state Public Authorities Control Board approved an additional $485.5 million in spending for a cornerstone Buffalo Billion project at the RiverBend site, home to a SolarCity plant.

Cuomo: Closing Loopholes In Election Law ‘Top’ Issue

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at an event on Long Island Thursday said closing loopholes in state election law — ranging from the rules governing LLC contributions to independent expenditure committees — remains a top priority for him in the closing days of the legislative session.

“We have loopholes so big you can run a truck through them and they almost negate the impact of the limit to begin with and that’s the LLC loophole, that’s the quote-un-quote independent expenditure committees that are set up but really are just a shadow campaign finance system,” Cuomo said while touring renovations to Jones Beach.

“I think we have a lot of work to do and I’m cautiously optimistic we’re going to get it done.”

Only time is running short to do so. Lawmakers left Albany on Wednesday for the long holiday weekend and won’t return to the Capitol until June 1. There are nine remaining session days lawmakers are scheduled to be in town.

Cuomo this week unveiled eight different bills that are designed to lessen the impact of LLC giving. Currently, donors can give unlimited funds through a network of LLCs — an arrangement Cuomo himself has benefited from in his political campaigns.

“Closing the loopholes is at the top,” Cuomo added. “I think there’s no doubt that ethics reform is one of the priorities.”

Senate Republicans have received the LLC legislation coolly, insisting other areas are ripe for reform, such as boosting penalties for those who violate contribution limits by donating through party committees — part of an investigation into Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio’s political activities. GOP lawmakers have also pointed to labor unions and their subsidiaries not being impacted by LLC loophole legislation.

More complicated would be to cut off the spigot of independent expenditure committees in the post-Citizens United age of big political spending.

Cuomo has also pushed lawmakers to reach an agreement on pension forfeiture for those convicted of corruption through a constitutional amendment. The GOP-led Senate approved one version of the amendment last year as part of the budget agreement, but Assembly Democrats balked at the proposal. Now, gridlock has set in over the amendment debate and its scope.

The governor stressed the forfeiture measure should be approved.

“I think it adds insults to injury to tell the people of this state that the person who is convicted of abusing the public trust and you’re supposed to pay them a pension,” he said. “That is lunacy, quite frankly.”

Time Running Short For Any Ethics Deal

From the Morning Memo:

The clock on the legislative session is winding down, and yet there’s been little to no public progress made on ethics or campaign finance reform in Albany. Lawmakers say it’s getting late in the year to reach a deal.

“I would say right now my optimism is low because we’ve had the entire session here to do something specific,” said Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.

Time is running short in Albany, with 9 legislative session days to go before lawmakers leave the Capitol for the rest of the year and focus, in most cases, on running for re-election.

But signs of any agreement on ethics reform, at least for now, appear elusive.

In the state Senate, lawmakers are at odds over proposals to ban unlimited donations from limited liability companies. A bill that would have done so was bottled up in a committee earlier in May.

“I never say never, otherwise why would I get up in the morning and come back here so, there’s always room for hope and a chance,” said state Sen. Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan. “I’ve continuously said all year why are we wasting the crisis of corruption? Why aren’t we fixing ourselves?”

In the Assembly, meanwhile, a constitutional amendment to strip corrupt officials of their pensions was approved last year, but that version differs from what was passed by the Senate. Lawmakers there are growing frustrated the amendment will ever pass.

“There’s several version of pension forfeiture bills out there,” said Assemblyman Dan Stec, a Republican from Queensbury. “I’m at the point now where any of them is better than doing none of them. It may be one that is yet to be even drafted.”

For his part, Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans a roll out of ethics reform bills over the next several days. He released eight different versions of a bill to close the LLC loophole on Tuesday.

“We’ll talk about income limits. We’ll talk independence,” Cuomo said. “Then we’ll talk about term limits, but we have a full agenda.”

Cuomo: No Reason To Stop Investing In Upstate Because Of Investigation

The investigation into economic development spending should not hinder further investment in key projects, Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted while in Syracuse on Wednesday.

Cuomo’s comments come as the state Public Authorities Control Board this afternoon approved $485.5 million in spending for a key project in the Buffalo Billion program, which is under federal investigation.

Cuomo in his comments to reporters, indicated the investigation was limited in its scope to a handful of individuals, believed to be lobbyist Todd Howe and former gubernatorial aide and confidant Joe Percoco.

“This is a major effort the state is running that is working extraordinarily well and is vitally important to upstate New York,” Cuomo said. “There is no reason to stop investing in upstate New York, to hurt the upstate economy, because a couple of people may or may not have done something wrong.”

No has been arrested or charged, but the swirling investigations have led to lawmakers calling for increased oversight of how economic development money is being spent in New York. Assembly Democrats indicated today at the PACB meeting they wanted to take a broader role in oversight of Buffalo Billion spending.

The Buffalo Billion program has been a signature push for western New York’s economy undertaken by Cuomo since his first term as governor. SUNY Polytechnic, which has been a key entity for economic development spending in the program, is being probed by the state attorney general for potential bid rigging.

Cuomo, for his part, pointed to the hiring of a “top shelf” former prosecutor, Bart Schwartz, to review and investigate Buffalo Billion contracting.

“You have questions raised about the conduct of several individuals,” Cuomo said. “That’s now being investigated by the U.S. attorney. We also started our own internal investigation by a former prosecutor.”

Cuomo Admin: Up To Investigator To Release Buffalo Billion Report (Updated)

It is unclear if the report being compiled by independent investigator Bart Schwartz will be publicly released, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top counsel on Tuesday told reporters.

“It’s not our decision, it’s his,” said administration counsel Alphonso David. “He’s an independent investigator being retained by the state.”

Updated: Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi sent this statement along.

“Mr. Schwartz will make his findings public unless a law enforcement agency determines that it would interfere with their work,” he said.

Schwartz was hired by Cuomo’s office earlier this month after acknowledging a federal investigation was underway into the Buffalo Billion, Cuomo’s signature economic development program.

Schwartz is being charged with reviewing contracts under the program as well as giving the final go-ahead on spending.

Cuomo on Tuesday said in a gaggle with reporters a contract for Schwartz was yet to be finalized, but would be publicly available soon.

Cuomo called Schwartz a “credible, independent operator.”

Meanwhile, a vote before the Public Authorities Control Board determining whether to approve $485.5 million in spending for a Buffalo Billion-related project should be approved, Cuomo said.

:I believe it will. I believe it should,” Cuomo said. “These economic developmental programs in upstate New York are vitally important and have worked extraordinarily well. Well, there are questions about what one or two people. Alright, let’s get the facts.”

Cuomo Plans To Unveil More Reform Measures

Gov. Andrew Cuomo plans to introduce more ethics and campaign finance reform legislation after unveiling a package of measures designed to close the LLC loophole for a variety of state elected offices.

“We will be pushing for the broader package,” Cuomo said. “I’ll do it one at a time to focus on it.”

Cuomo indicated those measures will include to cap outside income of state lawmakers as well as term limits.

“We have a full agenda,” Cuomo said. “I want to make the point issue by issue to actually drum it home if you will.”

The effort comes with 10 legislative session days to go and counting before the Assembly and Senate leave Albany for the rest of year and (for the broad majority of them) run for re-election.

Reform measures have stalled in recent months, with Senate Republicans indicating they oppose a cap on outside income, while they remain at odds with Democratic lawmakers in the Assembly over differing measures for stripping corrupt officials of their pensions through a constitutional amendment.

The reform push this month also comes as Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development program is under investigation by the U.S. attorney’s office as is the fundraising efforts by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Good-government groups have prodded Cuomo on conducting a public campaign of sorts on behalf of ethics reform legislation, insisting that would be an effective means of pushing the Legislature on the issue after a series of corruption scandals have rocked the Capitol.

But Cuomo has been hesitant to take on such an effort, arguing on Tuesday such a plan wouldn’t sway voters.

“A quote-un-quote campaign for ethics is not really effective,” Cuomo said. “It does not have the same resonance. It’s not about them. People want a clean government, but it does not have a direct effect on them.”

Challenging Legislature, Cuomo Unveils 8 LLC Closure Bills

In an effort to dare state lawmakers into passing a version of a bill to close the loophole in state election that allows for unlimited contributions through limited liability companies, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced plans to introduce no fewer than eight different proposals to deal with the issue.

Call it Choose Your Own Adventure: LLC Loophole Edition.

“Pass all of them, or as many as you’d like, but at a minimum, pass the one impacting anyone running for the office of the Governor,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I will go first – pass it and I will sign it into law today.”

The bills Cuomo has backed provide varying degrees of LLC closure coverage, but all include campaign fundraising by candidates for governor.

The permutations include turning off the LLC loophole spigot for all state elected offices, banning it for the Legislature as a whole, candidates for Senate, candidates for Assembly, candidates for attorney general and comptroller, as well as measures covering the AG and comptroller races separately.

One bill would just close the LLC loophole solely in the race for governor.

The effort is an attempt by Cuomo to call the question on LLC loophole giving. Cuomo is himself a prodigious fundraiser and has taken advantage of the loophole, which allows single donors to give unlimited amounts of money through a web of LLCs.

Cuomo has declined to voluntarily forego donations from LLCs, saying he would not want to unilaterally disarm and leave himself at a disadvantage.

“The people of New York are demanding change and it’s time we took action to restore the public trust by closing the LLC loophole and bringing fairness to our campaign finance system,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“For years, I have proposed closing the LLC loophole – one of the most egregious flaws in our campaign finance system – and every year the bill has stalled. This year, I am introducing eight different bills to close the LLC loophole – one for each elected office in the state.”

All of the bills backed by Cuomo would treat LLCs as traditional corporations under state election law and cap their contributions at $5,000 with the intent of having their owners not avoid disclosure requirements.

The caps would apply to donations provided directly to a candidate or through a political party or committee.

Cuomo’s introduction of eight different proposals is, in many ways, a classic legislative maneuver for the governor and could help him reclaim some high ground in a push for ethics and campaign finance reform before the legislative session ends next month.

At the same time, introducing multiple bills could allow each half of the Legislature to pass differing versions they prefer.

Good-government advocates have pushed Cuomo in recent weeks to undertake a public campaign for reform in the wake of the prison sentences for the two former legislative leaders in the Senate and Assembly, Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver.

Senate Republicans in particular have been hesitant to take up the legislation to close LLC giving. Efforts to close the loophole at the state Board of Elections — which initially created the issue through an interpretation of a 1996 federal law — have also be rebuffed.

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan in a statement said the real concern should be broader disclosure of political giving and called the LLC loophole issue a “red-herring.”

“If the Legislature and Governor are serious about reforming our campaign finance system and restoring the public trust, it won’t achieved by closing the LLC loophole, but rather through a comprehensive bipartisan approach that addresses the reality of the post-Citizens United landscape and brings disclosure and sunlight to the Capitol,” Flanagan said.

Republicans have pointed out the LLC loophole proposals in the past have done little to stem the influence of labor unions and their subsidiaries.

Legislative Leaders Indicate Support For PACB Spending

The top legislative leaders in the Democratic-led Assembly and GOP-controlled Senate on Tuesday indicated they support approving $485.5 million in spending for a subsidiary of the under-investigation SUNY Polytechnic, saying the money is vital for the continuation of the economic development program in western New York.

“There’s a general belief that it’s a worthwhile project,” Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said. “There are a series of questions that we put forward and we’re just waiting to get those answers back and then I think everything will be fine.”

Added Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan: “It’s critical to economic development in the state of New York, it’s critical to western New York.”

The vote for the Public Authorities Control Board is scheduled for Wednesday after it was delayed a week due to scheduling issues, according to the state Division of Budget.

The money is set to go toward an entity formed by SUNY Poly, which is being investigated for bid rigging by the state attorney general’s office. The money is part of a broader spending effort to the RiverBend project, the site of a SolarCity factory in western New York.

The project is a component of the Buffalo Billion program, an economic development effort that is being investigated by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.

Both the Assembly and Senate have votes to approve the spending, as does the Division of Budget, which is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration.

Still, lawmakers have questioned the spending, while Cuomo himself has said the funding is to be reviewed by the independent investigator his office hired, Bart Schwartz.

“There are a lot of vehicles for oversight which should take place,” Flanagan said. “But I don’t think that should be an excuse for not moving ahead and making sure we approve jobs for the economy.”

Cuomo Urges NY Dems To Spread ‘Gospel’ At DNC

From the Morning Memo:

As Hillary Clinton’s slog to the Democratic presidential nomination continues in a protracted primary battle with Bernie Sanders, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told New York Democrats on Sunday night to spread the “gospel” of New York’s liberal policy victories at this summer’s party convention in Philadelphia.

Cuomo, who was introduced by his sometimes-rival Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, stressed the need for party unity. And, without explicitly saying so, provided a blueprint for Clinton supporters who are trying to convince Sanders backers to support her nomination this fall.

“We’re not just giving speeches in New York,” Cuomo said. “We’re making government work. That’s what it’s all about and that’s the Democratic Party at its best. You preach that gospel at the convention and we’re going to bring this Democratic Party together. We’re going to win in November, Hillary’s going to be the next president.”

Cuomo, who has been a Clinton surrogate and endorsed her bid when she announced a second White House run last year, listed a series of his own accomplishments as governor, ranging from the passage of the SAFE Act, the legalization of same-sex marriage, and most recently the passage of a $15 minimum wage as well as a paid family leave program.

“Look at what we’ve done here in New York,” Cuomo said. “We’ve done more to advance justice in the last six years than has been done in the preceding 60.”

(And, as his administration is facing an investigation for the signature economic development program the Buffalo Billion, Cuomo touted his efforts to revive the regional economy, to loud applause. “We have invested more in the upstate economy than any administration of the history of this state,” he said.)

Cuomo derided presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump and, as he has before, mocked the proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.

“They say they can do one thing, which is build a wall,” Cuomo said. “Who knew Trump was really a carpenter after all of this? That’s the only thing government can do. No immigration, no rights, no women’s equality, but we’re going to build a wall.”

But in many respects, Cuomo’s remarks were aimed at unifying his own party after a bruising Democratic nominating season.

In New York’s April contest, Clinton defeated Sanders. But the primary showed a split among Democratic voters: Sanders won most upstate counties, while Clinton was victorious in cities and downs tae.

Cuomo acknowledged in his remarks, too, how both major political parties are split. For the Democrats, Sanders has threatened to take his primary fight to the convention itself in order to gain concessions from the leadership such as reforms to the primary nominating system as well as to shift the platform to the left.

Mathematically Clinton is expected to clinch the needed delegates in order to win the nomination.

But there has been some concern from Democrats nationally the effort to unify and stop Trump is being hindered by the ongoing primary and Sanders’s attacks.

“It’s not just rhetoric,” Cuomo said. “We can actually help you in your life. We can get things done.”