Mar 4th - 1:26 pm
Despite Sen. Tony Avella’s defection last week, which was widely viewed as a momentum check for the Senate Democrats heading into another crucial election year, the conference managed to raise a significant chunk of cash at its Albany fund-raiser last night.
According to Sen. Mike Gianaris, who heads the DSCC, the event at Taste on Beaver Street brought in more than $300,000 and attracted a “who’s who” of Democratic politics. (He declined to name names, but did say more than 100 people showed up).
” The message is clear,” Gianaris told me during a brief telephone interview this morning. “People realize that even with the occasional zigs and zags, overall we are very strong. We have retired our debt. We have new leaders. We’re feeling pretty good about our chances, and apparently activists do as well.”
Gianaris said $300,000 is the largest amount the Democrats have raised at a single event since he took over the DSCC from Sen. Jeff Klein in December 2010.
The conference can definitely use the money.
While the Democrats have finally gotten out from under the multimillion dollar debt that has been weighing them down for years, they didn’t have much left over after finally paying that off. As of mid-January, they had just under $200 on hand in their regular DSCC account and $43,100 in their housekeeping account.
I’ll be speaking to Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins about the upcoming elections, Avella’s departure, and the primary threat she might be facing from a Westchester County legislator on Capital Tonight at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Mar 4th - 12:51 pm
It turns out that not just one, but two former political heavyweights who did time on tax evasion charges are connected to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s April 4 campaign fund-raiser in Tarrytown.
As we reported earlier today, former Republican Sen. Nick Spano, who was released from prison last spring after pleading guilty in 2012 to tax evasion charges, sent an email to his contacts announcing that his lobbying firm is hosting the event, and trying to drum up attendance.
Upon reading that blog item, a source emailed to say that he had received an invitation to the fund-raiser via email from Paul Adler, the former chairman of the Rockland County Democratic Party who pleaded guilty in 2001 to bribery and tax evasion charges.
According to Adler’s email, which was forwarded to me by the source, the “Hudson Valley for Cuomo Reception” is an annual event – a “tradition” that began in 2009, Adler wrote, “when we all urged Andrew Cuomo to run for Governor of the Great State of New York.”
“In one short term in office, Andrew Cuomo has worked hard to put NYS back on track. The Governor’s leadership has shown the impact that a responsive and effective government can have on the lives of its people,” Adler continued.
“Now, we need to demonstrate our support for the Governor and his re-election efforts in 2014. Your early and continued support is greatly appreciated and the Governor has committed himself to seek another term to finish re-building NYS back into the Empire State.”
“With your generous support at this event, Andrew Cuomo can continue to: Create Jobs, Cut Taxes, Put Students First, Reduce Gun Violence, Provide Affordable Housing, Make Casino Gambling a Realty and finish the construction of the New Tappan Zee Bridge on time and on budget.”
Attached to Adler’s email is the official invitation to the Cuomo reception – the same invite Spano attached to his email.
The Spano email didn’t make it clear whether Cuomo’s campaign committee was connected to – or aware of – the ex-senator’s efforts on the governor’s behalf. Spano urged recipients to direct questions to him. Adler, on the other hand, includes the phone number and email address of Tom Giordano, the managing director of Cuomo 2014.
I emailed Josh Vlasto, who recently left the administration to work full time on Cuomo’s re-election campaign, to ask if the campaign planned to continue having Spano as a host of the April 4 event. So far, I have no recevied a reply.
Adler is a well known real estate broker and Democratic operative in the Hudson Valley. He was a prominent supporter of Hillary Clinton’s when she ran for the US Senate in 2000. Last year, Adler and his wife, Mary, co-chaired a fund-raiser headlined for Clinton on behalf of then-NYC mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, who was the campaign manager of Clinton’s Senate run.
Adler was sentenced to 19 months behind bars in 2002 after pleading guilty to federal corruption charges - including accepting bribes from developers and attempting to influence members of a local zoning board. He also pleaded guilty to tax evasion for failing to report $150,000 worth of income.
In addition, Adler’s files were reportedly seized by the FBI in 2001 as part of a probe into President Bill Clinton’s commutation of the sentences of four Orthodox Jews who had been convicted of stealing federal anti-poverty funds in New Square.
The clemency came on Bill Clinton’s last day in office, and after the Hasidic town had overwhelmingly voted for Hillary Clinton for Senate by a margin of 1,400 to 12. The federal probe was subsequently dropped.
Mar 4th - 8:57 am
A former Republican state senator and GOP power broker who pleaded guilty to federal tax evasion in 2012 is co-hosting a high-dollar fund-raiser next month in support of Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election effort, Capital Tonight has learned.
Adding insult to injury, the ex-lawmaker in question – Nick Spano – hails from Westchester County. That’s home to County Executive Rob Astorino, who is widely expected to announce his challenge to Cuomo this week, and is badly trailing the Democratic governor in raising campaign cash.
In an email obtained by CapTon, Spano asks “friends” to join him at an April 3 “Hudson Valley for Cuomo Reception” at the Doubletree Hotel in Tarrytown that will be co-hosted by his lobbying firm, Empire Strategic Planning.
The email includes an attached invitation to the event, for which ticket prices start at $1,00 per person and climb to $25,000 for “sponsorship levels with host committee reception.”
The invite, which appears below, makes no mention of Spano or his firm. But Spano leaves no doubt in the accompanying email as to his involvement in the event, specifically noting his firm’s “hosting” role, and adding:
“I hope you can join me in becoming a key supporter of the Governor’s campaign. I have attached an invitation and contribution form for your use, and will be following up with you shortly in the hopes that you will be able to join with us.”
“Governor Cuomo has made a terrific difference in moving New York forward during the past three years. It’s important we keep that momentum going, and the Hudson Valley for Cuomo Reception is our chance to show him we are on-board.”
“I look forward to seeing you at this key event in Governor Cuomo’s re-election campaign. Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have.”
Spano lost his Senate seat in 2006 to Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, who was making her second attempt at unseating the Republican lawmaker after losing to him by just 18 votes in 2004.
In 2012, Spano was sentenced to one year and one day in prison after pleading guilty to tax evasion.
Once one of the state’s most powerful lawmakers, Spano, a Yonkers Republican, admitted that he failed to pay more than $53,000 in federal and state taxes by not reporting income – including a $45,000 commission he received on a real estate deal and rental income from a Yonkers building he owned.
Spano was released from prison last spring. He had to do two extra months in a Brooklyn detention center after violating the terms of his release by holding a celebratory family lunch and doing an interview with Journal News columnist Phil Reisman while transferring from a federal prison to a Bronx halfway house.
This isn’t the first time Spano, known as a moderate Republican during his time in Albany, has crossed party lines to back a Democrat.
In 2009, he endorsed then-Westchester County Executive Andy Spano (no relation), citing a concern over the “extremists” supporting the incumbent Democrat’s GOP opponent: Rob Astorino.
Astorino went on to defeat Andy Spano in an upset victory in the 2009 November election.
Feb 3rd - 11:41 am
An invitation to a fundraiser in Broome County featuring Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino looks a lot like a campaign mailer for a potential run for governor, touting the evening as a ” You may only have one chance this winter to catch a rising star.”
Astorino, a Republican who is considering a possible challenge to incumbent Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, is billed as the GOP “rising star” headlining the Broome County Republicans’ Lincoln Day dinner on Feb. 28.
Tickets to the event run as high as $1,000 for “premium sponsorship” at the event, while individuals can purchase tickets for $60.
In addition to the usual The invitation also includes clips featuring coverage of Astorino, who has traveled around the state to appear at various fundraisers and political events as he considers a campaign.
“The most influential pundits think Cuomo doesn’t want to face Astorino,” the headline over one of the clips reads, featuring stories from The New York Post’s Fred Dicker and The Daily News’ Ken Lovett.
Astorino has said he would make his decision on whether he runs by the end of this month.
Jan 15th - 1:04 pm
Though his main focus over the past six months was retiring the multimillion-dollar debt of his Senate Democratic conference, Sen. Mike Gianaris also did not neglect his own fundraising during that time.
The Queens lawmaker, who ran a short-lived state attorney general race in 2005, will report raising some $150,000 over the past six months and having more than $1.6 million in two committees – slightly under $200,000 in Friends of Mike Gianaris, and about $1.42 million in New Yorkers for Gianaris (the statewide committee set up for his AG bid). Gianaris is deputy minority leader of the Senate Democrats and is sitting in a fairly safe seat where he does not generally face much competition for re-election.
Detailed financial filings that will reveal exactly how much Gianaris raised – and from whom – as well has how much he spent – and on what – are due at he state Board of Elections today. Gianaris said the filings will show that he contributed $4,950 to NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio last year (the maximum allowable contribution), $1,000 to former NYC Councilwoman Melinda Katz’s successful Queens borough president campaign and $25,000 to the DSCC.
That’s about what Gianaris had on hand in July 2012 when it was noted that he could, if he so chose, retire the entire DSCC debt all on his own by transferring his personal campaign cash to the conference accounts. At the time, only one other senator had as much cash on hand: Then Majority Leader Dean Skelos with $1.8 million.
Gianaris, who has headed up the DSCC since December 2010 (replacing Sen. Jeff Klein after he was bounced from the post by the-Democratic Leader John Sampson, announced this week that he had finally managed to pay off the the remaining $665,000 of what had been a $3.1 million debt following the 2010 election cycle when the Democrats lost control of the chamber.
That was good news to members of the Democratic conference, who, in a long-standing tradition of the conference, personally guaranteed the debt.
It was an uphill climb for Gianaris to raise the cash at a time when his conference is out of power, but even with the debt, the Democrats managed to win four seats in 2012.
The Democrats have been supported by their long-standing alliance with the state’s labor community, although many unions have taken to giving campaign cash on both sides of the aisle to hedge their bets as the balance of power is so tenuous – especially since the Republicans are only maintaing control thanks to their power-sharing deal with four breakaway Democrats in the IDC.
Jan 3rd - 1:00 pm
Sen. Greg Ball has been sending out near daily email fundraising appeals as the Jan. 11 cutoff date for the next financial filing due at the state Board of Elections looms.
The latest missive from the Hudson Valley Republican mentions the left’s new standard bearer – NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – and raises the specter of the state Senate being taken over by like-minded downstate liberals.
“We have passed some great legislation, fought back huge tax increases and killed massive government expansions,” Ball wrote. “We have delivered for veterans, seniors, schools, local businesses, repealed the MTA Payroll tax and even passed a Tax Cap (sic).”
“We have made some progress, but there is much more to be done. But we MUST stop the New York City tax and spend liberals from taking over our Senate Chamber. They want free college tuition for illegals, complete firearm confiscation, massive tax hikes and drug legalization – and that is just the crazy part of their leftist agenda that they actually admit to!!”
“We don’t need the likes of Bill DeBlasio taking over every level of state government! Yet that is exactly what they intend to do, and that is why they are once again targeting this Senate seat.”
Democrat Justin Wagner, who ran against Ball in 2012, has declared his intention to mount a re-match this fall. Ball has so far declined to formally declare his candidacy for re-election, but he has said he will not be running for Congress. There has been some speculation that Ball might run for Putnam County Executive – a post currently occupied by his fellow Republican, Maryellen Odell, who is up for re-election this fall.
That would be ironic, since Ball succeeded Vincent Leibell in the state Senate. Leibell, as you’ll recall, was elected to the Putnam County executive’s office despite the fact that he was under investigation for public corruption. He was eventually convicted and never served a day in his local office.
Dec 10th - 11:02 am
Republican Congressional candidate Lee Zeldin will tap into his Albany connections on Dec. 17 at a fundraiser here in the state’s capital city.
The fundraiser for his NY-1 campaign will be held at the law offices of Featherstonhaugh, Wiley & Clyne, LLP, where partner James Featherstonhaugh is head of the New York Gaming Association.
Tickets to the reception range from $500 as the minimum to $1,000 as the “suggested” contribution.
Zeldin, a state senator from Suffolk County, is one of two Republicans vying for the chance to take on incumbent Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in what is expected to be a closely watched race next year.
Nov 7th - 5:34 pm
Sen. Lee Zeldin, one of two Republicans vying for the chance to take on Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in the NY-1 later next year, will hold his first fundraiser next Thursday, according to an email blasted out by his campaign this afternoon.
The Nov. 14 fundraiser will be held at the Suffolk County home of Steve and Carolyn Louro, with “event sponsor” status tickets running $5,000. The distinction also affords the donor recognition and a photo op.
Lower echelon tickets range from $300 to $1,000.
“Your strong early help will send a strong message that we will have the sources we need to deliver our message throughout this campaign!” the invite says.
Zeldin’s fundraising comes after Republican former SEC prosecutor George Demos entered the race with a self-financed $1 million contribution to his campaign coffers.
Demos, who initially sought the GOP nomination in 2012, dropped out of the race in the spring to plan his wedding.
Oct 28th - 3:00 pm
The re-election campaign of Gov. Andrew Cuomo is offering small-dollar contributors a chance to win a seat to the Billy Joel birthday bash next month, according to a copy of the email obtained by Capital Tonight.
Cuomo 2014 is setting aside five tickets for contributors who donated at least $5 online between today and Nov. 26.
“Maybe you will be one of the lucky five people who will win a ticket to seethe Piano Man live!” the email says.
A $5 raffle win is a real bargain compared to the tickets for everyone else to the Dec. 3 birthday fundraiser for the governor.
Tickets for one table of ten and three VIP passes are priaced at $50,000. The “Best new Artist” level requires a $25,000 contribution, which comes with two VIP passes.
A standing room ticket costs $225.
Oct 24th - 9:01 am
Democratic House candidate Sean Eldridge is being elevated to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee’s “Jumpstart” program for top-tier candidates.
The distinction provides candidates with more party infrastructure financial, communications and strategic support heading into the 2014 elections. Eldridge was one of three Democrats to be named to the program today.
Eldridge, a wealthy venture capitalist, is running for the Hudson Valley House seat held by Republican incumbent Chris Gibson.
Eldridge has already raised close to $1 million for the effort, which is expected to be one of the most heated Congressional races in the state.
The candidate, the husband of Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has been tapping into a wealthy donor base and matching his own contributions.
“I’m hearing from voters throughout NY-19 that they are tired of the political gridlock and brinkmanship that John Boehner and Chris Gibson have brought to Washington,” Eldridge said in a statement. “We cannot continue to accept a cycle of dysfunction and self-inflicted wounds. We need new leadership that will focus on common sense solutions to grow our economy, create jobs, and protect critical programs like Medicare and Social Security. I will be an independent voice for our region in Congress, and I’ll stand up to Big Oil and Big Banks and do what’s right for middle class families in Upstate New York.”
A total of 19 Democratic candidates have been added to the program, DCCC says.
Updated: Republicans both at the state and national level sent over statements to knock the new distinction from Eldridge.
For the NRCC, it was another example that Eldridge would be too close with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
“The last thing Sean Eldridge needs is more evidence that he is in the pocket of his good friend Nancy Pelosi and the Washington D.C. Democratic establishment,” said NRCC spokesman Ian Prior. “It should be pretty clear by now that Eldridge is far less interested in representing the 19th District of New York in Congress than he is in being another vote to make Pelosi Speaker of the House.”
And the state GOP also sent over a statement, from spokesman David Laska.
If Sean Eldridge is the best candidate the DCCC can produce, Republicans have little to fear in 2014. Sean Eldridge thinks voters won’t notice that he bought a $2 million house in the district the same month he filed to run for office. They will. Sean Eldridge is a spoiled 20-something who thinks he can spend his family money into Congress. He can’t.”