Maloney Raises Off Ryan Contribution to Hayworth

The DCCC is using Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget, passed last week by the GOP-controlled House, as political fodder against incumbent Republicans seeking re-election and GOP challengers trying to unseat incumbent Democrats.

It’s a bit of a stretch to tie candidates who didn’t actually cast a vote on the budget to the document, especially if – like Sen. Lee Zeldin, who is running in NY-1 – they side step the issue by refusing to endorse anything they haven’t yet read.

But Democratic Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney has something concrete to link his GOP opponent, former Rep. Nan Hayworth, to Ryan: A $5,000 contribution from the former VP candidate’s political action committee, “Prosperity PAC.”

Maloney today sent a fundraising email to supporters with the subject line “Paul Ryan’s gift to Nan Hayworth,” noting that the former congresswoman “spent years actively supporting Ryan’s budget, disastrous cuts to Medicare and all.”

“Then just last week she goes so far as to DELETE Facebook messages from New Yorkers demanding she drop her support,” Maloney wrote. “And now her reward: campaign cash from Ryan – and I’m sure more to come from the special interests that support his policies.”

“It’s pretty simple from here – we either match them dollar for dollar, or we lose this seat to the Tea Party. So I need your help….When the attacks start (and it will happen soon), they can’t go unanswered. That’s a recipe for disaster. Thanks for helping me fight back against bad policy and the billionaires who back it.”

Over the next 24 hours, Maloney is trying to match the $5,000 Ryan gave to Hayworth.

The congressman has continued to out-fundraise Hayworth, who is launching a re-match against the Democrat after he ousted her from power two years ago.

According to the latest FEC filings, Maloney raised a little more than $472,000 this past quarter. After expenses, Maloney was left with about $1.5 million in the bank. Hayworth raised nearly $282,000. She has about $663,000 cash on hand.

Of note: Trying to generate a sense of urgency, Maloney’s email claims the State of Politics report on Ryan’s contribution to Hayworth “just” came out, which is technically not true. Michael Scotto filed that report several days ago.

McCain To Headline Zeldin Fundraiser

US Sen. John McCain will headline a fundraiser in support of state Sen. Lee Zeldin’s congressional run on April 22 in New York City.

Tickets to the event is being held at a private residence on E. 70th Street in Manhattan (which happens to be the building where Christopher Cox, son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, is listed. Ed Cox and his wife, Tricia, are listed as hosts). Tickets start at $1,000 and run as high as $5,200.

McCain, a senior senator from Arizona and the 2008 GOP presidential nominee, endorsed Zeldin last October, saying his “service in the military, as a federal prosecutor and in state government demonstrate his deep commitment to advancing causes greater than his own self-interest.”

Zeldin is seeking the GOP nod to challenge Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in November. He is being challenged for the GOP line by George Demos.

Boehner To Fundraise In NYC With Cox And Company

House Speaker John Boehner will appear at a New York City fundraiser on April 7 with tickets going as high as $15,000.

Co-headlining the event with Boehner will be New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox, supermarket magnate and one-time Republican candidate for mayor John Catsimatidis as well as former Rep. Sue Kelly.

Investor Wilbur Ross as well as John Whitehead, a nemesis of ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, will also be in attendance.

The event will be held at Astra by Charlie Palmer.

NYPIRG: Cuomo Biggest Beneficiary of NY’s Mega Donors

A NYPIRG report released today on the top 170 campaign contributors (giving $50,000 or more) of 2013 found Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the biggest beneficiary of the state’s current lax contribution laws, receiving – either directly or indirectly – some 40 percent of the $28 million dumped into campaign coffers by rich donors.

The cash given by this small percentage of rich individual, businesses and labor unions represented more than half – 51.41 percent – of all the money donated by New York’s 19.7 million residents last year.

Most of the mega-donors took advantage of various loopholes in the state’s campaign finance system. For example, James Simons, number one on this list, was legally allowed to give $1 million to the state Democratic Committee’s Housekeeping account, which has no contribution limits. Number two, Leonard Litwin, made donations from 21 different limited liability companies, which are treated like individuals when it comes to contribution limits.

According to NYPIRG, donations to Cuomo’s campaign and to the state Democratic Party, which spent millions running pro-Cuomo TV ads, accounted for 40 percent of the mega-donor total.

NYPIRG and other good government groups are pushing the governor to stick to his guns on campaign finance reform – especially creation of a publicly funded system – during the budget negotiations. Cuomo included public campaign financing in his budget proposal. Cuomo has repeatedly talked about the importance of getting the big money out of politics, but he has so far failed to expend much of his considerable political capital to get that done.

In the meantime, the governor has been raising campaign cash hand over fist, amassing more than $33 million at last count (in mid-January).

The Senate’s one-house budget featured some very vague language on taking a look at a public system, but most members have made it clear they have no intention of voting “yes” on anything that is funded with taxpayer dollars.

NYPIRG's list of top donors, recipients in 2013. by liz_benjamin6490

Bit O’ The Green

From today’s Morning Memo (Part I of III):

In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, NYPIRG is out with its semi-regular list of fundraisers held in Albany by rank-and-file state lawmakers, legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo while the Legislature is in session.

Between Jan. 13 and March 26, there have been 126 political campaign cash events held within the shadow of the state Capitol, by NYPIRG’s count.

During that period, the Senate was scheduled to be in session 31 days and 20 nights, while the Assembly was scheduled for 32 days and 21 nights.

One of the events listed has a question mark next to it, because it’s unclear if it took place in Albany – or even within the state of New York.

Actually, no one – except the exclusive group of people who attended – knows exactly where the high-dollar “dinner & conversation” was held.

The $15,000-a-head get together with Cuomo featured cocktails and a “seated” dinner. It took place on Feb. 26, according to an invitation obtained by NYPIRG.

The location was kept secret until an interested attendee RSVP’ed – something I can’t recall ever seeing before.

But, according to the invite, it was quite an intimate affair, since seating at the unknown venue was “very limited.”

74 State Labor Dispute Forces AG To Relocate Fundraiser

You may have seen in this morning’s “Here and Now” that AG Eric Schneiderman was scheduled to hold a fund-raiser this evening at 74 State – the boutique hotel down the street from the state Capitol that has for several years been a popular watering hold for elected officials, legislative staffers, lobbyists and reporters.

But Schneiderman’s team informed us the event has been moved around the block to Taste (45 Beaver St.) due to an ongoing dispute between 74 State’s new owners and the Hotel & Motel Trades Council, a small but powerful labor union.

The nine-story, 74-room (hence, along with its address, the name) hotel sold last month for $3.8 million to Albany Lodging Group LLC, a company affiliated with Visions Hotels. According to HTC, the new owners failed to honor and executive a collective bargaining agreement with its employees, who are HTC members.

The Albany County Legislature weighed in last night in support of the union with a proclamation that appears below. The AG has close ties to organized labor, which he undoubtedly wants to maintain and strengthen as he gears up for his first re-election bid this fall.

This isn’t the first time a Capital Region hotel has seen a loss of business due to a contract dispute with HTC. In the summer of 2012, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, NYSUT, the New York State Trial Lawyers’ Association and other influential groups and elected officials joined in a boycott organized by the union of the Desmond Hotel in Colonie due to its contract standoff with management. Desmond employees worked without a contract for over a year, but eventually did settle their dispute.

Albany County Legislature proclamation in support of HTC in sale of 74 State, Albany. by liz_benjamin6490

Still On Board For Rangel’s ‘Historic Last Run’

Rep. Charlie Rangel tonight is formally kicking off the campaign for his 23rd – and, if you believe his campaign aides – last two-year tenure in the House. And despite some high-profile Democrats announcing their support of one of his primary opponents, Sen. Adriano Espaillat, the veteran congressman continues to have a fair number of recognizable names in his corner.

The host committee for tonight’s event includes former state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, former NYC Mayor David Dinkins and former Senator/Secretary of State Basil Paterson (who, along with Dinkins and Rangel make up three of the storied Harlem “Gang of Four”).

Also listed: Former Assemblyman Adam Clayton Powell IV, who twice tried unsuccessfully to oust Rangel and whose father was pushed from his House seat by the congressman well over 40 years ago. Powell endorsed Rangel in 2012, despite the fact that he had been extremely critical of the congressman during their primary battles. The former assemblyman has kept a relatively low profile since his second primary loss to Rangel in 2010, though he recently made a cameo appearance in a controversial video recorded by Assemblyman Jose Rivera in Puerto Rico.

Rangel reported $211,461 on hand after the final fundraising quarter in 2013.  (Basil Paterson is the treasurer of the congressman’s campaign committee).

Invite to Rep. Charlie Rangel’s campaign kick-off tonight. by liz_benjamin6490

Sen. Smith’s ‘Virtual’ Fundraiser

A reader forwarded me an invite to a “virtual” golf outing being held last this month by Queens Sen. Malcolm Smith, who is raising campaign cash for a re-election bid despite the fact that he is fighting federal fraud and bribery charges (to which he has pleaded innocent, for the record).

There is no location for this event, which will be held on March 24. It is clearly a fund-raiser, with participation ranging from $100 for a “tee sign/friend” to $500 for a “foursome/sponsor.” Apparently, supporters are expected to simply write checks – or send “good wishes” – to the senator without receiving anything – like, say, a round of golf, or even some cubed cheese and a drink in a plastic cup – in return.

I’ve never heard of this before, but perhaps it’s a new frontier in political fundraising? The reader who received the invite wondered if perhaps Smith might be accepting bitcoin.

Smith, as you’ll recall, was once the Senate majority leader, but is now – along with Sen. John Sampson, who is also facing charges (in his case, embezzlement) – is a man without a conference, having been ousted by his newfound friends in the IDC after he was accused last April of trying to bribe his way onto the Republican ballot line in the NYC mayor’s race.

In January, Smith asked a federal judge to delay his trial until after this year’s primary elections, which are scheduled to take place in September, despite the Assembly Democrats’ effort to have them moved to coincide with the court-ordered congressional primaries in June. The judge recently denied Smith’s request and set his trial date for June 2.

Smith already has at least two primary challengers.

Sen. Malcolm Smith’s “virtual golf” fundraiser. by liz_benjamin6490

The Senate Dems’ Big Night

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.

Speaking Of Felons…

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.