May 1st - 5:04 pm
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver gave a wide-ranging gaggle with reporters this afternoon, admitting that “you probably can’t” keep teacher evaluations out of the hands of general public after only parents are allowed to view them.
“I don’t know. I don’t know. You probably can’t,” Silver said in response to a question from Gannett’s Jon Campbell on the logistics of limited disclosure of evaluations.
Silver, D-Manhattan, did say that he expects the issue to be resolved by June 21, the end of the legislative session, a sentiment that’s shared by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
“It’s being discussed,” Silver said. “Clearly, I can’t give you a timetable, except I’m pretty sure we’ll address the issue before the end of the legislative session.”
The disclosure of teacher evaluations has been firmly supported by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, but is a sensitive issue for teachers unions, who point to other public employees not having their evaluations released to either the general public or a narrowly defined portion of the populace, like parents.
In the gaggle, Silver sounded like Cuomo at times when acknowledging both sides of the issue.
“There are a lot of thoughts on it and that’s what’s being discussed right now. Clearly, parents have a right to see it, on the other hand no public employees has their evaluations available to the public,” Silver said.
He added: I think everybody seems to be on the same page and that’s what we want to achieve. How you achieve it is still under discussion.
*Silver said the criminalizing of synthetic marijuana, a measure passed by the Republican-led Senate on Monday, will be taken up in the near future: “We intend to move it forward. I can’t tell you when at this point.”
*On campaign-finance reform, Silver said a “true bill” would have a public financing option.
“One of the problems with it is the SC allows for Super PACs, number one, number two it allows for wealthy candidates with unlimited expenditures and that’s something we really have to come to grips with,” he said. In public finance, you can at least provide a minimal level of funding any candidate who has support regardless of their own personal assets.”
May 1st - 4:04 pm
Senate Democrats today renewed their effort to pass a form of overhauling the state’s campaign-finance laws by introducing a measure by Sen. Eric Adams that would create an public financing system.
Adams, a possible candidate for Brooklyn borough president, said he was surprised by the differences in the city campaign finance system — which includes a public financing component — and the state’s system, which is widely derided by good-government groups for its loopholes and sky-high contribution limits.
The Adams bill is one of several measures that’s been introduced for campaign finance. And while some lawmakers in the Democratic conference didn’t think Gov. Andrew Cuomo had dropped his support for the policy of public financing, Sen. Bill Perkins took the opposite view.
Perkins said outside the news conference that Cuomo needed “to be pressured by all of us” to throw his muscle behind the legislation.
“I think he’s doing a very severe disservice to the people of the state of New York when he turns a blind eye to this campaign finance reform,” Perkins said. “There is absolutely no excuse whatsoever. He has proven that when he puts his mite behind a good idea it can happen and that when he doesn’t we go backwards in terms of reform. I believe that he needs to be pressured by all of us to do the right thing for the people of the state of New York.”
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver last month introduced his own campaign-finance bill, one that is closely modeled after the New York City system.
Cuomo backs a public financing component for overhauling the state’s campaign laws, but expressed skepticism at a news conference last week that such a measure would pass the Republican-led Senate.
A Senate GOP spokesman sent over a statement blasting the Democrats and reiterating the conference’s opposition to the public financing measure.
“We’re not surprised that the Senate Democrats, who nearly bankrupted this state, would want to force New Yorkers to spend $200 million in taxpayer money to fund political campaigns rather than investing those dollars in our schools or providing incentives to help businesses create jobs,” said the spokesman, Scott Reif. “We continue to oppose siphoning off taxpayer dollars to fund political campaigns, especially in these difficult economic times.”
Apr 30th - 12:23 pm
A reader forwarded this invite to an upcoming fundraiser for Sen. Joe Addabbo, a Queens Democrat who, as of last week, is facing a spirited challenge from NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, a GOP rising star.
When Ulrich announced his intention to run against Addabbo, it was widely noted that the senator had just $1,685.07 in his campaign account as of mid-January. DSCC spokesman Josh Scherwin said Addabbo would have the resources necessary to fight to maintain his seat, but the Democrats don’t have much in the way of resources to spread around. (In fact, they’re still in debt to the tune of $1.5 million.
Ulrich has an estimated balance of $14,669 in his NYC campaign account, according to the CFB. The city contribution limits are far lower than the state legislative limits, but I’m not sure how much of that cash he can/will transfer into a new account.
Ulrich’s decision to run surprised a number of observers, including yours truly, because up to the last minute, he was widely believed to be leaning against it.
But, as he noted during a CapTon interview on the day of his annoucnement, Ulrich has little to lose here – other than the $30,000 salary difference between a Council and Senate seat and the time he’ll spend commuting to Albany if he wins – since he’s not up for re-election until 2013.
The Addabbo event is being held on May 23 at RW Prime at the Resorts World Casino NYC. (The invite notes that Addabbo sits on the Racing and Wagering Committee). Tickets range from $500 to $2,500. (I tried to upload this rightside up, but for some reason couldn’t figure out how to do that. Blogger fail. Sorry).
UPDATE: Thanks to an intervention by Azi Paybarah, the invite is now right side up.
Apr 30th - 11:21 am
Democratic Congressional hopeful Richard Becker released a map today that he says shows most of his donations — nearly 78 percent — came from within the newly drawn NY-18 or the old NY-19.
From the Becker campaign:
“This election is going to turn on a couple of simple questions: Who’s going to be the middle class standard-bearer the Hudson Valley needs? Who has what it takes to create jobs right here in the Hudson Valley? Who can go toe-to-toe with Nan Hayworth on women’s reproductive rights, on Medicare, and on the GOP’s Tea Party extremism? Dr. Becker been a doctor and small businessman here for 30 years, has created hundreds of jobs right here in our communities, and has already been holding Nan Hayworth accountable for months – and the people have noticed.”
The map also serves as a subtle reminder that Maloney doesn’t live in the district.
Incumbent Rep. Nan Hayworth is considered one of the more vulnerable New York freshman this election cycle.
Apr 26th - 10:37 am
In a memorandum being circulated this morning, good-government advocates call Speaker Sheldon Silver’s measure to create a public financing system for political campaigns “a good first step forward” but then pick apart some of the wider loopholes in the legislation.
“This bill provides a strong step towards the campaign finance reforms that we hope to see enacted this session,” the groups Citizens Union, League of Women Voters and NYPIRG write in the memo. “We applaud Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and the members of the Election Law Committee for jumpstarting this session’s discussion of how to repair our broken system of campaign finance.”
In particular, the group’s applaud the six-to-one match for donations up to $250, restrictions on public funds for candidates who face little opposition and the requirement that participants in the program commit to a public debate, among others.
But the advocates take issue with several areas that need improvement:
–Auditing provisions need to be “beefed up”
–Have an independent board overseeing the system should have the power to enforce campaign-finance laws even for those candidates who opt out of the system
–Address housekeeping committees used by parties to raise vast amounts of cash
–Close the “loophole” of allowing corporate subsidiaries and union affiliates that aren’t included in the overall calculation of annual limits.
Public financing is opposed by Senate Republicans, who hold a 32-29 majority, and argue that taxpayer money shouldn’t go toward potentially corrupt politicians. Gov. Andrew Cuomo said yesterday he favors a public financing system, but noted the difficulty of getting it through the upper chamber.
Silver, too, has acknowledged the difficulty of getting his bill through the Senate, where Minority Leader John Sampson, D-Brooklyn, introduced a version of it.
A coalition of wealthy donors and activists, meanwhile, have created the group NY-LEAD, meant to spur lawmakers to create the system.
Apr 26th - 7:50 am
Manhattan BP Scott Stringer, one of five Democrats gearing up to try to replace Mayor Bloomberg in 2013, sent an appeal to donors this morning employing NJ Gov. Chris Christie as a fundraising tool.
In a missive titled “Stand Up to Chris Christie,” Stringer touted his “bold plan to strengthen our city’s transportation network to meet the challenges of the 21st Century,” which (although not explicitly restated here) included a call to reinstate the commuter tax.
“The sad truth is our transportation system is on a collision course with a fiscal reality that could wreck our economy and bring our great city to a grinding halt,” Stringer writes.
“Without dramatic action, middle and working class New Yorkers will continue to suffer the consequences of the MTA’s budget crisis, with ongoing fare hikes and diminished services.”
“It doesn’t have to be that way. If we make smart choices now, we can do more than stave off disaster – we can expand our public transit system, bringing New Yorkers closer together than ever before.”
“Of course, faster than you can say ‘job-killer,’ the usual enemies of public investment and long-term planning – like Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey – attacked my plan.”
“That’s right, the same Chris Christie who killed the much-needed ARC Tunnel project – a decision that cost our region 150,000 jobs and $9 billion in economic activity – just to score points with the radical right wing of his party.”
“We need to move past the failed policies of Republicans like Chris Christie and re-invest in our public infrastructure. Make a donation today, and stand with this campaign’s vision for a 21st century transit system.”
Stringer is referring to the recent Government Accountability Office report that found Christie exaggerated when he claimed unforeseen costs forced him to cancel the new train tunnel planned to relieve congested routes across the Hudson River – a move that scored him big points with anti-government spending conservatives.
Of course, Christie is hardly the only elected official who balked at Stringer’s call for the tax on people who work in NYC but live elsewhere.
A host of pols – Democrats and Republicans alike – who represent commuter-rich areas on Long Island and north of the five boroughs cried foul.
But none of them have Christie’s name recognition, nor are they routinely talked about as a potential 2016 presidential contender – or perhaps even a long shot VP pick in this year’s race.
A NY1/Marist poll released this week found Stringer trailing the pack of would-be Bloomberg successors, behind even NYC Comptroller John Liu, whose candidacy is in question, thanks to his fundraising scandal.
But the race is very far off in the future, and much might change between now and then.
Still, Stringer has been forced to bat down persistent speculation that he might switch gears and run for comptroller himself in 2013 – a rumor reportedly being spread by allies of the Democratic field leader, NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn, though that allegation has been denied.
Apr 25th - 4:05 pm
Rep. Charlie Rangel emailed supporters today to tout his role in reducing federal student loan interest rates when he was Ways and Means chairman and lauding President Obama’s push to prevent that law from expiring this July.
The veteran Harlem Democrat, who is facing mulitple primary challengers for the second year in a row, took his “Republican colleagues” to task for refusing to heed Obama’s call for the so-called Buffett Rule to help pay for extending the measure that reduced the interest rate from 6.8 percent to 3.4 percent.
“My Republican colleagues need to prioritize the future of America’s students instead of tax breaks for the wealthy,” Rangel wrote. “Average American families should not be forced to choose between their children’s education and their own financial well-being.”
“I would not be where I am today if I didn’t have the opportunity to get an education. I have co-sponsored both the Student Loan Forgiveness Act, H.R. 4170, and The American College Tax Relief Act, H.R. 3826, which would take large steps towards making college affordable. These bills would forgive loans and reduce some interest rates for millions of Americans. I hope that I can count on your support as I continue to fight to expand access to education for all Americans. “
Rangel’s email includes a link to Obama’s appearance on “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon” last night, during which the president joined the host in “slow jamming” the student loan news – a continuation of Obama’s obvious effort to bolster his support among young voters who were key to his election in 2008.
There’s also a link to the fundraising page on Rangel’s campaign website.
Not mentioned is the fact that Rangel hasn’t been Ways and Means chairman since the spring of 2010, when he stepped down following after an ethics panel found he had violated House gift rules by accepting corporate funding for trips to the Caribbean.
At the time, Rangel was still the subject of other ethics probes focused on his misuse of rent-controlled apartments, failure to disclose income from a villa in the Dominican Republic and allegations that he misued his office to land a $1 million gift to CUNY’s Charles Rangel Center. Rangel was later censured by the House for financial misconduct in December 2010 – just months after he won both the September primary and the November general election.
In the summer of 2010, Obama called the allegations against Rangel “very troubling,” and said he hoped the congressman would be able to “end his career with dignity” – a comment widely interpreted as a not-so-subtle push by the commander-in-chief for the congressman to retire.
But Rangel refused, and now he is again seeking re-election, facing multiple primary challengers – including Sen. Adriano Espaillat – and insisting he intends to serve out a full two-year term if the voters return him to D.C., despite persistent speculation that he will retire mid-term in hopes of controlling the selection of his successor.
The full text of Rangel’s email appears after the jump:
Apr 19th - 4:06 pm
The rise of Super PACs in this election cycle has caused a lot of buzz and consternation, in part because they allow donors to avoid restrictions like contribution limits and reporting requirements while spending as much as they’d like to support their preferred candidates.
Former Gov. George Pataki made news last week when he announced he’s creating Tipping Point – one of the first Super PACs to focus specifically on congressional elections in a single state. Since he’s no longer running for anything hismelf, Pataki is now putting his fundraising skills and contact list to work for fellow Republicans. (This also enables him to collect chits should he ever decide to toss his hat back into the ring sometime in the future).
During an interview that will air on CapTon at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. tonight, Pataki expressed distaste with Super PACs, but said they’re a necessary evil in a “screwed up” campaign finance system. He also opposes public campaign financing, which is being discussed in Albany at the moment, and reducing the limit on individual campaign contributions.
“I don’t think it’s a good system, but it’s the only system we have,” Pataki told me. “And if I had my druthers I would allow people to give far more to candidate races, but the system is screwed up.”
“You can give $2,500 to a candidate because if you give $2,600 somehow you might corrupt them. But you can spend $25 million anonymously supporting that candidate on the outside. It makes no sense. But those are the rules. That’s the law…I would love to see it different, but as long as this is the way it is, we’re going to help our side compete against the forces on the other side.”
Apr 17th - 7:46 am
As of yesterday, we knew Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand had raised another $1.5 million during the first three months of 2012 and has $9.1 million on hand for her re-election bid, but none of her three GOP opponents had filed their first-quarter numbers with the FEC.
A source forwarded a copy of attorney Wendy Long’s filing, which shows the first-time candidate is burning through her campaign cash at a significant rate, spending half of what she has taken in so far, with the bulk of that going to high-priced consultants.
According to the filing, which appears below, Long raised $141,750, spent $72,782 and has $68,967.
That’s about a 50 percent burn rate with not a dime spent on advertising yet. (The only one up on the air is Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos, and he’s restricting his spending to radio at this point).
The rate is higher – somewhere in the 75 percent range – if you just count primary cash, which is pertinent in this case, since Long has to battle Maragos and Rep. Bob Turner in the June 26 contest before turning her attention to Gillibrand.
She does have the Conservative nod, though, so she’s assured a general election ballot line even if she loses the GOP primary.
My source observed that would be a pretty crummy quarter for your average House candidate – to say nothing of someone who’s trying to run a statewide campaign against an incumbent well known to be a prodigious fundraiser.
Long’s consultant list includes: James E. Walsh ($10,000), The Casale Group ($25,000), Versus Partners ($15,000) and Richard Wadhams ($18,773).
Among her contributors:
The conservative Susan B. Anthony List PAC ($10,000), former Assembly Minority Leader/2006 gubernatorial candidate John Faso ($250), former 2010 US Senate candidate/consultant Jay Townsend ($500), and Dinesh D’Souza, founder of the Dartmouth Review – an association that got Long in some hot water – who gave $2,500. Dixie D’Souza, who appears to be his wife, maxed out at $5,000.
Update: Here is a statement from David Catalfamo, Adviser to the Long Campaign
“Someone is clearly spooked by Wendy Long’s meteoric rise in the race to defeat Senator Gillibrand, the question is who?
In a desperate and pathetic effort to keep Wendy from winning the Republican primary, FEC filings were leaked this morning to the State of Politics blog – characterized in the most negative way possible, and posted without first being provided an opportunity to comment. The fact is in just 5 short weeks since bursting on the scene, Wendy Long raised $141,750.
The vast majority of funds were raised in only 11 days following successful Republican and Conservative Party conventions. As a proven national fundraiser, raising millions on behalf of the Judicial Confirmation Network, Wendy Long will have the resources, the support and most importantly the ideas to run a strong, successful and principled campaign.”
Apr 16th - 3:10 pm
Richard Becker, one of several Democrats vying to take on Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth in the general election, was forced to issue a rather shamefaced explanation after questioned about a campaign contribution he gave to a former Republican congresswoman whose district (well, the re-drawn version of it, anyway) he’s now running to represent.
According to FEC records, Becker, a cardiologist, gave $800 to then-GOP Rep. Sue Kelly in November 2005 when she was headed into what turned out to be a disastrous (from her perspective) election cycle in which she was defeated in a narrow race by Democrat John Hall.
Hall was ousted in 2010 by Hayworth. The district, NY-18, which used to be NY-19, has about a 5,000 Democratic voter enrollment edge.
Becker did give campaign cash to Hall, but only after he won in 2006 and was gearing up for re-election himself. Between February 2007 and June 2008, Becker gave Hall $2,100.
I first brought the Kelly contribution to the campaign’s attention last Friday. Becker stafferswere skeptical and asked for some time to review his records to confirm that he had indeed given this cash to the former congresswoman. Today, I received the following statement from Becker’s campaign manager, Al Benninghoff:
“This was Dr. Becker’s first political donation, and it was a mistake that he’s never repeated.
“At the time, Dr. Becker was a local small business owner and cardiologist. A friend, the President of his hospital, asked him and ten of his senior colleagues to donate to their local Congresswoman and attend a fundraiser. Thinking it was in the best interests of his patients and his practices, and as a personal favor to a friend and colleague, Dr. Becker said yes. Local small businessmen frequently donate to their Congressperson – even when they have ideological differences – and this was no different.”
“Since then, Dr. Becker has become politically active, and he’s made more than $10,000 worth of donations to dozens of local, exclusively progressive candidates and causes. In fact, he’s the only candidate in this race who ever appears to have donated to Rep. John Hall’s campaign.”
According to Benninghoff, Becker, who was elected to the Cortlandt Town Board in 2007, “never anticipated running for Congress,” but felt “compelled” to participate more aggressive and speak up due to the extreme direction national politics has taken in recent years.
“He entered this race because he was fed up with Nan Hayworth’s hypocritical and destructive stances on job creation, Medicare, and women’s reproductive rights,” Benninghoff continued.
“Our campaign has been focused on fighting back against ‘No Comment Nan’s’ Tea Party extremism and making clear that she’s not the moderate she pretends to be. We’re happy to put Dr. Becker’s record of proactive leadership on the issues in our communities that voters care about up against anyone else’s.”