May 16th - 4:33 pm
The conventional wisdom since state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs’ abrupt resignation decision has been that Executive Director Charlie King move up to replace him in the No. 1 slot.
There’s logic to that assumption. After all, King goes waaaaaaay back with Cuomo, serving under him at HUD, running as his LG in his ill-fated 2002 gubernatorial campaign and then, at then candidate-Cuomo’s request, serving as the official party attack dog during the 2010 campaign.
(Of course, there was that little bump in the relationship road when King challenged Cuomo in the 2006 AG’s race, but he ended up dropping out and backing Cuomo, so that’s all water under the bridge now).
I’ve heard from two highly-placed Democratic sources, however, that King is NOT in fact Cuomo’s choice to lead the party.
One source tells me King actually asked not be to considered because he wants to return to the private sector “well before” Cuomo’s 2014 re-election bid because he has some college tuitions to start saving for, which means whoever does replace Jacobs – and I haven’t managed to get any names confirmed yet – is going to have the opportunity to pick his or her new executive director fairly soon after taking control of the party.
It has been clear for some time that Jacobs’ days were numbered. Even Jacobs himself admitted as much when I talked to him briefly last night after news of his imminent departure broke in the NYT.
Another source insists nothing in particular is behind the timing of Jacobs’ departure, the administration just happened to “get around to it” now after kicking around the idea of a party re-organization for several months.
“The notion is they need someone acceptable to the state committee and the county chairs, not just someone pulled out of nowhere, but also someone who will elevate the profile of the party, someone real,” this source said.
And, of course, the person in question has to be loyal as the day is long to Cuomo, AND be able to raise money – although the governor is no slouch in that department.
It’s kind of hard to find someone with all those qualities. It will be interesting to see who the governor picks – or rather, has picked, because it’s highly unlikely the news of Jacobs’ resignation would have leaked if Cuomo didn’t have a replacement chair already lined up.
May 15th - 6:36 pm
State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs confirmed the NYT report that he has tendered his resignation to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, clearing the way for the governor to select his own leader of an organization of which he became the de facto head when he was elected back in 2010.
This move is not unexepected – in fact, it has been speculated since the gubernatorial campaign when Cuomo installed his political frenemy, Charlie King, as the party’s executive director. King, as you’ll recall, worked for the governor at HUD, ran as his LG in that ill-fated 2002 race and then challenged him (and dropped out) in the 2006 AG race.
Jacobs, who was elevated by former Gov. David Paterson in 2009 over Cuomo’s objections (he replaced June O’Neill, an Eliot Spitzer holdover who had worked in the Cuomo I administration), acknowledged that his departure has been under discussion “on and off” for some time, although he insisted there was “never any urgency” to the talks.
“It’s certainly something that has been discussed. The sense was: What’s a good time for the party.”
“We’ve got a presidential election coming up, and it just seemed a better time than in late September (when his current two-year term officially ends)…You always discuss these things when you’re state chair, but listen, my political obituary has been written a lot of times already. I do like to be underestimated.”
The party hasn’t been terribly active since the 2010 campaign. I’m not sure it even has a headquarters anymore, although there are press releases sent out from time to time dinging this or that Republican or boosting this or that Democrat – particularly in the more competitive House races around the state.
One of the secrets to Jacobs success – and his longevity – has been his deep pockets and ability to tap fellow wealthy Democrats. At times, Jacobs has almost singled handedly kept the state party afloat. He told me during a brief telelphone interview that he intends to keep giving.
“I’m different than a lot of people, maybe, in politics in that I actually believe in this stuff,” Jacobs said. “So, I will continue to support the party. I like supporting the party. I don’t know that my wife likes it as much, but I sure do. I think it’s meaningful. We’ve done some great things, and you need money to get your message out.”
Jacobs said he plans to keep his hand in politics, too. He’s keeping his job as Nassau County Democratic chairman. (The fact that he had dual titles rankled some Democratic insiders). He also has his summer camp business to run, which is about to hit the high season.
Jacobs declined to comment on whom Cuomo might select – or has already selected – as his successor, but said an announcement will come “soon.” He’s due in Albany later this week for a state committee meeting, so perhaps we’ll know then.
The departing chairman also side-stepped my question about whether Cuomo will be running for president in 2016 – a move he no doubt would not make without his own hand-picked state party chairman to keep a lid on things back home.
“That I can’t comment on,” Jacobs said. “That I just don’t know.”
May 3rd - 3:52 pm
New York Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs sign on to the national campaign that’s pushing for a plank at this summer’s Charlotte convention supporting same-sex marriage rights.
“Nearly a year ago, New Yorkers stood united in supporting full marriage equality for all loving and committed families, and Democrats led the way,” said Jacobs in a statement provided by the campaign, Freedom To Marry. “We now see first-hand how marriage improves the lives of gay couples and their families, and strengthens businesses and communities throughout the Empire State. Marriage equality is simply the right thing to do, and that’s why I strongly believe that the Democratic Party should stand united for a freedom to marry plank in our national Democratic Party platform.”
Jacob’s support for the plank is both interesting and significant.
The New York State Democratic Party’s leader is essentially Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has been credited as the driving force behind last year’s successful same-sex marriage effort. Cuomo said late last year at an Empire State Pride Agenda awards ceremony that the New York law should lead the nation to a wave of legalization for gay couples.
“And we need marriage equality in every state in this nation, otherwise no state really has marriage equality,” he said at the time. “And we will not rest until it is a reality.”
The passage of same-sex marriage in New York instantly made Cuomo a contender for the 2016 presidential election, though he has reportedly sought no role at this summer’s convention.
President Obama, who will be renominated at the convention, has said his views on same-sex marriage are “evolving,” though it is a position that’s shifted for him over the years.
Polls have shown that public support for same-sex marriage has increased by leaps and bounds over the last several years.
“Today still more Democratic Party leaders, including New York state party chair Jay Jacobs, joined Freedom to Marry’s call for a freedom to marry plank in the Party Platform. These state party chairs know that at its best the Democratic Party fights for freedom, fairness, and families,” said Evan Wolfson, founder and President of Freedom to Marry.
Apr 30th - 7:10 am
Usually, the state parties don’t get involved in primaries, (at least not overtly), preferring to appear to let the candidates duke it on their own, and then swooping in to back the winner in the general election.
But, that’s not the case in NY-18, where no fewer than five Democrats are duking it out for the right to face Republican Rep. Nan Hayworth in November.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs was quite clear during a CapTon interview Friday (we caught up with him at the DRC meeting in Corning) that he’s backing Sean Patrick Maloney in the race.
“It just looks to me that that’s the candidate who’s raising the most money, out there most aggressively, and should do very well,” Jacobs told me, after recovering from a brief memory lapse on Maloney’s last name.
“He’s a great candidate.”
I asked Jacobs if the DCCC indeed feels the same way, (as I reported back on April 2), noting that he’s probably in regular contact with his fellow Long Islander, Rep. Steve Israel, who heads the House Democrats’ political arm. The chairman replied:
“…Obviously, in all cases, we want our strongest candidate, and we want our strongest candidate that we believe will do a great job. And (Maloney) fits the bill there.”
This isn’t going to come as welcome news to Maloney’s primary opponents, including Wappingers Falls Mayor Matt Alexander, who I believe I spotted in at the DRC opening reception in Corning on Friday night.
Also, as a former Clinton White House aide, and staffer in both the Spitzer and Paterson administrations, Maloney is nothing if not well connected.
Jan 18th - 3:08 pm
On the same day the NYPD sent officers in riot gear to oust Occupy Wall Street protestors from the Lower Manhattan park where they had been camped out for over two months, the park’s owner and its affiliate made sizable contributions to the state Democratic Party.
Zuccotti Park’s owner, Brookfield Properties,and its affiliate, Bookfield Financial Properties LLC, each cut a $50,000 check to the state Dems’ housekeeping account on Nov. 15, according to the party’s Jan. 15 financial filing. Brookfield Financial sent another $10,000 about a month later on Dec. 12.
It’s not unsual for Brookfield et al to make campaign contributions. Former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin posted a detailed list of the firms’ political donations last October, and found they had spread a considerable amount of cash around – including to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s 2014 re-election campaign ($15,000) and his AG campaign ($10,000).
UPDATE: Benjamin (no relation, by the way) emails:
“It may be coincidental that the filing listed the donations on the date received which happened to be the same day that the police evicted the OWS encampment. I say that because my treasurer would list a contribution on the day it was received, not the date on the check (sometimes the same day as a fundraiser). If the check was hand-delivered to the State Committee on Nov. 15, then they are all idiots.”
To which I say: That’s very true, but even if the money came before Nov. 15, it came at the height of the OWS movement while the Democratic Party was stressing out over how to handle the Occupy movement at the risk of angering deep pocketed Wall Street donors. Still seems like an ill-advised move to have accepted this cash, whenever it came in, and then record its arrival on Nov. 15.
Some Democrats outright declared solidarity with OWS. The DCCC did, and didn’t get any love in return from the protestors, who subsequently demonstrated outside a high-dollar fundraiser the committee held to benefit 15 House members seeking re-election this fall – including Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (even though the Arizona congresswoman, who’s still recovering from her near-fatal head wound, hasn’t said yet if she’s running).
The Democratic Party has $142,893 in its housekeeping account and $105,477 in its regular campaign committee. It outspent what it raised for the latter committee, laying out $119,947 and bringnig in $110,183. The party still owes $87,207 to several contractors, but did pay back $30,000 worth of loans made to its biggest supporter and chairman, Jay Jacobs.
Interestingly, the state party spent $2.2 million during the last election cycle – all of which went to support candidates running on Long Island, where Jacobs also charis the Nassau County Democratic Party. There were, of course, other local races going on elsewhere in the state – including a fairly hot county executive county in WNY, in which Democratic former County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz ousted GOP incumbent Chris Collins.
Nov 18th - 2:05 pm
ICYMI: Here’s state Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs explaining during a CapTon interview last night why he blocked party committee members from voting on resolutions that most likely would have been interpreted as a rebuke to Gov. Andrew Cuomo by his fellow Democrats on some very sensitive subjects: Hydrofracking, the millionaire’s tax and Occupy Wall Street.
As we reported yesterday, Jacobs move – accomplished via proxy votes – to table all three resolutions without any debate briefly turned the party’s fall meeting at the Desmond in Colonie into a shouting match. But Jacobs was unapologetic when I asked him about the incident, saying:
“I don’t think that it’s appropriate to do anything that embarrasses our own, Democratic, incumbent governor – certainly if it’s not necessary. And I don’t think anybody’s arguing that that’s necessary. To just do it because some people have a view of their own that they want to voice in a state committee meeting just doesn’t make a lot of sense.”
“When you have a Republican governor and the state party wants to put out resolutions giving direction to our party members, giving our views to the media and perhaps to a Republican governor, that’s completely appropriate and a different circumstance.”
“But you know something, we’ve got a governor who’s doing an outstanding job. He has made more progress in this state and is visible by the people, he’s got a 72 percent popularity rating. And that’s not because of nothing that’s because of the job that he’s done. So when you have an overwhelming – and it is overwhelming – number of members of the state committee who simply want to come there and support him and endorse him, I m not going to see to it that he’s embarrassed on my watch if I can avoid it.”
A reader/viewer reminded me after the interview had already aired of a another potential reason why Jacobs might have wanted the hydrofracking resolution, which called for a ban on drilling, to be rejected. The Post reported back in August that Jacobs, who owns several successful summer camps, has signed a drilling lease with Hess for some on some 140 acres of land at his Tyler Hill camp, just over the border from New York’s Catskill Mountains. Jacobs acknowledged he had received cash up front in the deal, but did not disclose how much.
I reached Jacobs by phone in his Long Island office today, and he insisted his personal interests in no way influenced his actions at the committee meeting.
He told me the lease in question is located in the Delaware River Basin and would not have been impacted by the fracking resolution, which only referred to a ban in New York. He also noted that he had entered into the lease as part of a large landowners’ alliance and does not have any expectation that any drilling will actually take place on his property.
“This resolution wouldn’t have impacted me one way or another,” Jacobs said. “I did make a commitment…that I would never sign a lease for fracking in New York State – period. It’s just too controversial for me to do a thing like that, never mind which I don’t want fracking on my land to begin with. I run a children’s camp. I’m not Jed Clampett you know.”
(In case you don’t get that “Beverly Hillbillies” reference, click here).
Nov 8th - 1:52 pm
The state Democratic Party will hold its annual fall meeting in Albany next week (Nov. 16-17) at which at least two resolutions will be debated and voted on that could prove rather troublesome to its de facto leader, Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
One resolution, which was forwarded to me by a reader, was making the rounds of NYC Democratc clubs late last month. It calls for banning hydrofracking at both the state and federal levels and also urges further research in, and economic support for, alternative forms of “non-polluting” energy sources like wind, solar and hydropower.
The fact that such a resolution exists is not a surprise, particularly in light of the fact that voters are so closely divided over this issue – 44-43, according to the most recent Q poll, 43-41 in NYC, despite the fact that the city’s watershed would be protected via a no-drilling zone under the DEC’s draft proposal.
It is nevertheless a bit of a jab at Cuomo. Even though the governor has carefully avoided expressing a personal opinion on fracking, he has given every indication of being interested in seeing it approved in the Marcellus (and, by extension, Utica) shales – assuming, as he likes to say, that the “science” indicates it can be done safely.
There’s also another resolution, which I have yet to see, that expresses support for the Occupy Wall Street movement, which has been a sticky wicket for Cuomo. The governor has said he’s “fine” with Occupy Albany, but reportedly tried to get the protestors removed by city officials. He has also refused to budge off his opposition to the so-called millionaire’s tax, which has become a rallying cry for demonstrators across the state.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs told me yesterday that the threshold for getting a resolution onto the agenda is pretty low, requiring about a dozen state committee member signatures. But, he warned, it takes a majority of the weighted vote to pass a resolution, and that’s not a foergone conclusion.
“There are two or three resolutions, and they’ll all get discussed,” the chairman told me. “I’m saying they’re going to get discussed; I’m not saying they’re going to pass. The beauty of the Democratic Party is that people with a wide range of views and opinions are able to voice and articulate them.”
Nov 7th - 12:47 pm
Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs blamed a bookkeeping error for a $200,000 contribution to the party from his summer camp company that far exceeded the corporate contribution limit, saying it has been converted into a personal loan to the organization from himself and his wife, Mindy.
The GOP noticed the Nov. 2 contribution to the local party’s operating committee from Jacob’s Timber Lake Management Corp. on the state Board of Elections 24-notice list and cried foul.
Corporations must adhere to a $5,000 aggregate annual contribution limit that applies to candidates are well as committees, unless, of course, we’re speaking of housekeeping committees, which have no contribution limits. Individuals are limited to $150,000 a year, which also applies to loans, according to Jacobs. The chairman said half of the $200,000 loan is from him, and the other is from his wife.
Jacobs said the $200,000 check was wired from his camp by “mistake.” It was supposed to be a loan all along, he insisted, and the error has been corrected as of today. (If it hadn’t been, the money would have had to have been returned by tomorrow, Election Day, since it is far, FAR over the limit).
UPDATE: Apparently, the chairman has changed his tune on this issue since it first surfaced last Friday, when he said: “You can give a contribution that is unlimited to a political party. The contribution was from a corporate account. I reimbursed the corporation through a loan, That was from me personally. It will be paid back. I’m not sure of the date.”
Also, an election attorney noted that made a contribution of $25,000 to the party on Oct. 11, which would push him over the $102,300 (not $150,000) individual contribution limit. In addition, Timber Lake Corp. has already given $18,000 in 2011, which is $13,000 over the aggregate limit.
The chairman rejected the suggestion that the party is in financial jeopardy. He said he has raised some $1.25 million this year, and the loan is merely a float to tide things over until the holidays when he expects all the last-minute pledges for financial support he has received in the final days of the 2011 campaign.
Jacobs also took the opportunity to lob a few verbal bombs in the direction of his counterpart, Nassau County GOP Chairman Joe Mondello, saying:
“If the chairman is looking to make a statement about the difference between what I do with the party and the way he manages his, I think you can clearly see I have a long history of personally giving money to our party. He has an even longer history of personally taking money out of his party.”
…I contribute to the party, and I don’t make any money in politics. I don’t take a salary for either the state or country (Democratic chairmanships), no government money comes to me, and my business sure as heck doesn’t benefit. There are times I’ve done this with the country party; there’s times I’ve helped out the state party when necessary. I believe it’s important our message gets out there.”
“While I am a good fundraiser, and we’ve raised a tremendous amount of money, the Republicans are far better than we are. They always have been because they like to raise money from people who do business with the county.”
Oct 6th - 3:10 pm
I recently received an email invite from Nassau County Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs inviting me to the party’s annual fall fundraising gala on Oct. 18, which is intended to raise campaign cash to help fuel the Democrats’ effort to win back control of the local Legislature this fall.
“From voting themselves pay raises to trying to trick us into voting for a property tax increase in August 1st’s Coliseum Tax referendum, the Republicans have proven they are out of touch with the residents of Nassau County,” Jacobs wrote.
Jacobs also happens to chair the state Democratic Party – a role for which he was tapped by former Gov. David Paterson and has retained, despite considerable speculation that he would be replaced by the party’s executive director, Charlie King, since Gov. Andrew Cuomo took office last January.
In fact, Jacobs was just re-elected to another two-year term. There’s no mechanism for removing a party leader in the middle of his or her tenure, but Jacobs has repeatedly said he serves at the governor’s pleasure and intends to stay as long as Cuomo will have him.
The state party traditionally holds a fall fundraising gala, too. And that’s just one of several big events the party generally puts on every year – events that have, in the past, been headlined by the Democrats’ top office-holder, which, since 2006, has been the governor. I asked Jacobs if Cuomo will be lending his name to the state party for an event this fall, and he said:
“We’re working on the idea of that; I would like to get that done. Obviously, we are working on that with the governor’s team…but there’s nothing firm yet at the moment. (Cuomo) has been busy doing government work, and has indicated that’s where he wanted his focus to be.”
Jun 9th - 10:51 am
Pressure from fellow Democrats for Rep. Anthony Weiner to resign is mounting – so far at least of his House colleagues and two former DNC chairs have said they believe it’s time for him to pack it in.
So far, however, none of those calls are coming from Weiner’s fellow New Yorkers, even with the example of the last congressman to post a compromising picture of himself on the Internet – former Rep. Chris Lee – a very recent memory.
State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs declined during a CapTon interview last night to draw parallels between Lee and Weiner, explaining:
“I felt badly for him, and I said so, too, and for his family and what they had to go through. It’s awful enough when you make a mistake like this, on its own merits. But then to have it in the public and the embarrassment that goes with it. It’s tremendously difficult.”
Jacobs reminded me of the “human piece” of scandals of this nature, saying people should “step back and give them (Weiner and his wife, Huma Abedin) just a few moments,” adding: “There is no imperative in the representation of his district for him to step down at this exact minute.”
The chairman refused to close the door on a possible Weiner resignation – just not right now. If the House ethics inquiry finds the congressman broke the rules and/or the law in some way, well…that’s a different story altogether.
I asked Jacobs about the “Weiner as redistricting sacrificial lamb” speculation that’s making it’s way through political circles, and he laughed it off – although it didn’t deny that it’s entirely plausible – calling it a “Machiavellian” scheme.