Lieutenant Governor

Harlem Politicos Endorse Hochul

From the Morning Memo:

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul added several endorsements by Harlem politicos on Wednesday.

Notable figures include NAACP New York President Dr. Hazel Dukes and former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, along with former Congressman Charlie Rangel, State Senator Brian Benjamin, Assemblywoman Inez Dickens, Assemblyman Al Taylor, and Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez.

Among New York focused issues like $15 minimum wage, paid family leave and the Excelsior Scholarship Program, the politicians made note of Hochul’s support of the SAFE Act, noting, “She has stood up to the NRA which has resisted even the most common-sense reforms.”

As a member of Congress and Erie County clerk, Hochul had received an “A” rating from the NRA.

With New Yorkers rights at stake from the Trump administration and Republicans in Congress, Kathy is proud that New York is fighting back. New York has stood up to Donald Trump to denounce the influence of white nationalists, defend voting rights from Trump’s justice department, and protect immigrant families from Trump’s inhumane family separation policy and out-of-control deportation force.

Hochul has successfully garnered national endorsements from the likes of former presidential candidate Hilary Clinton and former vice president of the United States Joe Biden, as well as key green lights from the state Democratic Party and women’s groups, i.e. Emily’s List and Planned Parenthood.

However, the race for the lieutenant governor nomination remains up in the air.

Hochul is currently embroiled in a battle over finances with her opponent, Brooklyn New York City Councilman Jumanne Williams, who recently cross endorsed with actress turn gubernatorial candidate, Cynthia Nixon. For the past several weeks, Hochul’s campaign has railed against Williams, first for his failure to submit campaign finance disclosure report to the Board of Elections on time—owed to a technical issue—then taking issue with several campaign contributions over the BOE limit, which the Williams campaign insisted would be returned.

Hochul has even gone as far as to release an attack ad on her opponent, highlighting the City Councilman’s debt and foreclosure of a former business venture. The video ad prompted a Williams-Nixon response, dubbing Hochul’s effort in line with “racial dog whistling and poor shaming.”

In September, Hochul faces Williams in a Democratic primary. As of July’s BOE filings, her campaign war chest boasts over $1.2 million dollars to assist in her re-election bid.

Latimer, Stewart-Cousins Endorse James; Abinanti Goes for Teachout

A coalition of Westchester elected officials endorsed NYC Public Advocate Letitia “Tish” James for state attorney general at a press conference in White Plains today.

Among others, Westchester County Executive George Latimer and state Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins added their names to a growing list of Democratic elected officials who are following the governor’s leader in supporting James to fill the vacancy left by the abrupt resignation of ex-AG Eric Schneiderman following sexual harassment and abuse allegations lodged against him.


“Tish James has spent her career fighting for progress on issues that matter to me and matter to people in Yonkers, throughout Westchester, and across New York State,” Stewart-Cousins said. “She has been instrumental in uplifting working families, has lead the charge on securing women’s rights, has fought for accessible and affordable healthcare, and has defended our most basic rights. I know that as Attorney General, Tish James will continue to build on this record. I look forward to working with Attorney General Tish James and a Democratic majority in the Senate to pass progressive legislation that improves the lives of New Yorkers.”

Stewart-Cousins’ decision to back James is particularly noteworthy, given the fact that a number of insurgent primary challengers to former IDC members have cross-endorsed one of the public advocate’s opponents, Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout.

James faces a four way Democratic primary in September. Also in the running are Hudson Valley Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, and former Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve. A Siena poll out this week showed James with a modest lead over her opponents, but pollster Steve Greenberg characterized the race as wide open and competitive this far out from the election.

Since James received the governor’s support at the party convention back in May, Teachout has been highlighting her independence from Cuomo, whom she unsuccessfully challenged in the 2014 gubernatorial primary. Today, Teachout received the endorsement of another Westchester elected official, Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, who said:

“Zephyr Teachout sees the big picture. She is an independent corruption fighter who is not beholden to big money or the political establishment – free to use her legal expertise to take on Washington and Albany. She gets it that those who the Attorney General may investigate should not finance the Attorney General’s campaign.”

Abinanti is the second member of the Assembly to endorse Teachout. The first was Capital Region Democrat Phil Steck, who also cited the candidate’s independence as the main driver behind his decision to back her.

Williams To Return Contributions ‘Accepted in Error’

A campaign finance report made public Thursday on behalf of Democratic lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams included three donations that exceeded the $5,000 limit for corporate contributions.

Aside from surpassing that limit, $50,000 worth of donations may have originated from same source, which is also not allowed under state elections law. If he is forced to return the funds, Williams will deplete his campaign’s bank account and cripple his spending capability.

Responding to questions via email about whether these contributions would be returned if deemed to be accepted incorrectly, the campaign spokesman, William Gerlich, said:

“In the past filing period, our campaign received contributions which we now realize were accepted in error. On recognizing this, we will be returning these donations.”

He did not specify which contributions in particular will be returned.

The promised refunds come as the campaign of Williams’ opponent, LG Kathy Hochul, threw down the gauntlet this week, issuing four days worth of queries about the whereabouts of his disclosure report.

A submission mix-up on the Williams campaign end, attributed to technical difficulties, initially stalled the report’s release for three days. But once it was made public, red flags were immediately raised.

In a statement Thursday evening, the Hochul campaign called on the State Board of Elections to investigate Williams’ finances, claiming his disclosure report “shows thousands of illegal corporate donations in excess of state limits.”

Hochul’s campaign says Williams should comply with BOE law and return the $35,000.

“New Yorkers deserve better than the disappointing and troubling actions from the Williams’ campaign. We demand he refund the $35,000 immediately in accordance with the law.”

The campaign issued a follow up plea just before 5 p.m. today:


On April 12, 2018, Councilman Williams illegally accepted $50,000+ from multiple corporations all leading back to one person who receives multiple city contracts in his district. Apparently the Councilman does not feel the rules apply to him.

Not only did his campaign file 3 days late, they also blatantly ignored campaign finance laws that attempt to limit corporate influence because clearly that’s not a priority for him. Councilman Williams, let voters know when you’ve finally refunded the $35,000 in accordance with the law. New Yorkers deserve better from their leaders.”

The Williams campaign emailed several minutes prior to the release, stating in the quote at the beginning of this blog post their intention to refund contributions.

Hochul reported raising $1.2 million over the past six months, and has $1.24 total cash on hand.

Over 70 percent of her donations hail from individual donors, according to the LG’s campaign, and over 60 percent of those individual donors wrote checks for $500 or less.

*This article has been updated on 7/27/18 3:30 p.m.

In the second line, $35,000 worth of donations has been updated to $50,000.

Hochul Presses Williams on Campaign Finance Disclosure

Airs of impatience wafted through the lieutenant governor’s race Wednesday morning.

Beginning at 10:44 a.m., the Hochul campaign issued four emails pressing opponent New York City councilman Jumanne Williams to release a copy of his campaign finances, posing a “friendly reminder” to the Brooklyn Democrat. The emails state Williams is not only two days behind Board of Elections’ July 16th filing deadline, but claims he “did not take the filing deadline seriously.”

This is the second day the Hochul campaign has called on Williams to release his campaign filings.

The emails speculate, “What exactly is the councilman hiding? Do the rules apply to him?” before a follow-up poses a possible solution to Williams’ disclosure report predicament. The fourth email, sent at 12:31 p.m., includes an attachment received by the Hochul campaign from the BOE reminding candidates that even though they may have submitted a report, it is to verify receipt and accuracy of the report itself. There lies the rub.


CT Hochul williams campaign finance 071818

10:44 a.m.


“Councilman Williams’ campaign financial disclosure is nowhere to be found, yet we are two days past the filing deadline. Voters continue to be left in the dark on how much the Councilman has raised and who exactly is supporting his campaign. Timeliness around a deadline and transparency have always been a priority for our campaign. We can factually say that hasn’t been the case thus far for the Councilman.

Councilman, please let us know when you’re able to get around to disclosing your report. I guess better late than never? The voters are waiting.”


11:45 a.m.


“After two days and multiple requests for comment on why there was no campaign financial disclosure filed for Councilman Williams, the Councilman’s campaign belatedly and vaguely conveyed approximate top line numbers instead of releasing the report that was allegedly submitted to the Board of Elections. What exactly is the Councilman hiding? Do the rules not apply to him? Release the copy of the report you sent to BOE. The voters deserve to know.”


12:23 a.m.


“The following email was received by the Hochul campaign from the Board of Elections after our financial disclosure was submitted (on time):

This email could not be clearer: “It is your responsibility to verify RECEIPT and ACCURACY of your report.” Councilman Williams did not take this filing deadline seriously. What exactly is the Councilman hiding? Do the rules not apply to him? Release the copy of the report you sent to BOE. The voters deserve to know.”


12:31 a.m.

**Updated with attachment of screenshot in release**



“The following email was received by the Hochul campaign from the Board of Elections after our financial disclosure was submitted (on time):

This email could not be clearer: “It is your responsibility to verify RECEIPT and ACCURACY of your report.” Councilman Williams did not take this filing deadline seriously. What exactly is the Councilman hiding? Do the rules not apply to him? Release the copy of the report you sent to BOE. The voters deserve to know.”

The Hochul campaign submitted their report to the BOE on time, having filed under Friends for Kathy Hochul, totaling over $1.24 million cash on hand. With less than two months until primary elections on September 13, Hochul is keen on defeating her opponent, releasing a campaign ad criticizing Williams’ LGBTQ and women’s rights record. She’s received a number of notable endorsements, both on her own and via a Cuomo-Hochul ticket, but as she faces a primary, Hochul is running separately from Governor Cuomo.


Jumaane Williams’ campaign clarified that their financial disclosure report was filed on time, as per the Board of Elections’ Monday, July 16 deadline, but due to technical issues, a finalized report has yet to be released. The campaign is working with the BOE to rectify the problem.

“Our campaign’s financial disclosure report was filed on time Monday evening but there were technical issues that we are working with the Board of Elections to immediately address.”

The campaign maintains they’ve raised almost $200,000 and are confident going into the September primary.

“Our campaign has built strong momentum over the past several months thanks to our grassroots donor base, so we are very well positioned to win this September.”


Edie Windsor’s Widow Slams LG Candidate Williams in Cuomo/Hochul Ad

Judith Kasen-Windsor, the widow of the late LGBT/gay marriage battle icon and activist Edie Windsor, appears in a new TD ad on behalf of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and LG Kathy Hochul, slamming Hochul’s Democratic primary opponent, Brooklyn Councilman Jumaane Williams, for his personal opposition to same-sex marriage.

Kasen-Windsor’s support of Cuomo and Hochul is not new. She endorsed the Democratic incumbents back in June, and ripped Williams for his positions on both gay marriage and abortion.

At the time, a spokesman for Williams said the councilman “100 percent supports” both gay marriage and abortion – an assertion that Williams made himself back in 2017 when he was trying (unsuccessfully) to become speaker of the Council.

In 2013, Williams said he would not want to overturn Roe v. Wade and believes women should have access to abortion, while still being personally opposed to it. On gay marriage, he said: “I personally believe the definition of marriage is between a male and a female, but that has nothing to do with my belief that government has to recognize everybody’s relationships as equal.”

The ad was released by Hochul’s campaign, which made no mention about where and when it’s running, who made it or how big the buy is – assuming there is one. Also, Kasen-Windsor mentions both Cuomo (twice) and Hochul (once) in the spot, though technically speaking, the two are running separately in the September primary.

The ad also mentions Cuomo’s primary opponent, actress/activist Cynthia Nixon.

The general election ballot won’t be set until after the primary, and it’s possible that Cuomo could end up running with a partner not of his choosing – in other words, Williams – if the councilman manages to defeat Hochul, a former congresswoman and ex-Erie County clerk.

Hochul went through this once before, with speculation that she could be a weak link for Cuomo in the 2014 primary, when she faced off against net neutrality guru and Columbia Law School Prof. Tim Wu, while Cuomo was battling Fordham Law Prof. Zephyr Teachout. Hochul defeated Wu, receiving just slightly less of the vote (about 60 percent) than Cuomo did (about 62 percent).

There has been some speculation that since the bulk of the primary vote comes out of New York City, where Williams is fairly well known, Hochul could be in more trouble this time around. She has been redoubling her attention on the downstate region of late, and this week reported raising $1.2 million.

“I was married to Edie Windsor, a champion for gay rights who took the fight for marriage equality all the way to the Supreme Court and won. Today, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee threatens our progress and our equality.”

“Two years after marriage equality became New York’s law, Cynthia Nixon’s running mate Mr. Williams said, and I quote: ‘I personally believe the definition of marriage is between a male and a female.'”

“New York will not go back. We need leaders like Governor Cuomo who are 100 percent committed to LGBTQ rights. New York must lead the way on LGBTQ rights and we can count on Kathy Hochul and Governor Andrew Cuomo.”

Sharpton Wades Into the LG Fray

From today’s Morning Memo:

Republicans have gleefully predicted that GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino’s selection of Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss as his running mate will pressure Gov. Andrew Cuomo to diversify the Democratic ticket this year.

Moss, who is unknown to many outside his home county, makes his debut on the statewide stage at the convention today. He is the first black statewide candidate in New York GOP history. He’s also believed to be only the fourth African-American from either major party to make it onto the statewide ballot.

In 2010, Cuomo was criticized for putting together an all-white, all-male ticket, with the exception of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, who was running in a special election to keep the seat she inherited – compliments of New York’s first black governor, David Paterson – from Hillary Clinton.

At the time, Cuomo was believed to prefer Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice for attorney general, due to her ticket-balancing capabilities, but she lost the five way Democratic primary to then-state Sen. Eric Schneiderman.

Cuomo’s selection of then-Rochester Mayor Bob Duffy to be his running mate sparked criticism from black leaders – especially the Rev. Al Sharpton – and led Cuomo to promise that his administration, should he be elected governor, would be the most diverse in modern memory.

That mollified minority leaders for a while. But now that Duffy has announced he won’t be seeking re-election with Cuomo, they are again pressuring Cuomo to right the wrongs of 2010 by selecting a running mate of color.

So far, the only black contender on the public LG short list is Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, who was also mentioned as a potential No. 2 for Cuomo back in 2010.

But Sharpton apparently has some other ideas. During his National Action Network radio show yesterday, Sharpton expressed hope that Cuomo would this time heed the call to diversify the Democratic ticket, and even made some suggestions as to who the governor might consider:

“I hope that as the Democrats put their ticket together statewide that it is a diverse ticket,” Sharpton said.

“I’d like to see Governor Cuomo put somebody on the ticket – a lot of qualified African Americans and Latinos. Hakeem Jeffries, the congressman in Brooklyn. Eric Adams, the borough president. The borough president of the Bronx is Ruben Diaz Jr.”

“Many, many qualified people, and I’d like to see them run statewide.”

A little later on in the show, Sharpton reiterated his call, saying:

“I’m hoping they have a diverse ticket in New York State other states and other cities.”

“We need to vote and we need to see ourselves in positions on these tickets. And see the right representations, people that will fight and stand up in these executive positions or legislative positions for what is right.”

Coincidentally, Jeffries’ name was floated to me by a Democratic operative yesterday morning. He said Team Cuomo finds the idea intriguing, and Jeffries himself hasn’t ruled out the possibility of a statewide run.

But a source close to Jeffries scoffed at the idea, noting the former assemblyman only just got elected to Congress in 2012, and is seeking re-election this year.

Jeffries is viewed as an up-and-comer in D.C., and this source couldn’t imagine why he would give that up for a thankless job like lieutenant governor.

Unless, of course, the timeline for holding said thankless job was short, thanks to the national ambitions of the No. 1 – either as a candidate for president or a cabinet contender if a Democrat other than himself – like, say, Hillary Clinton – wins in 2016.

Buffalo Mayor Deflects Lt. Governor Rumors

Western New York was once again highlighted during Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fourth State of State Address – a focus that has fueled rumors the governor may be considering Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown as his new running mate.

“The governor has been incredibly focused on Buffalo, on Western New York, Upstate New York,” Brown said.

“He has certainly put his Money where his mouth is. He has visited Buffalo frequently; I think more than 15 times last year alone.”

Despite weather concerns that prompted Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz to cancel his trip to Albany, Brown was in attendance at the Empire State Convention Center for Cuomo’s speech.

The three-term Buffalo mayor was gushing with praise after the governor concluded his remarks.

“He (Cuomo) certainly recognized that over the past decades, Upstate New York, Western, New York, Buffalo seemingly was forgotten by the state; we were left behind in many ways,” Brown said.

“But we’re also an area with great promise, great resources and he is making the investment in the second largest city in the State of New York to make the entire state stronger.”

“And those investments are certainly paying dividends in business development and job creation in our community.”

Since Lt. Governor Bob Duffy interviewed for the top job at the Rochester Business Alliance last year, without notifying Cuomo beforehand, whispers about his desire to leave the position have become louder. 

Brown was mentioned as a candidate for Lt. Governor back in 2010 and, with continued speculation over Duffy’s future, his name keeps coming up as a potential addition to the 2014 ticket.

Capital Tonight’s Nick Reisman asked Brown if he’d consider running as Cuomo’s running mate, if asked.

“My full focus and attention is on serving as Mayor of the City of Buffalo,” Brown responded. 

When Reisman noted that wasn’t exactly a Shermanesque denial of interest in the job, Brown responded:

“I’m just very focused on Buffalo and what’s happening here in Buffalo, tremendous year 2013, over $2.2 Billion in investment I’m hoping to see a continuation of that in 2014,” Brown responded.

Cuomo was scheduled to visit Buffalo Thursday for a Western New York version of the State of the State, but cancelled because of what his staff called a “scheduling emergency.” He’s sending EDSC President and CEO Ken Adams in his place.

Cuomo has lavished attention – otherwise known as “Buffalove” – on Western New York since the 2010 election, when he lost the region to his GOP/Conservative challenger, Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino.

This year, Paladino is threatening to mount a re-match against Cuomo, potentially running only on the Conservative line if the GOP’s selection of a gubernatorial candidate doesn’t measure up to his standards.

Cuomo Sets Economic Council Meetings (Update)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo today announced the first meetings for the 10 regional economic development councils, with the inaugural events being held this week.

Update: These won’t be public meetings. Rather, the councils will hold an organizational meeting and then follow that with a media availability. At the news conference, they’ll announce future public and private meetings. It’s all a bit questionable, since they’re talking about dividing up $1 billion public funds for economic-development aid.

The first meetings will be held Wednesday in Buffalo and Monroe County (a full schedule is after the jump).

Cuomo created the councils as a “bottom up approach” to job creation. The councils will compete for a $1 billion pool of money for tax credits and grants.

The competitive process will create both winners and losers, Cuomo said, with some regions losing out on the funds.

Cuomo, along with Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy, crisscrossed the state last week promoting the councils and announcing who would serve on them.

Duffy will be the councils’ chairman.

Cuomo also announced last week a sort of super committee that will oversee all 10 of the regional committees, which was set up to manage and streamline the process.

“The members of the state’s Regional Councils are true leaders in their respective industries,” Duffy said in a statement. “Involving community stakeholders and focusing on local economies will finally allow New York to identify and take advantage of the assets offered by different regions in the state. As Chair of the Regional Councils, I look forward to beginning our work together to open New York up for business and make our plans for economic development and job creation a reality.”

More >

Senate Considers Lt. Gov. Appointment Bill (Update)

The Senate will consider a bill today that would create a succession plan for the lieutenant governor, fixing an issue that could have ended the 2009 leadership coup early.

The measure, sponsored by Sen. Joe Griffo, R-Rome, would allow the governor to fill the lieutenant governor’s office if there’s a vacancy. The pick would be subject to Senate approval. There is no Assembly same-as measure.

The lack of a succession plan went into relief in 2009, when two Democratic lawmakers — Sens. Pedro Espada and Hiram Monserrate — joined with Republicans to overthrow the Democratic majority.

When Monserrate switch back to the Democratic fold, the Senate was tied 30-30. Because Eliot Spitzer had resigned in disgrace leaving Gov. David Paterson in charge, the temporary president of the Senate became the acting lieutenant governor.

It was unclear during the coup if Dean Skelos was filling that job or if it was Pedro Espada — that latter of which was an especially horrifying prospect for good-government groups and Democratic lawmakers. Paterson tried to appoint Richard Ravitch to fill the job, but then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said the appointment was illegal.

The Court of Appeals, however, ruled in favor of Paterson.

From the bill memo:

The recent vacancy in the office of Lieutenant-Governor has called attention to the fact that under current law, there is no method available to appoint a new Lieutenant-Governor. This bill would enact a system identical to the one used under the Federal Constitution to fill a vacancy in the office of the Vice-President. Requiring separate votes from each House of the Legislature, rather than a single vote in joint
session, ensures that no single House has enough votes to confirm the nomination by itself.

Senator Griffo tells CapTon that he is going to lay the bill aside today, because it doesn’t have an Assembly sponsor. He has introduced this bill for the past 4 years, even before the Senate coup. He tells us that the inspiration for the bill actually came from Alfred DelBello’s resignation back in 1985.

Duffy Made More Than Cuomo In 2010

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy last year made more money in 2010 than his boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, thanks in part to his Rochester police pension.

Cuomo and Duffy both made available their tax returns today, something of a change from last year when the then-attorney general filed for an extension on his tax returns.

Cuomo reported an income of $148,609 and is due to receive a return from the feds for $8,050. He owes $3,582 in state taxes.

The governor listed the Westchester County residence of his girlfriend, TV chef Sandra Lee, as his full-time address. But he also paid $6,397 taxes for being a full-time New York City resident “out of an abundance of caution,” spokesman John Milgrim said.

Cuomo donated $10,000 to Help USA, the anti-homelessness organization he founded.

Duffy, who filed jointly with wife Barbara, reported $193,134 in income, with $122,879 from his job as mayor of Rochester and $70,255 from his police pension.

Barbara Duffy worked as a human resources consultant for St. John Fischer and reported a $42,600 in income.

The Duffys owed the federal government an additional $3,323 and are due to receive a $840 refund from the state.

Duffy reported donating $2,825 worth of clothes to Goodwill (quite a bit more than the $150 worth of clothes David Paterson gave) and gave $3,445 in cash donations. Details of the cash donations were not immediately available.