Katko: ‘No Regrets’ About Purchase, Theft of Gun

Republican NY-24 candidate John Katko said he has “no regrets” about purchasing a handgun that was subsequently stolen from his truck in 2000 and used in a hold-up and shootout that left two Syracuse men dead.

In a statement issued this morning in response to a Syracuse Post-Standard story about the 14-year-old incident, Katko said he bought the gun – a .40 caliber Glock semi-automatic pistol – as a security precaution against “very real physical threats” against himself and his family during the time he worked in the US attorney’s office. Katko noted he had permission to obtain the weapon and did so “at the urging of the United States Marshals Service and the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”

“Fourteen years ago I, too, became the victim of a crime,” Katko said. “My protective weapon was stolen from a locked briefcase concealed from view in my locked vehicle. I left the weapon in that vehicle as my wife and I felt uncomfortable taking it into an area church for a required meeting with other Onondaga County Foster Parent Program volunteers – c learly not an appropriate venue to be carrying a weapon of any kind.”

“This incident was fully investigated by the United States Department of Justice and the United States Marshals Service and no wrong doing was found. The stolen weapon was later recovered on a suspect in a double homicide; tests confirmed the weapon was not used in the commission of that crime.”

The Post-Standard story notes that Katko broke no state or federal gun laws, and he was not disciplined by the Justice Department after the shooting. “But a review of the case shows he likely violated federal policies for the safe handling and storage of government-issued weapons.”

Katko has repeatedly insisted the gun was in a locked case in his locked truck. A police report cited by the paper says Katko told police that the gun – loaded with nine rounds of ammunition – was in a green canvas bag that was stolen out of the truck along with his US Attorney’s Office ID card, personal checks and other papers.

Katko, who quit his job as a federal prosecutor to challenge Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei this fall, accused his “opponents” of rehashing this incident in an effort to impact his congressional run. He insists that “many relevant details” were left out of the Post-Standard story.

“People should know that I never back down from a fight,” Katko said. “And I will not allow this story to distract from the needs of Central New York voters regarding jobs, our economy, fairness, and failed leadership in Washington.”

NY-24 GOP candidate statement on use of stolen gun in armed robbery in 2000. by liz_benjamin6490

Maffei Hits The Airwaves

Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei is out with what I believe is his first TV ad of this campaign cycle – a spot that tries to paint him as hardworking Syracuse East Side boy made good who’s in it to help constituents, not for the perks that come along with the title of “congressman.”

The ad, “Hard Work,” notes that Maffei refused “taxpayer-funded subsidy for health care” available to members of Congress under Obamacare, and also just last month introduced a bill – known as the “Members PLay by the Same Rules Act” – which prevent all his colleagues in both the House and Senate from accepting that benefit.

Maffei is enrolled in a co-op plan offered through the New York State of Health exchange, and, according to a recent press release, pays his premium out of pocket every month.

Maffei, who lost his Central New York seat to former Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle by 648 votes in 2010, and then won it back from her two years ago, this year is facing Republican former prosecutor John Katko, who is running on the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party lines.

This ad comes on the heels of the first publicly released poll of the NY-24 race, which showed Katko trailing Maffei by just seven percentage points. The poll was conducted by Public Opinion Strategies, a top GOP firm, and was commissioned by the Katko campaign.

The NRCC didn’t think much of Maffei’s ad, issuing a statement that called it a “a laughable exercise in deception and hypocrisy,” from a “D.C. insider.”

“Maffei left out the fact that he still collected his paycheck after voting against every budget offered last year,” NRCC spokesman Ian Prior said. “He failed to disclose that he voted for first class airfare and taxpayer funded healthcare for life for members of Congress. And nowhere did Maffei mention that he passed out over $200,000 in taxpayer funded staff bonuses and supported requiring that those same taxpayers pay for his political campaigns.”

Justice Rejects GOP Bid to Oust Maffei From WFP Line (Updated)

A state Supreme Court justice today thwarted the Onondaga County GOP’s effort to kick Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei off the labor-backed Working Families Party line, rejecting the party’s argument that the congressman’s campaign manager is not a New York resident, and therefore should not have been able to circulate WFP petitions on his behalf.

The Republicans maintained that Maffei’s campaign manager, Kane Miller, shouldn’t have been allowed to register as a WFP member because he’s not a permanent state resident. But Maffei’s attorney, Frank Hoare, argued that Kane meets all the legal requirements for registering to vote in New York: He’s a US citizen of at least 18 years of age and has resided at his current address in Syracuse for at least 30 days.

Justice Hugh Gilbert agreed with Hoare, noting Miller has a lease to remain in Syracuse through February 2015, even though he has been very transitory since graduating college, due to the nature of his campaign work, and has registered to vote in his native Georgia and also in North Carolina.

In a statement issued by Maffei’s campaign, Hoare said today’s decision was “no surprise, given the unanimous, bipartisan” decisions by the Onondaga County and state Boards of Elections that Miller was, in fact, eligible to carry petitions for the congressman.

“Each of these decisions reaffirm that representatives of the Maffei campaign followed the letter and spirit of the law and had the proper qualifications to collect the requisite signatures to qualify for the Working Families Party ballot lin,” Hoare said. “The latest decision by the Onondaga County Supreme Court should be the final chapter in this distraction. As I have said all along, this challenge from John Katko and his Tea Party allies has no merit and is nothing more than a waste of taxpayer dollars.”

The WFP could prove crucial to Maffei in his battle against Republican John Katko, since Katko has three ballot lines – GOP, Independence and Conservative – to Maffei’s two – Democrat and, thanks to this decision, WFP.

Gilbert’s decision appears below. It is unclear whether Dadey will appeal. UPDATE: Reached on his cell phone, Dadey said he has been in Western New York for most of the day and only just had a chance to review the decision. He will be discussing it with the Katko campaign and its attorneys over the weekend. In short, no decision has been made yet as to an appeal, but the door is open to file one.

State Supreme court decision keeping Rep. Dan Maffei on the WFP line. by liz_benjamin6490

DNC Chair to Syracuse for Maffei

Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz will be in Syracuse Monday to help Rep. Dan Maffei launch “Women for Maffei” – a coalition that will highlight the congressman’s “strong record on women’s issues and commitment to strengthening the middle class.”

Maffei’s campaign announced Wasserman-Schultz’s impending visit. The event will take place at 3:15 p.m. at a Syracuse establishment called Laci’s Tapas Bar.

An appearance from the DNC chair indicates that the NY-24 race is on the national party’s radar screen. Maffei is facing a challenge from Republican former assistant US attorney John Kato, who also has the Conservative and Independence Party lines.

Katko is a newcomer to the political scene, but NY-24 is a closely divided district that has traded hands several times in recent years. This is Maffei’s second time holding the seat. He was first elected in 2008 and then lost his seat in 2010 to former Republican Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle in a very tight race (she won by just 648 votes).

Maffei launched a re-match against Buerkle in 2012 and ousted her, thanks in part to a court-ordered redistricting plan that made the lines less favorable to the Republican incumbent.

Buerkle contemplated a re-match of her own this fall, but decided against that after she was appointed a commissioner on the federal Consumer Product Safety Commission by President Obama.

County BOE Keeps Maffei On WFP Line

The Onondaga County Board of Elections agreed on Monday to not deny Rep. Dan Maffei the Working Families Party line in his re-election run.

Republicans earlier this month filed a challenge to petition signatures witnessed by Kane Miller, arguing was registered to vote in two states, North Carolina and Georgia.

But the BOE in Onondaga County found “significant documentation” to keep the labor-backed ballot line.

“We are pleased but not surprised by the Onondaga County Board of Elections’ bipartisan, unanimous decision to confirm Kane Miller’s status as a duly registered voter,” said Frank Hoare, the Albany-based election lawyer representing Maffei. “The Onondaga County Board of Elections’ decision noted that ‘significant documentation’ was submitted to indicate and verify Mr. Miller’s address as a resident of the 24th Congressional District. The Onondaga County Board of Elections’ decision reaffirms that representatives of the Maffei campaign followed the letter and spirit of the law and had the proper qualifications to collect the requisite signatures to qualify for the Working Families Party ballot line.”

The WFP also cheered the ruling for Maffei as well.

“The Onondaga County Board of Elections made the right decision. This political stunt by John Katko and his Tea Party allies is a waste of time and taxpayer dollars. Maffei’s campaign has the endorsement of the Working Families Party and the signatures necessary to appear on the Working Families Party line on the ballot this fall,” said Bill Lipton, State Director of the Working Families Party, in a statement.

Maffei’s GOP opponent, John Katko, has the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party lines.

Katko Launches Bio Video

Republican John Katko launched a video on his campaign website on Friday providing an 7-minute biographical overview of his personal and professional life.

Katko runs through his roots in central New York, work as a prosecutor alongside his wife Robin.

The first-time candidate is a former federal prosecutor in Onondaga County who is challenging Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei.

The video serves an introduction for voters to Katko, who is making his first run for public office this year in the NY-24.

Maffei, who will be a guest on Capital Tonight this evening, is running for a third term after winning his seat back from Republican Ann Marie Buerkle in 2012.

GOP Tries To Push Maffei Off the WFP Line

The incomparable Bill Carey reports that Democratic incumbent Rep. Dan Maffei could lose a key spot on the November ballot if Republican leaders win a new court battle.

Maffei has the endorsement of Democrats for his re-election bid in NY-24. He also has the support of the labor-backed Working Families Party – but the GOP is trying to change that.

The Republicans filed an order to show cause today that seeks to invalidate Maffei’s WFP petitions, claiming a staffer of the congressman who witnessed requirement signatures on the petitions is not properly registered to vote in New York.

The GOP claims William Miller is registered in two other states – North Carolina and Georgia – and they raise questions over the validity of his registration here. Of just over 170 signatures gathered for the petitions, Miller was the witness for 117.

Maffei’s Republican opponent, former prosecutor John Katko, has the GOP, Conservative and Independence Party lines. If this challenge to Maffei’s WFP line is successful, the congressman would only have one line in November – the Democrats’ Row A. (Theoretically, that is, unless he creates a new, independent line to run on).

WFP State Director Bill Lipton blasted Katko and his “Tea Party allies” for filing this suit, which he said “has no merit and is simply an effort to disenfranchise voters.”

“Maffei’s campaign has the endorsement of the Working Families Party and the qualifications necessary to circulate and collect Working Families Party signatures,” Lipton said.

Frank Hoare, an Albany-based Election Law attorney representing Maffei’s campaign, called the challenge “a political stunt” designed to “distract Central New Yorkers from the fact that Katko won’t take a position on tough issues and doesn’t have a plan to create jobs in Central New York.”

“Representatives from the Friends of Dan Maffei Campaign followed the letter and spirit of the law and had the proper qualifications to circulate and collect the requisite signatures to qualify and appear on the ballot,” Hoare said.

A state Supreme Court justice has ordered a show cause hearing on the matter for May 5th.

Republicans try to push Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei off the WFP line. by liz_benjamin6490

Tenney To Primary Hanna In NY-22

As expected, Republican Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney on Wednesday launched her primary bid against GOP Rep. Richard Hanna.

The Congressional primary in New York will be held June 24.

“We need a real Republican in this race. Someone who will actually stand up for our Republican principles of less government spending, lower taxes, and greater opportunity for all. In the state Assembly, I have a proven record as strong fiscal conservative. In Washington, I will continue fighting for lower taxes and to preserve our constitutional freedoms. Taxpayers need a voice that will stand-up for them.”

In a release, Tenney touted her routes in the district and and her A+ rating from the National Rifle Association as well as her opposition to the SAFE Act.

Tenney, who represents the Utica area, has been a staunch critic of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his casino revenue settlements with the state’s Oneida Indian Nation in particular.

Hanna is considered a more moderate member of the state’s Republican House delegation when it comes to social positions.

Conservatives, GOP Unite In NY-24 Against Maffei

Conservative and Republican leaders in NY-24 have united behind former US Attorney John Katko to face off against Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei this fall.

Katko emerged from a field of seven (it was eight, but Jane Rossi, a Rome businesswoman and the ex-wife of Oneida Indian Nation leader Ray Halbritter, withdrew at the last minute) Republicans who interviewed with party leaders Saturday at the Palace Theater in Syracse. He left his job to run for office, and cited his experience fighting crime – especially gang members – as apt preparation for the campaign trail and D.C. politics.

Today, the Conservative leaders in NY-24, which includes committees from Onondaga, Wayne, Cayuga and Oswego counties, issued a statement in support of Katko, although they stressed that he had prevailed over several candidates who all had “excellent qualifications.”

“Mr. Katko aligns with our Conservative principles philosophically and understands the significance of this election,” said Onondaga County Conservative Chairman Chuck Mancabelli. “Mr. Katko has a strong command of the issues and more importantly, an ability to connect with the voters during the campaign. This is a key element for any candidate to be credible in today’s political climate.”

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long will have the final say on this endorsement, but with both the Republicans and the Conservatives behind him, Katko has a better shot at trying to prevent a GOP primary.

One of his rivals for Row B, John Lemondes, a retired Army colonel from LaFayette, has not yet decided whether he will seek to force a primary. He finished second to Katko during the GOP endorsement process, though Katko received more than 50 percent of the weighted party vote, according to Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey.

So far, only Ian Hunter of Syracuse, who fought with party leaders last year after he passed petitions to run on the GOP and Conservative lines in the mayor’s race, has announced plans to mount a GOP primary challenge. Dadey went to court to kick Hunter off the GOP line, leaving the Democratic incumbent, Mayor Stephanie Miner, without a Republican opponent. Hunter ended up receiving just over 15 percent of the vote on the Conservative line.

Because of the early, court-ordered June primaries in House races, candidates must beging passing petitions tomorrow to gather the 1,250 signatures needed for a spot on the primary ballot.

Maffei has been a top target for the Republicans and Conservatives ever since he was bounced from his seat in a tight race by Ann Marie Buerkle in 2010. Maffei defeated Buerkle in a re-match in 2012, and she briefly mulled running against him yet a third time, before opting out of the race last September. Buerkle was appointed by President Obama to a $155,00-a-year, five year term as a commissioner on the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in the spring of 2013.

No House Run For Antonacci Aganist Maffei

Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei is certainly lucking out.

First, there was former Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, the Republican who unseated him by a narrow margin in 2010, who decided to bow out of the race.

Today, it’s Onondaga County Comptroller Robert Antonacci who says that while the NY-24 is winnable for the Republicans next year, he won’t be their candidate.

Antonacci, in a statement released by Republican county Chairman Tom Dadey this afternoon, declared he won’t be a candidate, believing his skills lie best in being the county comptroller.

“At this time, I believe I can serve the people of Onondaga County far better as their Comptroller than I can as one of 435 separately-elected members of the House of Representatives,” he said. “I am honored to serve as the county’s top fiscal watchdog, and know there is plenty of important work here still left to do.”

In 2010, Antonacci was considered a long-shot candidate for attorney general on the Republican line, but ultimately stood down in favor of District Attorney Dan Donovan, the GOP nominee who would go on to lose to Democrat Eric Schneiderman.

Maffei won his seat back from Buerkle in 2012 by a far more comfortable margin. The race one of several battleground House races around upstate and suburban New York last year.

Buerkle was appointed after losing her seat to the Consumer Product Safety Commission by President Obama.