Carl Paladino

GOP Chair Seeks Pataki-esque Gubernatorial Candidate

From the Morning Memo:

State GOP Chairman Ed Cox is putting a priority on competence over charisma when it comes to selecting a candidate to take on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo this fall.

When I suggested during a CapTon interview earlier this week that the Republicans need to fine someone outside the box to run – someone like a brash, rich, former real estate developer-turned-reality TV star who beat the odds and made it to the White House – Cox replied:

“You really want me to have a disaster as a candidate, don’t you? I want to have someone who everyone will say: this guy can be governor…somebody who knows how government works. I don’t want splash. I want substance. I want a substantive governor, who, along with a majority in the state Senate, who can take this state in the direction it needs to go.”

Recall that Cox wasn’t exactly a full throated Donald Trump supporter back in the day, and definitely wasn’t part of the push led by Western New York GOP elected officials to get Trump to run for governor.

And Cox saw his party get burned by made-as-hell Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, who won an upset GOP primary victory to land the line against then-AG Cuomo in 2010. Paladino lost big in the general election, though he performed well in his home region of WNY, which led Cuomo to lavish attention on the area – particularly Buffalo – for years to come.

When I suggested Cuomo is going to spend big money trying to tie his Republican opponent to the unpopular president, Cox retorted: “It’s not going to work. It’s going to be about him. People will understand.”

The chairman suggested Cuomo is going to be “haunted by the ghost of Christie past,” invoking the former Republican governor of New Jersey who was implicated – but never charged – in the infamous Bridgegate scandal. Christie’s aides took the fall for that mess, and he paid a political price, seeing his presidential aspirations go down the tubes.

Cuomo will have a similar experience once the Buffalo Billion corruption trials – particularly that of his longtime former aide, Joe Percoco – get underway, Cox predicted.

Cox is continuing to insist that the GOP has time to coalesce around a candidate, even though the governor is sitting on a massive campaign was chest – we’ll find out exactly how big of a haul he has managed to amass later this month.

And, the chairman – as many underdog Republicans have before him – likes to remind everyone that a little-known state senator named Pataki came out of nowhere back in 1994 and defeated the liberal lion, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, in a major upset victory.

Just like that race was a referendum on Cuomo-the-elder – an ABC, or “anybody but Cuomo” situation that developed when the then-incumbent decided to seek a fourth term – Cox insists that this fall will be more about the current occupant of the executive mansion that whoever the GOP selects to challenge him.

“When you’ve been governor for two terms, when your party has been in the governorship for three terms, it’s a question of your record, it’s a referendum of you,” the chairman said.

“What we need to put up is someone like George Pataki. Who people have to look and say: Yeah he could be governor, now let’s look at what the governor has done. Hey! We need to replace this guy. He’s not doing a good job for the people of this state.”

After losing the GOP’s top contender, Harry Wilson, Cox specifically mentioned Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who went on not 24 hours later to announce he’s no longer considering a run; Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFrancisco; and – with a little prodding – Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.

He didn’t name former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, a Democrat-turned-Republican who is trying to sell party leaders on this moderate brand of politics, and formally announced his campaign yesterday.

Paladino Still Considering Run for Governor But No Decision Imminent

From the Morning Memo:

As New York Republicans try to figure out who exactly will represent them in challenging Governor Andrew Cuomo this year, one notable name has seemingly fallen on the back-burner. The party’s 2010 candidate Carl Paladino said he is actually still considering a campaign but no decision is imminent.

Paladino’s statement comes as two of the front-runners for the nomination both withdrew their name from consideration this week. First it was Westchester County businessman Harry Wilson, who said he preferred to commit his time to his family rather than a bid and perhaps a busy first year in office.

Thursday, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro bowed out of the race. He said it was not the right time to seek the governorship.

Paladino said he understood both the decisions blaming the state party leadership – a regular target of his since 2010 when they initially endorsed Rick Lazio instead of him.

“The Republican state party is in shambles,” he said. “They have no financial or other resource ability. the Albany swamp Republican legislators and many county chairs are all RINOs (Republicans in Name Only) in Cuomo’s pocket. That’s what Wilson and Molinaro finally figured out. Without support, it would be an effort in futility.”

So far, two GOP candidates have officially announced their campaigns: Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and former Erie County Executive Joel Giambra, who despite his reputation as a moderate, said he and Paladino are long-time friends.

The state party leaders are meeting in Albany next week to start sorting out the statewide ticket.

Paladino’s BOE Replacement Sworn In

Outspoken businessman Carl Paladino has officially been replaced on the Buffalo Board of Education by new Park District representative Catherine Flanagan-Priore, a pediatric psychologist at Women and Children’s Hospital of Buffalo, who was sworn in last night.

This summer, as you’ll recall, the state Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia removed Paladino from his seat for violating executive session rules, even though voters had twice elected the former Republican gubernatorial candidate to the school board despite his many controversial public statements.

Flanagan-Priore, who was chosen by the board to succeed Paladino after three days of interviews with 15 potential candidates, said she is aware she will need to represent constituents who may have wanted Paladino to retain his post.

“I want to hear from the people who voted for him as much as the people who didn’t vote for him to make sure I’m representing the needs of the district well,” she said.

Meanwhile, a majority of the board members who brought the complaint about Paladino to the state Education Department after tangling repeatedly with him for several years, seemed ready to move on.

Paladino’s racially charged comments, in particular, sparked plenty of media attention and protests around board meetings – though Elia has repeatedly insisted that had nothing to do with her decision to remove him.

“I’m certainly looking forward to some meetings where the board can get away from distractions that have taken us off the tasks that we really need to do that will push forward the education achievement of the children in this district,” Board President Dr. Barbara Seals Nevergold said.

Of course, it’s not necessarily over. Paladino is appealing the NYSED decision to state Supreme Court, though his effort to block the board from appointing his replacement while his case works its way through the legal system was denied.

Paladino Says State Supreme Court Judge Should Not Have Ruled On his Case

The Buffalo Public School Board will officially swear in its replacement Wednesday for Carl Paladino, who was kicked off the board by the State Education Commissioner in August. After interviewing more than a dozen candidates, board members on Monday, unanimously approved Catherine Flanagan-Priore, a local children’s psychologist.

Paladino had hoped to keep the seat vacant while he appeals the commissioner’s decision to state Supreme Court. Those hopes were dashed late-Monday afternoon when Judge Catherine Nugent-Panepinto decided not to grant a stay of the decision.

Paladino said he was unlucky to draw Nugent-Panenpinto, a former board member, who he accused of being liberal, political, and “best buddies” with Hope Jay, an opponent of his, currently on the board. He said the judge had recused herself in past matters involving the board of education.

“She should have conflicted herself out of the case, but instead she called her liberal and undistinguished husband (former state Senator) Marc (Panepinto) to meet her to discuss how to handle the case,” Paladino said.

He said after the proceeding, Marc Panepinto, a partner at powerful Western New York law firm Dolce Panepinto, went up to his attorney and said “I guess your client lost the lottery today.” Paladino is being represented by a team from Lippes Matthias Wexler Freedman, including former state Attorney General Dennis Vacco.

We’ve reached out to both Marc Panepinto and Catherine Nugent-Panepinto’s office for a response.

Elia: Charlottesville Had No Impact On Paladino Decision

The unrest in Charlottesville spurred by white supremacist groups this month did not have an impact on the decision to remove Carl Paladino from the Buffalo school board, Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia said Monday in a radio interview.

“It did not have anything to do with the decision on Mr. Paladino. We had our hearing almost a full month before that — six days of hearings with people coming in as witnesses,” Elia said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom. “The decision was based on the record.”

Paladino was removed from the board on Aug. 17, days after violence erupted in Charlottesville amid protests over the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee.

A push to remove Paladino, the 2010 Republican nominee for governor, began last year after he penned a racist essay for a Buffalo-area newsweekly. Paladino has over the years forwarded and sent racist and racially charged emails.

But the school board pursued his removal based on the sharing of information from a closed-door executive session of the board, arguing it helped undermine the district during its negotiations with the teachers union for a new contract.

Paladino is appealing the school board’s decision and Elia said the State Education Department will fight that appeal.

Meet The Man Who Wants To Replace Carl Paladino

From the Morning Memo:

The Buffalo Public School Board of Education has until September 16 to replace member Carl Paladino who the State Education Commissioner kicked out of office last week. BPS posted its Park district seat on Friday.

The deadline for applications is September 1. While the district hasn’t said how many people have applied so far, at least one candidate is vying for the job.

Kevin Lafferty, a member of the District Parent Coordinating Council, said he applied right away.

“It’s something that I’ve always wanted to do and when this opportunity came up, I jumped on it right away,” he said.

Lafferty ran unsuccessfully for the seat more than a decade ago. He said he’s always felt compelled to public service but now has a personal inspiration to be on the board, as well. The South Buffalo parent’s 3-year-old daughter is in the system.

“When I ran in 2004, I said that I was doing it so when I had children, the district would be good and now that I have a child in it I feel like it’s a responsibility to run for it again now that she’s in the district,” Lafferty said.

Of course, this time he doesn’t have to convince voters he’s the best candidate for the job. He has to convince other board members.

“It’s a campaign but it’s not a campaign. I mean you’ve got to sway the board, so I would ask if there are people out there, to contact the board,” he said. “It’s very important that this board fill this seat as quickly as possible.”

Lafferty said while he would like to be a consensus builder, he doesn’t plan on being a rubber stamp for the so-called six member board majority bloc.

“I kind of want to be the majority of one, myself, and serve the majority, the actual majority which are the students of the city of Buffalo,” he said.

He does acknowledge in replacing the twice-elected Paladino, the district finds itself in an unusual situation. Lafferty was involved with the DPCC filing a separate petition which called for Paladino and the rest of the board’s removal after the member made racially charged comments about the former president and First Lady.

He believes the commissioner’s decision is good for students.

“The Paladino thing lifts a big weight,” he said. “It’s been a huge distraction. I’ve said from the beginning, I thought Carl should’ve resigned back in December and just let us move on but, you know, he continued and he was well within his rights to do that.”

Lafferty said regardless of what Park District voters think about their former board member, he wasn’t always able to represent the area to the fullest because other members didn’t like him. He said he can bring a new constructive voice with whom people are willing to work.

Paladino, meanwhile, has indicated he plans to file an appeal with state Supreme Court which could potentially halt the replacement process.

Paladino Removed From Buffalo School Board

Carl Paladino has been removed from his post on the Buffalo Board of Education, an attorney hired by the board confirmed this morning.

The 33-page decision determine Paladino had wrongly released information that was discussion in a closed-door executive session with board members.

Paladino had vigorously denied any wrongdoing during a hearing earlier this summer in Albany.

“It confirms that no one is above the law regardless of their station in life,” said the school board’s attorney, Frank Miller. “Mr. Paladino indicated he was going to continue to do whatever he wanted to do. Everyone is subject to the law, regardless of their station in life.”

School board members and others who had sought Paladino’s removal from the board initially sought his removal after Paladino made a series of racially charged and racist comments in a local newsweekly and in blast emails.

Paladino has already filed a lawsuit challenging the board’s actions against him.

The 2010 Republican nominee for governor, Paladino has not ruled out running again in 2018. Paladino served as the co-chairman to President Trump’s campaign in New York.

Updated: Here’s the full decision from the state Education Department.

Paladino Still ‘Strongly Considering’ Run For Governor

From the Memo:

In a new political era where Donald Trump can be elected President of the United States, maybe Carl Paladino could avenge his 2010 gubernatorial loss to Andrew Cuomo. The outspoken businessman, who’s one of the president’s chief Upstate supporters, said he’s strongly considering running for governor again.

“I think maybe times have changed with Trump and I think it opened up a new thinking on the part of many people as to what kind of government that they want serving them,” he said. “I think he’s proven in his days in office that the kind of change that he is bringing to Washington is something that we need in Albany.”

Paladino said he’s currently busy with other projects and doesn’t feel any sense of urgency to make a decision right now. Still, there’s no love lost for the governor who he criticizes whenever he gets a chance.

“Cuomo is a failure in every possible respect,” he said. “Government is getting bigger and bigger. Our Medicaid is out of this world. It’s twice that per person of any other state in the nation. Our atmosphere for business development is nonexistent.”

Cuomo wasn’t the only one in Paladino’s crosshairs during an interview Wednesday. He doesn’t seem to think much of the potential Republican candidates for governor who have emerged so far.

After toying with the idea of his own gubernatorial campaign in 2014, then trying to draft Trump to run, Paladino ultimately got behind the endorsed GOP candidate Rob Astorino. He even went on the campaign trail with him, but Paladino said Astorino should’ve talked more about the SAFE Act, taxes, and jobs, and didn’t connect with Upstaters.

“I think Astorino clearly illustrated in the last election that he’s just clueless when it comes to the issues that are important to the people of the state of New York,” he said. “He got off on Common Core. Most people couldn’t tell you the first thing about Common Core. They don’t know what it is but he ran all over Upstate New York trying to relate to people and nobody could listen to it because they didn’t understand it.”

As for veteran state Senator John DeFrancisco, who confirmed during a CapTon interview he’s exploring the possibility of challenging Cuomo, Paladino said he’s still upset DeFrancisco wasn’t elected Majority Leader in 2015. He holds the Syracuse-area Republican responsible for not getting his house in order.

“I think he showed his lack of mettle when it came to fighting with Flanagan for the leadership position in the Senate. He should’ve gone all out. He should never have let those six upstate senators depart the fold and that’s very unfortunate for Upstate New York,” Paladino said. “His chance to lead is gone.”

Paladino also knows former State Comptroller candidate Harry Wilson pretty well. They were on the same ticket in 2010 when Wilson chose not to endorse his fellow Republican.

Paladino doesn’t appear to hold any ill will but doesn’t think much of Wilson’s chances to become governor either.

“Harry Wilson’s a great guy and he’d probably make a great administrator but he just doesn’t have that killer instinct,” he said. “He doesn’t have that fire in the belly thing. He can talk it. He knows the problems and he’s a very bright guy but I don’t think he could get his message out there.”

The kindest words were reserved for Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro but Paladino said he’d have to see more of what he was about before he would consider supporting him.

“He’s young, a dreamer at this point. He’s solid, solid on issues, nice guy, and if he had that fire and brimstone in him I think he could make a good candidate. I think he could attract a lot of younger voters and be a new face. The party needs a new face,” he said.

The former honorary co-chair of Trump’s New York campaign said regardless of who the candidate is, he would expect the president to get involved in 2018. He believed his recent comments about Upstate New York in the Wall Street journal suggest he’s already looking toward the issues facing his home state.

In Testimony, Paladino Defiant In Removal Case

For nearly six hours on Tuesday, Carl Paladino told his life story, his approach toward public office and his time on the Buffalo School Board. He now faces removal from the board for allegedly disclosing confidential information.

“I think we proved our case overwhelmingly that Carl Paladino violated his oath of office,” said Frank Miller, the attorney hired by the Buffalo School Board for the removal hearing. “The best proof of that was his own testimony.”

In that testimony, Paladino defended his writings in a newsweekly discussing the board’s 2016 contract talks with the teacher’s union in Buffalo. Board members argue Paladino revealed confidential information from an executive session. Paladino’s team disagrees.

“Our affirmative defense is include among other things that the executive sessions were entered into illegally,” said Dennis Vacco, Paladino’s attorney. “So if they are not entered into lawfully, they don’t get whatever protection comes with confidentiality.”

Paladino under questioning from his attorney also said he regretted writing a racist essay mocking Barack and Michelle Obama.

“I was thinking about Obama and his wife,” Paladino said. “My thinking got carried away… I sincerely regret my words.”

Paladino’s legal team argues the board is actually trying to remove him for the Obama commentary, not the disclosures.

“They want to remove him over that,” Vacco said. “He is facing removal over that. That is the whole part of our pre-text case. You’ve heard me say over several times during the course of the case that the unlawful disclosures was an extreme after thought.”

Throughout the day, Paladino’s manichean view of the world was on display, presenting himself as a rescuer of a troubled public system, standing up to sinister “schemers” like the teachers union president and incompetent naifs.

The hearing began last week, but Tuesday was the only day to draw about more than two dozen protesters outside of the state Education buildnig in Albany. Paladino himself was tight lipped after the hours of questioning.

“You’ll have to ask my boss if he’ll let me speak,” he told reporters, nudging Vacco.

Regardless of how State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia rules, School Board President Barbara Nevergold questioned whether Paladino can remain an effective member.

“In his testimony, he doesn’t feel he’s bound by policies related to executive session and I suspect other policies related to controlling the board’s behavior and controlling the board’s actions,” Nevergold said.

Closing arguments in the hearing are expected Wednesday, but a determination from Elia is not expected for several weeks.

Paladino To Testify In Removal Hearing

On Tuesday, it’s Carl Paladino’s turn.

The controversial businessman faces removal from the Buffalo School Board and, on day four the hearing, Paladino will defend himself.

“I’m always excited,” Paladino said when asked about his planned appearance.

Paladino, the 2010 Republican candidate for governor and a prominent New York supporter of President Donald Trump, faces removal for allegedly revealing confidential information discussed in a school board executive session. Day three of the removal hearing in Albany featured three hours of testimony from Buffalo School Superintendent Kriner Cash, who testified some of the information Paladino disclosed was inaccurate.

“Dr. Cash is nice enough guy, but he did a terrible job on the stand today,” said Paladino attorney Dennis Vacco. “He was evasive. He couldn’t remember, he couldn’t recall specifics of his communications with (Buffalo Federation of Teachers President) Phil Rumore.”

Vacco on Monday was frustrated as he has been for most of the hearing as school board members and othe witnesses declined to discuss the details of the executive session in question — saying it’s an attempt to hamstring Paladino’s effort to mount a defense.

“When we try to drill down on what was said, what’s confidential, what’s not confidential, he throws up roadblocks,” Vacco said.

It’s not clear what Paladino will discuss when he speaks at his removal hearing, but he will likely try to shine a light on the discussions surrounding the school board’s budget and contract talks last year, including the spending of money from a fund balance.

“We’re not going to allow them play the rope a dope game tomorrow with Carl on the stand,” Vacco said. “We’re going to hear exactly about that $10 million and what it meant to those negotiations.”

Paladino is not facing removal for racist commentary in an essay published last year by Art Voice, a newsweekly in Buffalo. Instead, his defense team has sought to claim Paladino was initially being removed for the comments, constitutionally protected by the first amendment. Frank Miller, the attorney hired by the school board in the removal case, did not address the media.