May 6th - 7:36 pm
One of the highest profile county Republican chairmen in New York State called on embattled State Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos to step down on Wednesday. At the same time he laughed off suggestions Skelos had “significant control” over his committee.
“Senator Skelos and I have never really had much of a relationship in my time as chairman,” said Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy.
The criminal complaint against Skelos details an alleged relationship of political and business favors between the Majority Leader, his son Adam and a company referred to as Developer-1. On page 17, while mentioning that Skelos was soliciting substantial campaign contributions from that same company, the Erie County Republican Committee is referenced as an example.
According to campaign disclosure reports the Erie County GOP received five separate contributions of $20,000 each in 2012 from Limited Liability Corporations with the same address as New York City real estate company Glenwood Management. Three days later the committee wired $78,000 to then-Senator Mark Grisanti’s campaign fund.
“At that time we were working together and I was of the belief that the Senate Republican Campaign Committee solicited some donations that would help that effort to elect Senator Grisanti and that was about the extent of what I knew at that time,” Langworthy said. “We accepted legal contributions. We disclosed them legally. We spent them legally. Other than showing my campaign disclosures there’s nothing more I really have to offer on that.”
The complaint references a lobbyist for “Developer-1” who exchanged emails about a phone call from Skelos to a Glenwood executive to send checks to the Erie County Republican Committee, “over which the Developer-1 lobbyist believed that Dean Skelos had significant control.”
“I felt that they should probably get a different lobbyist because they were sadly mistaken,” Langworthy said. “It’s not something that’s certainly been in the paper or widely reported but Senator Skelos and I have had rather strained relations.”
Disappointed by his increasing ties to Governor Cuomo, Langworthy’s committee dropped its support of Grisanti two years later. Wednesday Langworthy joined the growing movement in his party to oust Skelos as Majority Leader.
“There’s no way for this dark cloud to go away over the Senate, over the Republican Party and over Dean Skelos personally without a change in leadership in the New York State Senate,” said Langworthy.
Skelos’s lack of support among Western New York Republicans is nothing new. Former GOP Candidate for Governor Carl Paladino made the removal of Skelos the centerpiece of a short-lived gubernatorial bid in 2014.
“He’s so addicted to power that he refuses to give up his Senate leadership position even after he was arrested. It’s disgusting,” Paladino said.
In an email blast to supporters Paladino suggested New York State Senator Cathy Young and most of her “Republican colleagues from Long Island” are blocking a change in leadership.
“Are they afraid Skelos might roll over on them and chirp to the Feds about issues where they have been complicit in criminality? Or are they just good old boys and girls who have been in office too long and have forgotten the promises they made to their constituents to clean up the Albany cesspool?” Paladino asked.
“As the Senate is now adjourned for the day the members are going to come home to their districts. I’m sure they’re going to meet their constituents throughout the weekend and Monday’s going to bring a new day to Albany,” Langworthy added.
Apr 28th - 12:38 am
It’s a drastic step that has been successfully implemented in New York City and intermittently considered – but never fully embraced – in cities across upstate: Mayoral control of the public schools.
With nagging questions over the leadership of the Buffalo Public School District, and some suggesting full mayoral control is the answer, a Buffalo-area state senator has drafted compromise legislation that would give the mayor “input.”
“I think it’s an effort to try and quell the animosities that exist under the present school board configuration,” said Sen. Marc Panepinto.
Four superintendents in five years have tried to turn around the Buffalo Public School District. The most recent person to hold the position, interim Superintendent Donald Ogilvie, has lost the confidence of the board of education’s one-seat majority and leaves the post July 1st.
Infighting among board members over how a new superintendent should be chosen spurred Buffalo Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes to revive the idea of mayoral control. Panepinto said he was sympathetic to the idea put forward by his fellow Democrat, but feels a full takeover is a step too far.
“From the Assembly delegation that I talked to, from the Upstate Senators, Democratic and Republican that I spoke too, I didn’t really see that there was a stomach for total mayoral control,” he said.
Panepinto’s legislation would allow Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown to appoint two additional at-large board members to the nine-member school board. The terms would last five years and would need to be confirmed by the Buffalo Common Council.
“I think the City of Buffalo funds the schools to the tune of ten to 15 percent depending on what the state allocation is, so I think it’s appropriate that the mayor have some input on the school board,” the senator said.
For a majority member of the Buffalo Public School Board, however, this proposal gives away all control.
“The intent is for the liberal group, connected to the board minority, to stop the implementation of the majority’s agenda,” said Carl Paladino. “Marc Panepinto is an elitist who thinks government control is the answer to every aspect of life.”
Allowing the mayor to appoint two board members could certainly flip the one seat majority. Either way, Paladino believes it would create even more chaos.
“This effort to remove control from a duly elected board is sickening,” he said.
Panepinto’s proposal doesn’t go as far as the full mayoral control bill Peoples-Stokes’ office has said she’s still drafting – an effort that faces an uphill climb in Albany. Buffalo’s Common Council President isn’t ready to endorse either idea at this point.
“I’m interested in seeing both plans and seeing possibly is there even some working together to bring both plans into fruition in which one gives a little and the other may take away,” Darius Pridgen said.
But mayoral control may be an idea whose time has come, though the New York City measure sunsets in Albany in June, and the Senate Republicans don’t appear inclined to provide any assistance to Mayor Bill de Blasio, who would like to see it made permanent. De Blasio unsuccessfully tried to help the Senate Democrats re-take the majority in the 2014 elections, making an enemy of the GOP conference.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said he favors a three-year extension of New York City’s mayoral control law, while the Assembly Democrats pushed during the budget battle for seven years. The matter was pushed off into the post-budget session.
As for his proposal, Panepinto thinks it should get a three-year trial, and he says he feels he has already accomplished part of his goal even if the idea goes nowhere in the end.
“I wanted to put something forward to begin the dialogue,” the senator said.
Oct 16th - 5:17 pm
Thurman Thomas, a former Buffalo Bills running back who endorsed Carl Paladino for governor four years ago, is now on Team Cuomo.
Thomas endorsed the Democratic incumbent governor in an ad released on Thursday by his re-election campaign.
“From the Western New York team, I’m supporting Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has stood up for us from the moment he began serving,” Thomas says in the spot.
“After years of neglect, Western New York is headed for the goal line, with lowered taxes and new jobs, like those on the Medical Campus, at River Bend, and at the Dunkirk Power Station. Governor Cuomo has scored for Western New York. Be there for him November 4th.”
Thomas in 2010 cut an ad for Paladino, who at the time was batting back charges he was insensitive to minorities – especially after forwarding emails that portrayed racially tinged images of President Obama.
Paladino, Thomas said at the time, is “no racist.”
Cuomo, of course, has courted western New York – and particularly the Buffalo area – heavily over the last four years after losing the region to Paladino in 2010.
Cuomo also courted Thomas specifically, appointing the former football star to a tourism commission this past January.
While this ad does focus on the economy of Western New York, the Buffalo Bills focus is sure to get the attention of football-minded voters – especially after the team’s new owners announced they would be keeping the team in Buffalo.
It should be said that before Terry and Kim Pegula bought the team, the need to keep the Bills in Buffalo was one issue Cuomo and his GOP opponent, Rob Astorino, actually agreed on.
Both candidates said (several times) they were committed to keeping the Bills in the Queens City, regardless of who the new owners turned out to be. Only one of those candidates, however, received a large campaign donation ($25,000) from the Pegulas – Cuomo.
Aug 21st - 12:54 pm
Remember way back when, when Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino was making threats about a second run for governor this fall unless the Republican Party picked a candidate who measured up to his conservative standards and supported ousting Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb?
Well, Paladino has come around since then – with a brief foray into the imaginary land of “Trump for governor” – and is now 100 percent on the Astorino campaign train – so much so that he’s headlining a two-day “convoy” with the candidate from Buffalo to Albany next month. The event kicks off with a rally in Buffalo on Sept. 6 and ends with another rally outside the Capitol the next day.
Along the way, there will be stops in Rochester, Syracuse and (a little randomly) Guilderland. Supporters are being invited to join the convoy in their personal vehicles. (In his email announcing this event, Paladino provided a link where would-be participants can register their cars).
Paladino continues to be a bit of a lightning rod for the Republicans. For example, just because he’s on board with Astorino does not mean he has given up criticizing state GOP Chairman Ed Cox – long a top target of the mad-as-hell 2010 GOP/Conservative gubernatorial candidate – as well as Kolb, Skelos and other people Paladino considers too “RINO” (Republican in name only) for his taste.
When he ran for governor, Paladino came under fire for his far right positions on a host of issues – especially same-sex marriage and abortion rights. He nevertheless managed to defeat Cuomo in Western New York in the general election, which has caused the governor to lavish attention (and state cash) on the region since he took office, and also was the driving motivation behind his selection of former Rep. Kathy Hochul as his running mate.
The Cuomo campaign is trying to portray Astorino as too “extreme” in his views to represent a Democrat-dominated state like New York. Hanging out with Paladino – while likely a popular move with the GOP and conservative grassroots – no doubt gives the governor and his allies more fodder with which to attack Cuomo’s GOP opponent.
Jul 19th - 1:02 am
Several Western New York Republicans have come to the defense of retiring New York State Senator George Maziarz in recent days; former GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino is not one of them.
“I think George is probably a poster child for term limits,” Paladino said.
Maziarz has served in the Niagara County based 62nd state senate seat for two decades. It’s a tenure Paladino believes was too long.
“After a while they start to feel like a king, you know King George,” said Paladino.
It’s a characterization the Buffalo businessman has repeated over the years, and one that now appears to be gaining traction. At about the same time Maziarz announced his retirement, reports surfaced the U.S. Attorney’s Office was looking into his campaign spending.
What started as a Moreland Commission report that showed $140,000 in unspecified campaign expenditures continues to expand. The Albany Times Union reported Friday Federal investigators are now examining unitemized checks that were made out to cash, but never reported to the state board of elections.
The latest questions center on funds from the Maziarz campaign account that were reportedly given to a youth softball team and thousands of dollars in purchases from a WNY business. Maziarz Campaign Treasurer, Laureen Jacobs, has been asked to turn over documents but her attorney wouldn’t provide any further details.
And although charges have not been filed, Paladino isn’t giving Maziarz the benefit of the doubt.
“In my book, he was the guy that held Niagara County down,” Paladino said.
Paladino believes the investigation into Maziarz campaign spending is nothing compared to what he didn’t do. That criticism has to do with what Paladino describes as more than $1 Billion from the New York State Power Authority’s budget.
That money, according to Paladino, was generated through the sale of unused allocated power. Money that Paladino insists should have been spent on development in Western New York.
“George turned the other way as Cuomo was sweeping the account for the last four years. He never ensured that that money would stay here for Western New York’s benefit. That’s the kind of stuff that bothered me about George.”
It may take some time before Maziarz’s legacy is clear. While the jury is still out in the court of public opinion, Paladino made up his mind long ago.
“George is going to walk away with a million, one hundred thousand dollars in his campaign account and Western New York is no further ahead today than it was when George originally took office,” Paladino added.
May 6th - 6:27 am
Is Gov. Andrew Cuomo playing politics with the impending sale of the Buffalo Bills? Buffalo businessman and Cuomo’s former GOP challenger Carl Paladino suggested he is.
“Cuomo’s been fixing it,” Paladino said.
Paladino’s remarks followed multiple reports last week that New York City developer and chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority, Howard Milstein, was interested in buying the Bills. Milstein previously co-owned the New York Islanders from 1998 to 2000 and expressed interest in the Washington Redskins in 1999.
“Of course he’s interested. This is a game that’s being played by Andrew Cuomo to take care of his buddy Milstein,” said Paladino.
Milstein has ties to Western New York, controlling a large undeveloped area in the city of Niagara Falls, an area the New Stadium Working Group is considering as a new home for the team.
In the late 1990’s Milstein was given exclusive rights by the city to prime land downtown. Twelve years after he unveiled an aggressive plan for private casinos, condos, and retail the 150 acre plot remains vacant.
“There was talk about this, about Milstein buying the Bills and building a stadium in Niagara Falls on all this land that he’s illegally held onto for ten years because the idiot elected officials up there in Niagara County let him. They never took some action against him for not doing what he said he was going to do in developing this property,” Paladino said.
Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, the co-chair of the Stadium Working Group, said Friday he thinks Milstein is a good businessman.
“I certainly think he (Milstein) and the Jacobs family and all the names that have been mentioned so far are great names to hear because they’re people that will have connections to Western New York,” said Duffy.
Speaking of the Jacobs Family, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs expressed similar skepticism about Milstein. Jacobs’ uncle Jeremy Jacobs Jr. owns the Boston Bruins and Buffalo-based Delaware North and has said he’s not interested in selling the Bruins to buy the Bills.
“There’s been a lot of acquisition over a decade, I think by the Milstein group and not a lot of action so I think they would really have to demonstrate that they’re really going to do more than talk at this point in time. We need action,” Jacobs said.
Duffy didn’t mention Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump’s name specifically. Paladino has offered his assistance as an investor should Trump make a bid on the team.
Paladino isn’t alone. News broke Monday that Bills Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly’s attorney met with Trump. Kelly, who continues to recover from oral cancer, is friendly with the former USFL owner and even stayed at a Trump-owned apartment while undergoing cancer treatment in New York City.
Kelly has made no secret of his interest in being part of an ownership group. He’s been approached by a number of interested parties about the possibility of joining them in a bid for the Bills.
In addition to names like Trump, Milstein, and even Bon Jovi the Buffalo News reported over the weekend Rochester-Area Billionaire and former Buffalo Sabres Owner Tom Golisano had a private dinner with Bills President Russ Brandon.
This flurry of activity has been connected to new condensed timeline. The Associated Press reported on Saturday there is an anticipation that the Bills could be sold by July, and the sale approved by NFL owners as early as the league’s meetings in October.
Just to add more pressure to the situation U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer told reporters in Buffalo Monday he’d like a plan to either retrofit the current stadium in Orchard Park or build a new stadium in place by the time a new owner is announced.
“Perhaps the best way to get the Bills to stay here, in Western New York, for a generation, is to have some plan for a stadium, in place at the time the Bills are sold,” Schumer said.
Schumer said he spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Monday, and believes the commissioner is “on our side,” and wants the Bills to stay in the area.
No matter who ends up with the team the Cuomo administration is likely to play a key role. The Governor’s office announced last week it had retained a Manhattan based attorney to provide the state and stadium working group with legal counsel while working to convince any potential owner to keep the team in Buffalo.
It’s a move Paladino believes gives Milstein a clear advantage.
“The state’s paying for it, taking care of Howard. You’ve got to simply connect up the dots. It’s real easy. He’d be the worst owner we could ever have for the Buffalo Bills. He’s a greedy developer-type out of New York City. Is that the kind of guy you want?” Paladino asked.
Apr 25th - 12:05 am
Despite repeated statements to the contrary, speculation over the Jacobs family’s interest in owning at least a part of the Buffalo Bills continues. Thursday’s public statement did little to put the issue to rest.
“We are using our resources, our contacts, and our relationships to do everything we can to ensure the Bills stay in Buffalo,” said Jeremy Jacobs Jr., principal of Delaware North Companies.
The Jacobs are one of Buffalo’s wealthiest families and already own the NHL’s Boston Bruins. Hospitality Management Company Delaware North is based in Buffalo and runs the concessions at Ralph Wilson Stadium.
Thursday’s statement follows an interview on the subject with the Buffalo News and similar statements released by Delaware North earlier this month. To buy the Bills Jeremy Jacobs Sr. would have to relinquish majority control of the Bruins; something the company says he has no interest in doing.
“His focus is on ensuring the Boston Bruins continue to be a successful and winning franchise for the City of Boston and New England. He is a strong supporter of the Buffalo Bills as a storied franchise that has seen great success under Ralph Wilson. Mr. Jacobs would certainly be a strong supporter of any effort to keep the Bills in Western New York and is a big fan of the franchise and its leadership.”
It’s a position consistent with what Jacobs’s Nephew, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs, laid out in an interview with Time Warner Cable News last month.
“One thing is for sure, they are there as advisors to try to help in any way as the private sector, and the public sector, tries to think through the best way to position Buffalo to keep this team,” Jacobs said.
Perhaps the reason the Jacobs name keeps getting brought up is that there are few interested parties with the financial resources to purchase the team outright. Those who have expressed interest in making a bid: Donald Trump, Jim Kelly, and even Bon Jovi, would likely have to put together an ownership group.
Buffalo Businessman Carl Paladino confirmed last week he’s been approached about investing but doubted the sincerity of the unnamed group that approached him. The Multi-Millionaire said he’d be willing to invest in a bid for the Bills under the right circumstances.
“I don’t expect to be involved but I’m certainly willing to listen if someone serious reached out to me,” Paladino said.
Regardless of how many times the Jacobs name is brought up Paladino is taking them at their word. Whether or not he’s involved, the Buffalo Businessman seems confident the team will remain in Western New York.
“I think a group will come together and I think they’ll be encouraged by the powers that be to stay here. And I think they will,” said Paladino.
So until a person or group makes an offer, get used to hearing the Jacobs name as this process and the speculation continues.
“They are here, they’re Buffalonians, they could have moved their company; they never did. They’re coming up on their 100th anniversary of when my Grandfather started the company. So they’re committed to it, maybe not in ownership but they will be involved,” Chris Jacobs added.
Mar 19th - 2:38 am
You could certainly call Carl Paladino stubborn. The Buffalo Businessman wouldn’t take no for an answer after the Republican Party chose another candidate to run for governor in 2010.
Four years later, Paladino still isn’t taking no for an answer.
“I’ve found a better candidate than myself; Donald Trump,” Paladino said.
Despite Trump bowing out of the race for governor Friday night, Paladino isn’t giving up on his candidacy. Using the title of a memo written by State Assemblyman Bill Nojay this summer, Paladino is reviving the effort to “Draft Trump.”
Paladino told Neil Cavuto on the FOX Business Network Tuesday Night that he pitched the idea to Trump himself during a phone conversation Monday.
“And he was pretty quiet about it. I said you know what I’m going to do? I’m going to tell everybody that I’m not running for governor. But I am going to go out there and lead those groups in a ‘Draft Trump’ exercise, and that’s what I’m announcing today,” said Paladino.
Trump said Friday, that he was ending his flirtation with seeking the GOP nomination to challenge Governor Cuomo because the New York State Republican Party wouldn’t unite behind him.
“That’s why he doesn’t want to be going through the nonsense of dealing with these RINOs in the Republican Party,” Paladino said.
While some Trump backers have been reluctantly pledging their support for Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Paladino has refused. He’s no longer threatening a run on a fourth line against Astorino, but Paladino isn’t ready to endorse him either.
“Rob Astorino is a good man, but the guy just can’t raise money and he doesn’t have a killer instinct,” Paladino said.
Paladino believes he can still convince Trump, a clear path to the GOP nomination can be achieved. After months of bad blood between Trump supporters and the State Republican Party Leadership even Paladino knows it’s a tough sell.
“If the deck is cleared, I can be 99 percent sure that ‘Draft Trump’ will work,” Paladino said. “We brought 70 percent of the county chairs by weighted vote to his office a few weeks ago so the beginning of that is there. Clearing the deck isn’t a big deal.”
Paladino is promoting the new “Draft Trump” on social media though Facebook. Trump Spokesperson Michael Cohen said Tuesday Night that while Mr. Trump appreciates Paladino’s efforts it’s not likley the real estate mogul will change his mind.
Mar 15th - 3:59 am
It was an unmistakable condition of his candidacy: no primary. While Donald Trump’s flirtation with a run for Governor came to an end Friday his call for a united Republican Party did not.
“He wanted the nomination without a primary. I think many party leaders around the state are in the same boat. They don’t want to see a primary,” said Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy.
The effort to convince Trump to run for Governor began in Western New York last summer. Langworthy himself held several meetings with the real estate mogul encouraging him to see the process through all the way to the State Republican Party Convention in May.
“I think he was confusing to some extent the way we nominate in New York for somewhat of a presidential primary system. They’re very, very different. New Yorkhas very arcane ways to nominate our candidates and as he got more educated in that process he gave serious, serious consideration in the last two weeks and going to the convention,” Langworthy said.
When Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino officially entered the race it seemed to have little impact on Trump’s candidacy. But after Astorino’s week long tour of the state Langworthy believes Trump concluded a “clear path” was impossible.
“I think he came to a realization that this would not be an uncontested nomination fight. He thought a primary was inevitable and right from the beginning he said, ‘I don’t want a primary,” said Langworthy.
Still some Trump supporters are pointing the finger at State GOP Chairman Ed Cox. One of the State Assemblyman who helped hatch the “Draft Trump” movement believes his exit makes Cox a marked man.
“It’s disappointing that the Republican Party is so inept in New York State. We will support Rob Astorino. This is Mr. Cox’s play, this is what he wanted, and if Astorino doesn’t win for some reason, Mr. Cox will have to answer to that,” said East Aurora Republican David DiPietro.
Langworthy admits the initial skepticism from the “senior party leadership” about Trump’s sincerity may have turned the real estate mogul off. But he believes Cox had come around to the idea of a Trump candidacy and was encouraging him to go to the convention.
“Ultimately the decision was going to lie with Donald Trump whether or not he was going to run for Governor. He’s a super successful businessman, someone that’s achieved a lot of his goals in life. If he wanted to move forward with this, I think we showed him a way where he could’ve achieved it,” Langworthy said.
With Trump seemingly out of the way, there’s just one unresolved issue. Former Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino’s threat to run for Governor on a fourth party line could derail any plans for party unity.
“Really as Republicans, we’re down 3-million votes in New York State. We haven’t won since 2002 statewide. If we’re going to fight amongst ourselves we’re not going to have an opportunity to win the election,” said Langworthy.
Ironically it was a primary challenge Langworthy helped author in 2010 that made Paladino a statewide figure, and Langworhty a rising star in the party. Now, it appears, Langworthy will have the unenviable task of asking Paladino to stand down, and get behind the party prefered candidate.
“I would hope Carl could find a way to unite behind the Republican nominee and help us win the election. He’s a dear friend of mine. I know that he desperately wants to see a change in leadership in this state and he definitely wants to see Andrew Cuomo replaced as Governor,” Langworthy added.
Mar 5th - 1:34 am
Besides a possible challenge from Donald Trump, Westerchester County Executive Rob Astorino could still be facing a challenge from former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, but not on the conservative line. While reacting to the likelihood Astorino will indeed announce he’s running for governor, Paladino acknowledged he may need a new line on the ballot if he decides to challenge Astorino.
“Mike Long appears to be supporting Astorino right now so it would have to be a new party line that I would form. I don’t know why Mike Long took the position he did I can’t answer that. But I certainly respect him,” Paladino said.
Paladino is not backing off of his promise to challenge Astorino if he doesn’t call for the removal of Republican State Senator Dean Skelos and Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb.
“If he (Astorino) comes out and denounces these people and purges them from the party I will campaign for him. How can you run for governor of the state of New York if your supposed supporters are in bed with your opponent? It doesn’t make any sense. Donald Trump would bury them,” said Paladino.
The Buffalo Businessman continues to believe Trump is the man for the job. While many continue to believe “Trump for Governor” is a pipe dream Paladino isn’t wavering.
“I respect Rob Astroino and expect him to do the right thing if he gets the opportunity. I don’t think the opportunity is going to be there because I think Donald Trump is going to announce that he is going to run for that office,” Paladino added.