Flanagan Rips Cuomo’s RHA Support

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan in a statement Thursday blasted Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s push for the passage of the Reproductive Health Act, charging that is being brought about by the “singular fear” of Cynthia Nixon’s primary challenge.

The bill has been a flashpoint for Cuomo in the wake of the retirement of Justice Anthony Kennedy from the U.S. Supreme Court and the pending confirmation of Judge Brett Kavanaugh, a development that could tip the balance for abortion cases at the high court.

Cuomo has vowed New York would serve as a bulwark if the landmark Roe v. Wade decision is overturned.

“Governor Cuomo’s singular fear is Cynthia Nixon tarnishing his newfound progressive narrative,” Flanagan said in a statement.

“He knows, as the Daily News pointed out in a recent editorial, that Roe is the law of the land in New York. Roe is federal law, no case is currently before the Supreme Court or even anticipated to be decided in the near future. Further, New York’s Attorney General offered a legal opinion in 2016 that Roe stands in this state.”

The RHA would shift language for abortions from the state’s penal code to the public health law, change abortion’s status as an exception to homicide and allow abortions in the third trimester of a pregnancy under certain circumstances.

Cuomo has released ad aimed at individual Republicans in the state Senate who represent potential battleground districts for Democrats, urging them to return to Albany and take up a vote on the bill.

Cuomo’s top aides scoffed at the statement, pointing to a Quinnipiac University poll this morning that found 73 percent of New York back the Roe v. Wade decision.

“What or who are you afraid of?” tweeted Melissa DeRosa, Cuomo’s top aide. “Enough with the obfuscation — PUT THE BILL ON THE FLOOR”

Updated: Flanagan’s comments were criticized by reproductive rights groups.

“Senator John Flanagan chooses to stand with right-wing extremists and ideologues rather than with New York women,” said Robin Chapelle Golston, the president of Planned Parenthood Empire State Acts.

“His comments that women do not need to fear losing their constitutional right to abortion while the president has vowed to overturn Roe v. Wade defy logic. Senator Flanagan tells us to be complacent while the Trump administration is conducting a full-scale assault on our access to health care from destroying Title X, the nation’s oldest family planning program to packing the Court system with anti-choice zealots.”

Molinaro Supportive Of Pilot Program For Hydrofracking

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro on Wednesday said he would be supportive of a “limited, closely monitored” pilot program for hydrofracking in the state’s Southern Tier region.

“I think that the state needs to identify, map and protect water sources,” he said at a news conference in Albany outside the state Capitol. “We don’t do that statewide. I do believe that a closely monitored, DEC-watched, pilot in the Southern Tier is appropriate as suggested before the ban went into place.”

The controversial natural gas extraction process was banned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration in 2015 after he won re-election to a second term. Cuomo had been criticized by environmental organizations and the energy industry alike for what had been a long-standing environmental review of hydrofracking.

Since then, Cuomo has been pushed to do more by environmental groups when it comes to blocking natural gas pipelines that are proposed to run through the state.

Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive, has been supportive of moratoriums on fracking as a state lawmaker, but said Wednesday that was meant to give local governments time to review the process and have a modicum of control.

“I think the process should produce an outcome, not have the governor say what the outcome is and make sure the process supports it,” he said.

Molinaro’s Campaign Gets A Boost From Killian

The gubernatorial campaign of Republican Marc Molinaro was loaned $45,000 by his running mate, former Rye Councilwoman Julie Killian, a filing made public on Tuesday shows.

Killian, who also served as deputy mayor of Rye, joined the ticket in May.

Molinaro’s campaign, which formally began earlier this year, has $887,238 in cash on hand and raised $913,975 in contributions during the current reporting period.

The Republican State Committee also transferred in $179,500, the filing shows.

WNY Republicans Pounce On Buffalo Billion Convictions

From the Morning Memo:

Western New York Republican Assemblyman Ray Walter is calling on the governor to answer “serious questions” about what his role has been with the state’s economic development projects.

After all four defendants in the Buffalo Billion bid-rigging trial were convicted on all counts, Walter said it’s obvious to him that lucrative projects have been up for sale to the highest bidder. He believes Gov. Andrew Cuomo must answer for that, even though the governor was not and has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

“Top aides to our governor have been convicted and justice has been delivered,” Walter said. “The corruption has been blatant and the economic development policies have been wrought with failure and fraud. The Cuomo administration has betrayed the trust of New York’s hard-working taxpayers.”

Walter has been a consistent critic of Cuomo’s economic policies, despite the fact much of them have been targeted toward helping his area of the state. His testy back-and-forths with Empire State Development CEO Howard Zemsky during the annual budget hearings have become commonplace.

“As the ranking member of the Economic Development Committee, I have been at the forefront of calling this administration out on its failed and fraudulent economic development policies and I won’t stop now,” Walter said.

Meanwhile, Erie County Republican Committee Chairman Nick Langworthy said the $750 million RiverBend complex, the signature Buffalo Billion project, will “now forever be a monument to corruption.”

House GOP-Aligned Super PAC Raises $51M

The Congressional Leadership Fund, a super PAC aligned with the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives, will report having raised $51 million in the second quarter of 2018 and now has $71 million in cash on hand.

The fundraising by the PAC will likely help shore up battleground House races around the country, several of which are playing out in New York this year, where some incumbent Republicans are being out raised by their Democratic challengers.

A good chunk of the money, about $30 million, was given by Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

“Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Paul Ryan and Leader Kevin McCarthy in Congress, CLF continues to break fundraising records, raising more this quarter than CLF raised during the entire 2016 cycle. Our donors are united in making sure Nancy Pelosi does not become Speaker of the House,” said Corry Bliss, the committee’s executive director.

“CLF’s early and aggressive fundraising has already proven to change the political landscape this midterm election cycle – we’ve reserved more than $60 million in fall advertising, opened field offices across the country, and knocked on over 15 million doors to date. CLF is committed to playing a major role protecting the Republican majority this fall.”

New York, Republicans are defending competitive House seats in the Hudson Valley, central New York and North Country regions.

Stefanik Says It Was Time For Pruitt To Go

From the Morning Memo:

Rep. Elise Stefanik in a statement Thursday said the resignation of Environmental Protection Agency Administration Scott Pruitt was the correct move given the myriad ethical allegations leveled against him.

“It is time for new leadership at the EPA,” said Stefanik, who represents the state’s North Country region.

“There have been too many ethical lapses under Administrator Pruitt’s watch and this decision is in the best interests of the agency and our country. I look forward to working with our next EPA Administrator to protect the environmental interests of our district, which is the proud home of the Adirondacks.”

Stefanik had called for Pruitt to step down in April, making her one of the first Republican lawmakers to do so.

Pruitt submitted his resignation on Thursday afternoon to President Trump after a string of allegations dating back to his tenure as the attorney general in Oklahoma as well as covering his work as EPA administrator, including gifts received from industries his office was regulating and as well as lavish spending.

Environmental and conservation organizations also cheered the news.

“Pruitt racked up a long list of scandalous actions that were not becoming of a public official,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William Janeway.

“We are troubled by the legacy of demoralization he has created at the agency. We call on the next administrator to faithfully carry out the mandates of the Clean Air Act and work toward an effective plan to curb climate change.”

Molinaro To Take Part In Moment Of Silence

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molniaro’s campaign will participate in today’s planned moment of silence for the staffers at the Maryland newspaper who were killed when a gunman opened fire in their newsroom last week.

“The Molinaro campaign team will join in sympathy with journalists worldwide in observing today’s 2:33 EST moment of silence for the five Capital reporters murdered last week in Annapolis, MD,” Molinaro said in a statement. “Every American benefits from the work of the Fourth Estate; democracy cannot work without a free, vibrant, and fearless press. We honor the sacrifice of those abruptly taken, and deeply mourn their loss.”

Newsrooms across the country on Thursday will recognize the moment of silence at 2:33 p.m. today, a week after the shooting.

NY-19: Faso Asks, Delgado Answers

The battle over the future of ICE has come to NY-19.

Republican Rep. John Faso’s campaign manager Tom Szymanski posted a statement earlier this week on Faso’s Facebook page asking if the congressman’s Democratic challenger, Antonio Delgado, supports the call by his fellow Democrats for the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency to be abolished.

Several high profile New York Democrats have already jumped on board calling for the agency’s end, most recently, Queens Democrat Sen. Mike Gianaris.

The Republicans, led by President Donald Trump, have leapt to ICE’s defense, with some predicting that this issue will help the GOP preserve its control of Congress in the upcoming midterm elections.

“The service that U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement provides in keeping our communities safe is invaluable, and it is disturbing to hear elected Democrats and Democratic candidates for office calling to abolish ICE,” Szymanski wrote.

Szymanski singled out a number of prominent Democrats, including NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon, and recently victorious NY-14 candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, as well as “other fellow-Progressives on the loony left by wishing to abolish ICE,” adding: “Voters deserve to know whether Mr. Delgado will work to abolish the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.”

This morning, Delgado responded with a statement of his own, and suggested that in the future, Faso contact him directly and not resort to using an intermediary to handle his inquiries.

“Congressman Faso should feel free to contact me directly with his inquiries about my positions,” Delgado said. “I would be happy to exchange cell phone numbers so that he does not need his staffer to send out statements written by (House Speaker) Paul Ryan. I am eager to discuss our country’s immigration policies and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) with the Congressman.”

He added: “Spoiler alert: I do not support abolishing ICE.”

Delgado also took the opportunity to criticize Faso’s voting record on healthcare, and noted his relationship with Ryan, who is not seeking re-election this fall.

Faso has received fundraising assistance from the Congressional Leadership Fund. Protecting the freshman congressman in the battle for NY-19, which has changed political hands several times in recent election cycles, is of particular interest to Republicans as they try to maintain their majority.

Ryan has also appeared at past fundraisers in support of Faso, who is seeking a second term.

Ticket Consumer Protections Signed Into Law

Ticket consumers scored a win on Sunday after Governor Cuomo signed legislation into law that safeguards ticket purchasers against price gauging and misrepresentation of ticket resale.

The Governor’s okay of S8501B re-ups market protections for purchasers of entertainment and sporting event tickets that would have expired on June 30th.

The law adds a protective layer to a section of the state’s arts and cultural affairs law, thus strengthening seller to purchaser transparency.

Bill sponsor State Senator Terrance Murphy said, “Any hardworking New Yorker who purchases a ticket to the world class entertainment and sporting events in our state should never fear being ripped off. This law provides consumers with the confidence and peace of mind that when they are purchasing tickets to see a Broadway show, a ballgame, or a musical performance, they will not be scammed. I thank Governor Cuomo for signing my legislation into law to protect the integrity of this industry.”

Retailers will be required to clearly display seller licenses on sites, list original ticket purchase price separate from any surcharge or added service fee and conspicuously detail refund policies.

Penalties and even the loss of a seller’s license for sites using bot technology—or purchasing software designed to buy up large amounts of tickets for the purpose of resale—will now be in place.

Fleischer Boosts Basile

From the Morning Memo:

Former White House press secretary Ari Fleischer has endorsed his former Bush administration colleague Tom Basile in Basile’s quest to replace retiring Republican Sen. Bill Larkin this fall.

Fleischer said the seat Basile seeks could serve as “the firewall between taxpayers struggling to live in New York and the state’s liberal Democrats who want complete control of state government.”

In a combination endorsement/fundraising appeal email, Fleischer called Basile, who served as a senior press advisor to the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq and also worked in the press office for the EPA, “a friend who is uniquely qualified and a tireless public servant.”

“Tom’s resume is an impressive one,” Fleischer continued. “Beyond his service in the Bush Administration in several roles, including as an advisor to the Coalition government in Iraq, he’s an elected official, bestselling author, small business owner, a former Sirius XM Radio host, and believe it or not, he’s still had time to be a husband and father of three wonderful young children.”

“When Tom served in the Administration, he worked hard to make all of us proud. He’ll do it again as a state Senator in the Hudson Valley.”

A Westchester County native, Fleischer left the White House in 2003. His name has come up from time to time as a potential candidate for elected office in New York, though so far he has declined to run for anything, preferring instead to limit his political efforts to assisting fellow Republicans.

Basile was not-so-quietly preparing for a campaign in the event that Larkin decided not to seek another term after nearly three decades representing the 39th state Senate District. The senator has endorsed Basile, who is also supported by the Orange County Republican Party and the state GOP, for which he used to work.

However, Orange County Legislator Mike Anagnostakis has announced a bid for Larkin’s seat, which means Basile might have to weather a primary before focusing on the November general election.

The Democrats have put up Assemblyman James Skoufis as their candidate for Larkin’s seat, and are also training their sites on Basile, assuming he’s the stronger GOP candidate, casting him as a “Hudson Valley Steve Bannon” due to his ties to conservative donor Rebekah Mercer.