State Senate

SD-60: NYSUT PAC Steps Up Spending

From the Morning Memo:

The independent expenditure committee backed by the New York State United Teachers union is increasing its efforts in the 60th Senate district, bolstering Democrat Amber Small in what is considering a linchpin for Republicans keeping control of the chamber.

Filings at the state Board of Elections show NYSUT’s Fund For Great Public Schools super PAC has invested in both mailers and TV ad production over the last week to knock Republican Chris Jacobs and boost Small’s chances in the battleground district.

The IE reported spending that includes $143,685 for a TV spot in the district opposing Jacobs’s candidacy. An additional $37,152 is being spent on anti-Jacobs mail from the committee, while $12,173 has been spent for mail promoting Small.

The super PAC’s spending comes as the state Republican Committee has complained to the Board of Elections over the PAC’s spending, alleging an illegal degree of coordination between the labor union and the independent expenditure committee — a claim that’s denied by NYSUT.

The spending also comes as the bulk of the attention for control of the Senate has been placed on Long Island races, specifically in Nassau County where Democrats hope to flip several GOP-held seats.

The 60th Senate district, however, is one of two Democratic-held seats Republicans hope to play offense through Election Day (Republicans are also pushing to unseat Democratic Sen. George Latimer in Westchester County with Republican Julie Killian).

Democratic Sen. Marc Panepinto is stepping down at the end of the year.

Marcellino Calls For Mangano, Venditto To Resign

Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino in a statement Thursday called on both Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay Supervisor John Venditto to resign as they mount a defense to charges of bribery and contract rigging.

In the statement, Marcellino said he is “disappointed and outraged” by the allegations made against his fellow Republicans.

“These are serious charges,” he said. “I do not believe these officials can effectively lead the county or town and represent the people in the manner they deserve with this cloud over their heads. The best course of action for all parties involved is for them to step down from their posts, dedicate themselves to their defense and allow government to move forward with the public good being the sole focus.”

Marcellino is facing a stiff challenge for re-election to his Long Island Senate seat from Democrat Jim Gaughran, who has made the problems facing Oyster Bay an issue in his campaign. Gaughran and other Democratic Senate candidates earlier in the day also called on both Mangano and Venditto to step down.

Senate Dem Candidates Pounce On Corruption Arrests (Updated)

Senate Democrats are pressing their advantage after Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano and Oyster Bay town supervisor John Venditto were arrested by federal law enforcement on bribery and kickback charges.

Democrats had already sought to run competitive races in Nassau County Senate districts, including an open seat being vacated by incumbent GOP lawmaker Jack Martins as well as seats held by Carl Marcellino and Kemp Hannon.

Four of the Democrats running in Long Island races — Jim Gaughran, Ryan Cronin, Adam Haber and John Brooks — released statements blasting the corruption scandal and alleged kickback scheme that has also engulfed Mangano’s wife.

At the same time, Venditto is the father of Republican Sen. Michael Venditto, though he occupies what is considered a safe seat in the chamber and has not been charged in the case.

Gaughran, in particular, has sought to make the financial issues surrounding Oyster Bay a major theme of his campaign against Marcellino.

“This is a sad day, and an urgent reminder that we need to address public corruption and pass meaningful ethics reforms. All elected officials should be judged on what they have done to fight corruption, and my opponent, Carl Marcellino, has consistently enabled and supported Ed Mangano and John Venditto,” Gaughran said.

“Senator Marcellino’s longtime support of these two corrupt officials – both of whom should resign immediately – means he can’t be relied upon to bring the reform and change we so desperately need. As State Senator, I will fight to clean up Albany and root out corrupt officials on the state, county and local level.”

Long Island occupies some political importance for Republicans, given the power they held with the original “Long Island 9” bloc of GOP lawmakers, which was upended when Democratic Sen. Todd Kaminsky won the special election to fill the seat formerly held by Dean Skelos, the majority leader ousted after a corruption charge he is appealing.

“These politicians have spent years empowering Ed Mangano and John Venditto and protecting them as they abused their offices to line their pockets,” said Senate Democratic spokesman Mike Murphy.

“Let’s be clear, the Nassau Republican Machine has done enormous damage to the residents, businesses and taxpayers of Long Island, and they are all to blame for the continued corruption festering on the Island. From supporting Dean Skelos to propping up Ed Mangano and John Venditto, every elected officials within the Nassau Republican establishment shares in the blame for the corruption and dysfunction which have plagued our communities for decades. These corruption enablers standing up now is not only laughable but offensive. It’s is easy to feign outrage after the fact but let’s be clear they are part of this Nassau Republican Criminal Enterprise.”

Updated: Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif responds.

“Senator Martins, Senator Hannon and Senator Marcellino and the Republican candidates who are running there have already called on the County Executive and Town Supervisor to resign. We have absolutely no tolerance for corruption of any kind, regardless of whether it is committed by a Democrat or Republican.

It’s important to note that the Senate Democrats were the subject of a very serious criminal referral and remain under investigation for an illegal scheme they hatched with Mayor de Blasio to circumvent the state’s campaign finance limits and steal the elections in 2014.”

SD-5: Gaughran Releases Ethics Plan

From the Morning Memo:

Jim Gaughran, the Democratic opponent of Republican Sen. Carl Marcellino on Thursday is set to release an ethics reform package aimed at campaign finance reform and recalling elected officials whose actions impact taxpayers.

“Long Island voters are tired of the corruption and scandals that have rocked state government and yet Senator Marcellino has ignored his constituents and has actually benefitted from the corrupt state quo in Albany,” Gaughran said.

“Our communities deserve new leadership and a State Senator who will work to clean up corruption, not be part of the problem. Carl Marcellino has proven that he will not fix our broken political system or take any real steps to reform state government, and Long Island families deserve better from our State Senator.”

The measures include new restrictions on the personal use of campaign funds and would bar the use of campaign cash for a criminal defense.

Officials whose handling of a municipality’s finances cause its bond rating to drop would be subject to a recall — a provision that’s aimed at the problems that have arisen in the town of Oyster Bay on Long Island.

And Gaughran wants to close the loophole in election law that allows unlimited donations through limited liability companies.

The Long Island Senate seat is one of a handful of races Democrats hope to wage a competitive contest in as they seek to flip control of the chamber in next months’ general election.

Wal-Mart Heir Gives $500K To Education Reform Super PAC

One of the heirs to retail giant Wal-Mart on Thursday gave $500,000 to New Yorkers For A Balanced Albany, a group that is tied to the education reform group StudentsFirstNY.

A filing with the state Board of Elections on shows Jim Walton made the contribution to the group that has funded efforts aimed at backing candidates sympathetic to issues such as charter school support.

The contribution comes as education policy is once again expected to dominate the legislative session in 2017.

Meanwhile, two more donations were made to the independent expenditure committee supported by the Real Estate Board of New York.

Filings show Varego Holdings contributed $125,000 while Silverstein Properties gave $110,000.

Senate Dems Fete Siena Numbers (Updated)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump’s struggles in New York could spell gains for Democrats running in competitive state Senate races.

At least that’s their hope after a Siena College poll released Wednesday showed Hillary Clinton widening her lead over Trump in New York to 24 percentage points.

The hope for mainline conference Democrats is Trump’s potentially poor showing in New York could make down-ballot races more favorable to them, especially in key swing districts on Long Island and in the Hudson Valley.

“The latest Siena Poll shows just how big a drag Donald Trump will be on the Senate Republicans. Down by 24 points overall, losing independents by nearly 20 points, and down almost double digits in both the suburbs and upstate, this poll shows that New York voters are rejecting his dangerous campaign,” said Senate Democratic campaign spokesman Mike Murphy.

“Even as GOP leaders throughout the nation reject Trump’s disturbing and offensive campaign, the Senate Republicans have continued to stand firmly and passionately behind him. Democrats are poised to have a historic victory because voters want real leadership that will stand up for all New Yorkers and pass strong ethics reforms, lower taxes, and fairly fund our schools.”

Updated from Senate GOP spokesman Scott Reif:

“The closer we get to Election Day, the more delusional the New York City Democrats actually become. We are going to win the majority because we have the right candidates and the right message, and whether it’s providing record support for schools, delivering a 20 percent middle-class income tax cut, or ensuring every region of the state gets its fair share of infrastructure and economic development funding, New Yorkers know that Senate Republicans have their backs.”

Hospital Association PAC Expands Senate Footprint

From the Morning Memo:

New Yorkers For Quality Health Care, an independent expenditure committee backed by the Greater New York Hospital Association, has expanded its campaign efforts in the state Senate.

Filings with the state Board of Elections show the PAC is spending $273,000 in two potentially pivotal battleground races: Senate district 40 and the 39th Senate district, both in the Hudson Valley.

The money, which includes spending for mail and digital advertising, aimed at bolstering Republican Sens. Bill Larkin and Terrence Murphy.

Previously, the hospital PAC had committed $115,199 in independent expenditure spending to aid the re-election effort of Republican Senate Health Committee Chairman Kemp Hannon on Long Island.

SD-39: Anti-Larkin Super PAC Pulled By Viamedia

A super PAC ad targeting Republican Sen. Bill Larkin over his vote for the legislative pay commission has been yanked by cable advertising providing Viamedia, Inc.

The ad, released by the independent expenditure committee Fund For Great Public Schools, was pulled on Monday by Cablevision in the Hudson Valley Senate district after lawyers for Senate Republicans complained about the ad’s claims.

Specifically, the ad claims Larkin supports a 47 percent increase in the base pay of lawmakers. The vote Larkin took was to create the pay commission, which is determining whether to approve a legislative pay increase. A decision on the pay increase is not expected until after Election Day.

Larkin faces Democratic Senate candidate Chris Eachus next month.

Biz Council PAC Endorses Senate GOP

The Business Council’s political action committee on Tuesday endorsed more than a dozen incumbent Senate Republicans for re-election as well as three GOP challengers.

The endorsements, coupled with nods for two Democrats and 10 Assembly Republicans, come after the GOP conference unanimously approved an increase in the state’s minimum wage that was included in this year’s budget.

The Business Council had opposed the wage hike, which would increase the base pay in New York to $15 in the New York City region and $12.50 in upstate New York over the next several years.

Senate Republicans were deeply torn on the issue, but ultimately approved the measure (the political calculation hinged on having all Republicans vote for the bill out of solidarity, making attacks on the measure’s approval for an individual lawmaker all the harder).

Supporters of the Senate GOP’s narrow majority have considered the Republicans a check on a state government that is otherwise dominated by Democratic elected officials.

“The individuals receiving our PAC’s endorsement today have demonstrated a strong commitment to improving the business climate of New York State,” said Heather C. Briccetti, Esq., president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “While we will never agree on every issue, each of the endorsed candidates recognizes the challenges facing our state and is prepared to face those challenges with legislative solutions that will improve the lives of all New Yorkers. We look forward to working with each of the endorsed candidates next year as we push a pro-business, pro-growth agenda and get New York back to business.”

The PAC’s endorsements include the majority leader, John Flanagan, and his deputy, Sen. John DeFrancisco.

Among the non-incumbent Republicans backed by the PAC are Pam Helming, who is running for Sen. Michael Nozzolio’s seat, Julie Killian in Westchester County and Jim Tedisco, who is running for the Capital Region district being vacated by Hugh Farley.

Airbnb’s First Target: Sue Serino

From the Morning Memo:

The political action committee backed by the online rental company Airbnb on Tuesday is releasing its first TV ad targeting Republican Sen. Sue Serino.

The ad is part of a $180,000 outlay in the district from Airbnb’s Stronger Neighborhoods PAC, taking Serino to task for voting in favor a bill that is aimed at cracking down on the online advertising of multi-family dwellings for rent.

The measure was seen as being squarely aimed at Airbnb, the popular online portal for short-term rentals, while lawmakers in favor of the bill insist it is meant to bolster and preserve affordable housing in New York City. Violators could be fined up to $7,500 and the bill is yet to be approved by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

“Two years ago, Sue Serino claimed she wanted to help middle class families,” the ad’s narrator says. “Then she went to Albany and joined New York City special interests to restrict the rights of taxpaying homeowners. In a back-room deal, Serino voted for huge fines on homeowners who want to rent their homes to make ends meet.”

The company this election season has signaled it plans to push back hard after the measure was approved by state lawmakers, investing $10 million into its independent expenditure committee after initially forming the super PAC in June with $1 million.

The ad released Tuesday is expected to be the first salvo in a series of commercials that will mostly focus on state Senate races.

Serino is running for a second term for her Hudson Valley Senate seat against the Democrat she defeated in 2014, Terry Gipson.