Bishop Raises $358K+, Has $755K+ On Hand

Rep. Tim Bishop had what his aides called a “record-breaking” second fundraising quarter, raking in $358,939 to bring his on-hand tally to $755,697.

The Democratic Long Island congressman’s spokesman said Bishop is now in “the strongest financial position he has ever been in at this point in the political cycle,” putting him “on very strong political footing to continue to hold his seat.”

“Congressman Bishop will be able to go toe-to-toe with anyone the Republicans nominate, especially an outsourcing millionaire who has already been rejected by Suffolk County voters,” Bishop spokesman Jon Schneider said.

“Tim Bishop will have the resources to talk about protecting Medicare while outsourcing millionaire Randy Altschuler is too frightened to let voters know how plan to end Medicare as we know it.”

Bishop more than doubled his receipts from the $138,000 he raised in the corresponding quarter in the last cycle, according to Schneider. Additionally, he raised $34,360 in unitemized contributions, tripling the $11,000 in unitemized contributions from the second quarter in 2009.

As I reported earlier today, Altschuler, who came within several hundred votes of ousting Bishop last fall, just over $257,000 in the latest quarter and has $265,337 on hand to fuel his second attempt to defeat the congressman.

Altschuler, who still “owes” himself $500,000 for his close – but ultimately unsuccessful – 2010 race against Bishop, took in all of that cash within the month of June.

Unlike in 2010, the Conservative and GOP leaders in Suffolk County appear united in their support of Altschuler this time around, but he still might face a primary challenge from another Republican contender who missed the mark last fall, George Demos.

Diaz Attacks GOP Supporters Of SSM

Bronx Senator Ruben Diaz is accusing the four Republican Senators who voted in favor of same-sex marriage of trading their votes for max contributions from NYC Mayor Bloomberg. In a press release he just sent out, he writes:

It appears that State Senators Stephen Saland, Mark Grisanti, James Alesi and Roy McDonald sold their votes to the Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg for $10,300 each.

At least this is the impression and feeling everyone is getting by reading the city newspapers that two weeks after their vote, Mayor Bloomberg, who previously declared his intentions to support and help finance any senator who would vote in favor of gay marriage and complied with his edict, sent a check to each one of them for the maximum amount allowed by law.

If this is not a quid pro quo, please tell me what this is?

Now, to be fair, Mayor Bloomberg has providing campaign funding support for the Senate Republican conference in the past, and the conference has not always delivered on his agenda. So it is a little bit of a stretch to call it quid pro quo.

Diaz goes on to suggest that Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman aren’t living up to their pledge to clean up Albany in this case, because they are doing nothing to investigate this donation.

You can read his entire release after the jump.
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Altschuler Raises $257K, Gets Help From Cantor

Businessman Randy Altschuler raised just over $257,000 in the latest quarter and has $265,337 on hand for his second bid to oust Democratic Rep. Tim Bishop in NY-1.

Altschuler, who still “owes” himself $500,000 for his close – but ultimately unsuccessful – 2010 race against Bishop, took in all of that cash within the month of June.

Additionally, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor will be in Long Island later this month (on July 24, which, ironically, is the same day same-sex marriage becomes legal in NY), to help Altschuler raise more money. Rep. Peter King will be on hand for that luncheon, too.

Altschuler came within a few hundred votes of beating Bishop last year. He was slowed by a hard-fought, three-way GOP primary that also included George Demos and Christopher Nixon Cox (son of state GOP Chairman Ed Cox).

Demos has expressed interest in running again next year, too. But Cox, who recently wed Andrea Catsimatidis, daughter of supermarket mogul John Catsimatidis, has not mentioned another congressional run.

It appears, however, that Conservative and GOP leaders are lining up behind Altschuler – even Suffolk County GOP Chairman John Jay LaValle, who split with him very publicly and backed Christopher Cox last fall.

Some believed LaValle’s change of heart had something to do with Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy’s party switch and short-lived gubernatorial run, but he and Ed Cox denied that.

Bishop has also been focused on raising campaign cash. He sent out an appeal last month casting himself as the un-Anthony Weiner. His latest FEC filing is not yet on-line.

Altschuler Cantor July 24 2011 Luncheon

Skelos: ‘No Decision’ On Senate Return

The Senate does not appear likely to return to Albany any time soon – at least not as long as the PEF contract remains up in the air.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told Susan Arbetter on the Capitol Pressroom he sees no reason to bring his members back to Albany, even though his house failed to pass the health care exchange bill approved by the Assembly.

Advocates maintain that without an agreement in place this summer, New York will miss federal deadlines to qualify for up to $100 million to set up the exchange. But Sen. Kemp Hannon, the Senate’s point man on this issue, said last month that the Senate actually has until Sept. 30 to make a decision.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous told me in a separate CapTon interview that will air tonight the Senate is unlikely to return to Albany until the fall. (Unless, of course, the governor calls for an extraordinary session sometime before then).

Skelos said the 2011 legislative session is “basically over with,” adding: “I’m sure at some point we will be back to do some clean-up work but when that’s going to be, there’s been no decision.”

“The CSEA contract, we certified that,” the majority leader said. “Now, of course, it’s subject to approval by the membership.”

“The PEF contract has not been agreed upon. So, at some point, if there is an agreement, we would have to come back and pass legislation approving it. But again, those negotiations are going on, and there’s no reason to speculate when we would go back when there’s no contract.”

As for speculation at the end of the session – right around the height of the same-sex marriage fracas – that his leadership post was in danger and perhaps even challenged outright, Skelos had this to say:

“There an awful lot of tabloid journalism out there. Sometimes when things are functioning well, some members of the press, whether it’s TV, radio or print, they like to stir up controversy.”

“Our conference is working well together. You can see from a governmental point of view, things were done and they were done on time…we have record fundraising for our campaign committee, individual members, and that’s people responding positively to what they saw in Albany: Functioning government.”

Siena: NYers Split On Hydrofracking, Approve Of 2011 Session

New Yorkers were heartened by the results of the unusually productive 2011 legislative session, with 48 percent saying state government appears to have become less dysfunctional.

Half of voters – including a majority of Democrats, independents and voters from New York City, and a plurality of voters from upstate and the downstate suburbs – said the session moves the state forward in the right direction.

Favorability ratings for the Assembly and Senate, while still in the negative, rose significantly in the last month. And Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s rating remains sky-high – 71-21, up slightly from 68-21 percent last month.

Cuomo’s job performance rating also rose slightly to 58-40, up from 55-41.

Only among conservative voters does Cuomo’s favorability drop below 60 percent, and even they like him: 59-35. Similarly, conservatives are the only group with a majority giving Cuomo a negative job performance rating.

That likely has something to do with the governor’s successful push to legalize same-sex marriage in New York. But overall, 46 percent of voters said the change moves the state in the right direction.

New Yorkers are less sure about a controversial issue looming for Cuomo: Whether hydrofracking should be allowed in the Marcellus Shale.

Statewide, 45 percent of voters favor DEC’s recommendation that the fracking ban be lifted, while 43 percent oppose it.

By a 54-33 percent margin, voters statewide said they’re more inclined to trust hydrofracking opponents rather than supporters. That view is held by 53 percent in NYC, 54 percent in the downstate suburbs and 55 percent upstate.

New Yorkers generally don’t like the speculation about Cuomo moving on to bigger and better things.

At least 80 percent of voters from every party and region saying all this White House talk is premature and Cuomo should focus on his responsibilities as governor.

More bad news in this poll for President Obama. His favorability has slipped to its lowest level since last December, 57-39, down slightly from 59-38 percent last month,

SNY0711 Crosstabs

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo holds the first of three ceremonial signings of the driving-while-texting ban law outside Buffalo (Orchard Park, 11 a.m.)

There will be two others near Watertown (Dexter, 12:45 p.m.) and Poughkeepsie (Salt Point, 2:30 p.m.)

Mayor Bloomberg and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver open the first section of the two-mile East River Waterfront Esplanade near South Street Seaport at noon. (Lower Manhattan is Silver’s district).

In a wide-ranging interview with the NY Times, Cuomo again touts his 2011 legislative successes, but says they’re due to factors that aren’t “necessarily replicable.”

The governor admits he’s already at odds with the Legislature over redistricting and says his top priority for next year will be pension reform.

Former top legislative aides and secretaries to past governors say Cuomo has a lot to be proud of during his first six months, but his budget could pose a problem going forward.

Meanwhile in Washington, there’s still no debt deal, and President Obama abruptly walked out of talks.

Tough choices lie ahead for the Obama administration if the president and congressional leaders can’t reach an agreement by the debt ceiling deadline of Aug. 2.

As promised, Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have undermined his property tax cap.

The Post and DN are thrilled by that decision.

It was the first significant veto of Cuomo’s short tenure.

The first gay couple to legally wed in New York will do so next to Niagara Falls in the wee hours of July 24. The local mayor will officiate.

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Slaughter, King Call For News Corp. Investigation

The phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed British media and politics could be imported over the Atlantic as both U.S. Reps. Peter King and Louise Slaughter call for investigations in whether Rupert Murdoch’s journalists tried to access voice mails of Sept. 11 victims.

“These latest allegations demand a swift and immediate inquiry by the appropriate agencies into whether any US laws were broken. All available options should be pursued- including investigations by the Department of Justice and Congressional hearings,” Slaughter, a Democrat, said in a statement. “Thousands of New York families suffered profound personal loss on September 11th 2001. On behalf of the victims and their families, the latest allegations must be investigated with the full force of the law.”

The scandal has already resulted in the shuttering of the Murdoch-owned tabloid News of the World and prevented the company’s British subsidiary News International from purchasing a larger share of BSkyB. Journalists working for that paper, along with The Times of London and Sun have been accused of hacking into voice mails of murder victims, soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan and into the phones of celebrities, politicians and members of the royal family.

Earlier in the day, Politico reported King, a Long Island Republican who is also chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, called for an investigation as well.

Bloomberg And Marriage Advocates Give Generously To Grisanti

Sometimes it’s good to be on the same side of an issue as one of the world’s richest men.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg cut a $10,300 check for Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, re-election effort, according to his campaign-finance report released today.

The check posted July 8, more than 10 days after Grisanti cast the 33rd vote in favor of same-sex marriage.

But Bloomberg, a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage, wasn’t the only supporter of the measure to give to Grisanti in the last few weeks.

The contributions didn’t stop with Bloomberg. Grisanti’s donors list is a who’s who of gay rights and LGBT advocates.

Among the pro-gay-marriage contributors was Frank Selvaggi, the chairman of the Empire State Pride Agenda and billionaire publishing heir Robert Ziff who both gave the legal maximum, $10,300.

Developer Donald Capocci, a supporter of President Obama and Real Estate Board of New York member donated $5,000.

Carol Master, a Massachusetts resident who has supported gay rights campaigns around the country, gave him $1,941.70

Jon Kislak, a Florida-based LGBT rights leader, gave $5,000.

And Esmond Harmsworth, a Boston-based literary agent who has supported gay rights initiatives and gay-friendly politicians for years, also involved in the Rhode Island gay marriage fight, gave $4,775.

All told, Grisanti raised $153,969 in the last six months and has $103,954 in the bank. The lawmaker narrowly defeated incumbent Democrat Antoine Thompson last year, giving the Republicans the majority after a single two-year term in the minority.

He still owes himself $14,270 after loaning the 2010 campaign $17,600, the filing shows.

It’s worth noting the checks from these folks, Kislak being the first, starting pouring in after June 27. The same-sex marriage vote was June 24.

And it’s important to note that the legal maximums donated by Bloomberg and the rest can’t be used in a potential primary challenge. Anti-gay marriage groups have pledged to primary the four Republicans who voted for the same-sex marriage bill.

At the same time, given his narrow margin of victory in a Democratic district, Grisanti is sure to be a top target of Democrats in 2012 as well.

It will also be interesting to see the filings of the other three GOP yes votes — Sens. Steve Saland, Jim Alesi and Roy McDonald and whether they’ll be raking in the cash early based on their votes.

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Extras

Rep. Pete King wants FBI to investigate whether Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation hacked into the voicemail accounts of Sept. 11 victims, calling the allegations of the scandal “disgraceful.”

“If these allegations are proven true, the conduct would merit felony charges for attempting to violate various Federal statutes,” the Long Island congressman said.

Disgraced former Posties dish the dirt on Murdoch’s NY tabloid.

As the hacking scandal grows, Murdoch abandoned his $12 billion bid to take over the shares he doesn’t already own in BSkyB.

Cuomo sent thank-you notes to legislators for their “magnificent” work this session, including Long Island GOP Sen. Carl Marcellino.

Former Rep. John Hall won’t try to re-take his old seat from Rep. Nan Hayworth in NY-19.

…That doesn’t mean he’s pleased with Hayworth’s performance in Congress, however.

NYC Campaign Finance Board Tweet: “Anthony D. Weiner (Mayor) reports $0 in contributions, $14,050 in contribution refunds for 6 month period ending 7/11/11.”

Former Sen. Vincent Leibell has started his 21-month prison sentence.

The Website for Sen. Liz Krueger’s “No Bad Apples” PAC is live.

House Speaker John Boehner on negotiating with the Obama White House: “Dealing with them the last couple months has been like dealing with Jell-o. Some days it’s firmer than others. Sometimes it’s like they’ve left it out over night.”

Assemblyman/NY-9 candidate David Weprin insists he’s one of the few Democrats who has been “very strongly criticizing” the president’s position on Israel.

“Senator Pothole’s pothole has been fixed.” Now that’s influence.

Goodbye, government sedan.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who rejected any new taxes in the 2011-2012 budget, signed a host of bills extending or allow the increase of county sales taxes.

A small group of Republican US senators plans to oppose all spending bills until a budget deal is reached.

Here’s Sen. Krueger talking about how a “bad apple” – former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. – inspired her to launch her new PAC to support reform-minded candidates.

After Veto, Cuomo Signs Bills

After breaking out his veto pen for the first time for the school-pension borrowing measure, Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed 14 bills into law, mostly local sales tax continuance measures.

The measures do not contain tax hikes, but are run-of-the-mill extensions of existing taxes. Cuomo did successfully oppose extending the surcharge for those making $250,000 or more and opposed keeping it in place for those making $1 million or more.

To be fair, these sales-tax extension measures are different, namely because they provide home-rule messages for local governments to keep the taxes in place.

None of the taxes will help raise additional revenue in order to offset the tax cap that will take effect next year, said Association of Counties spokesman Mark LaVigne.

Writing about the bills, the folks at Daily Politics say it’s unusual for Cuomo to announce the signings of minor measures, a departure from past practices.

The bills he signed are after the jump. More >