McDonald Gets Bloomberg Cash, and Senate GOP Money Too

Republican Saratoga Sen. Roy McDonald raised $166,120, with the bulk of that money coming in June, according to his campaign finance filing.

McDonald, part of the GOP foursome who voted yes for the same-sex marriage bill, also scored a $1,050 check from the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, which cleared last week.

NYPIRG says only $46,000 or so of McDonald’s cash came between January and May. We’d give more details, but the Board of Elections website (shockingly!) appears to be down. We’ll update when more details are available.

Update: It’s back up. Getting results!

McDonald received the maximum from Bloomberg, $10,300.

As noted earlier, McDonlad raised a lot of cash in June. The individual donations report shows a bunch of checks dated June 29. The same-sex marriage law passed the Senate on June 24.

Almost immediately after announcing he was a yes vote McDonald began a fundraising effort tied to the effort. He began a facebook page called “Stand with Roy” that included a donations link.

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Alesi Raises Well, Gets Bloomberg Cash (Updated)

Sen. Jim Alesi, the first Republican lawmaker to announce he would vote yes for a same-sex marriage bill, is reporting $149,595 in total receipts today, but he didn’t receive any money from New York City’s billionaire mayor, Michael Bloomberg.

Alesi, of Perinton, Monroe County, spent $45,488 and has $115,799 in the bank.

Like fellow yes vote Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo, Alesi benefitted from gay-rights advocates Robert Ziff – who donated $6,500 – and Tim Gill, who cut a maximum $10,300.

UPDATE: A Bloomberg aide says the mayor did in fact max out to Alesi – $10,300 – but didn’t manage to get the check to the senator prior to the deadline for this report (midnight on Monday, July 11th).

Bloomberg gave that amount to five of the seven senators who took a risk and voted “yes” on same-sex marriage. That includes all four Republicans – Sens. Alesi, Roy McDonald, Steve Saland, and Mark Grisanti – and one of the three Democrats who switched their votes from “no” in 2009 to “yes” this year: Sen. Joe Addabbo.

The other two Democrats, Sens. Shirley Huntley and Carl Kruger, have legal troubles (an AG investigation for her, federal corruption charges for him), and didn’t get any monetary love from the mayor, the filings show.

Alesi, like Griasnti, is seen as a vulnerable incumbent in 2012. He resides in an increasingly Democratic district and narrowly won re-election in 2010 against a well-funded Democratic opponent.

Then there’s the issue of his aborted lawsuit filed at the last minute against a couple whose property he trespassed on and subsequently injured himself. The suit and its withdrawal did not ingratiate him with the local Republican establishment and everyday voters.

But Alesi has basked in the spotlight of his yes vote, appearing in New York City gay-rights events and alongside Gov. Andrew Cuomo when he signed the bill into law (he was the only GOP lawmaker to appear with Cuomo and openly gay lawmakers during the bill signing).

And who can forget the Alesi-Lady Gaga Youtube mashup?

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Early Signs Point To Major Cuomo Haul

Happy campaign finance day!

More than 1,000 campaign reports have been filed already with the state Board of Elections and though his filing is yet to go live, early indications point to a big haul by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Numbers guru Bill Mahoney at NYPIRG (who will be the most popular man in Albany today) emails to say 41 political action committees have reported donations of total of $483,800 to Cuomo. The vast majority, Mahoney says, came from business PACs.

Meanwhile, Empire Dental has donated $60,800 to Cuomo, a maximum sum that can be used in a potential primary in 2014. A reader notes the money would have to be split between a primary and general election. If the governor doesn’t have a primary, then some of the cash would have to be returned.

Cuomo’s campaign committee has been re-named to add “2014″ — the next year he’s up for re-election.

Possibly the best comparison in all this is former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who by this point had raised nearly $3.7 million by his July 2007 filing. Spitzer reported $464,500 in PAC contributions, and during this time he was limited by his pledge to “unilaterally” disarm and not receive checks over $10,000.

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Westchester County and NYC with no public schedule.

At 10:05 a.m., EFC President and CEO Matthew Driscoll is taping an interview with WRVO. (Listen here).

Judges across the state volunteered to work Sunday, July 24 so same-sex couples don’t have to wait yet another day to get married.

African immigrant hotel maids and their supporters plan to rally tonight outside the $50,000-a-month apartment where Dominique Strauss-Kahn is staying.

City Hall News’ weekly winners and losers list.

Bloomberg is giving out $24 million in grants to fellow mayors around the nation to help them combat problems in their cities – from gun violence to environmental issues.

NYC’s poverty rate remains as high as it was five years ago in spite of Bloomberg’s efforts to reduce it.

California’s AG met with AG Eric Schneiderman to discuss joining a wide-ranging probe into Wall Street’s role in the mortgage meltdown.

Cuomo took his campaign against texting-while-driving on the road to the Buffalo area and Dutchess County.

Sen. Marty Golden on the secret to Cuomo’s success: “He’s changed. He’s closer to the vest. He’s more organized. He’s got a well- organized working machine and has talented people who are close to him.”

More >

Extras

Rupert Murdoch said News Corp. has handled the hacking scandal “extremely well in every way possible,” making just “minor mistakes.”

The Murdochs changed their minds about appearing before Parliament.

The FBI has opened a preliminary review into allegations that News Corp. employees sought to hack into the phones of victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, U.S. officials said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, taking a hard line approach on the collection of sales tax on Indian-sold cigarettes.

The state pension fund’s estimated value is $146.5 billion – the highest since the global economic downturn in fiscal year 2008-2009, according to Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

Mayor Bloomberg maxed out to five of the seven key Senate “yes” voters on same-sex marriage. The two who didn’t get his love – Sens. Shirley Huntley and Carl Kruger – have legal troubles.

The mayor will not intervene in the labor dispute threatening the future of the NYC Opera.

Rudy Giuliani says he still feels “tremendous fire” for more public service.

The difference between 2008 and 2012 – if Giuliani decides to run? “I’d try to win.”

Trump 2012 speculation is not dead yet.

State Conservative Party Chairman Mike Long was “really taken aback” by Cuomo’s characterization of himself as “sort of the Antichrist to the Conservative Party.”

No third wave of PEF layoff notices today. Commence tea leaf reading.

Levi Aron pleaded not guilty in a Brooklyn court today to murdering eight-year-old Leiby Kletzky and will undergo a psychological evaluation. A defense attorney said Aron “appears to be unwell.”

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. accused the Bloomberg administration of lying to him and misleading the federal government about the placement of a homeless shelter.

CNN exodous.

There’s an on-line memorial/guestbook for Sisa Moyo.

Cuomo Doesn’t ‘Characterize’ Stories About Sandra Lee

Some brave soul asked Gov. Andrew Cuomo today about his reaction to a consumer advocacy group’s call that his live-in girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, disclose her ties to the petroleum industry.

“Yeah. I don’t know anything about their campaign,” Cuomo replied. “But DEC has done. I think it’s a balanced report. It’s out for public comment, and we’ll see where it goes.”

Asked if he thought it was a “low blow” for a special interest to target his companion, the governor said:

“I don’t characterize. In my business I don’t characterize other people’s actions.”

Cuomo’s comments came following a ceremonial signing of his texting-while-driving ban bill in Watertown. That was one of three such events Cuomo had today.

The D.C.-based Food and Water Watch, which is seeking a full-out ban on hydrofracking in New York, made the call after a WSJ story reported Lee was paid to deliver a speech to a conference of petroleum executives in Florida. Reps to the governor and Lee have refused to identify the group.

F&WW speculated the group was the National Fuel Gas Company, which has significant interests in the expansion of hydrofracking in the Marcellus Shale. But a company spokesman told CapCon Lee did not attend the event “to the best of our knowledge.”

The governor was slightly more illuminating on the subject of how his administration came to select the seven prisons it has tapped for closure. Oneida County corrections officers and elected officials protested the shut down of their local facility earlier this week and called for Cuomo to explain why he had singled it out.

“We had to close prisons,” Cuomo explained. “Most of the prisons are located in upstate New York. We’ve closed prisons in downstate New York also. But just on the numbers, the overwhelming majority are in upstate New York.”

“And then the decisions of which prisons were basically made from a prison management point of view. Where they didn’t need the beds are the beds that they closed.”

Silver ‘Would Love’ To See Cuomo Run For President

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver would just “love” to see Gov. Andrew Cuomo run for president – just not right now.

At about the 2:45-minute mark, Silver was asked about speculation on Cuomo’s national aspirations (actually, the question was about whether President Obama would replace VP Joe Biden with Cuomo, which both the White House and the governor have shot down). Silver replied:

“That’s above Houston Street; that’s above my district.”

“So, in terms of that, you know, I wish the governor well. And I’d certainly would love to see him in the White House at some point. He has been a friend of mine for many, many years, but right now I think he is going to be the governor for a while.”

A Siena poll released this morning found at least 80 percent of New York voters from every party and region say that the speculation about Cuomo 2016 – or, worse yet, Cuomo 2012 – is premature, and he should focus on his responsibilities as governor.

Silver was also asked about Cuomo’s comments in today’s NYTimes about his planned push for pension reform. The speaker said it’s important to “talk to the unions and make them understand the plight of both the city and the state in terms of finances…We should all step up and try to get solutions.”

That same Siena poll I references found New Yorkers’ opinions of both the Assembly and Senate have improved significantly following the successful 2011 legislative session, although their favorability ratings still remain in the red. The speaker praised the “good leadership of the governor” that enabled the Legislature to come together and make “difficult decisions.”

“Basically, I think the public recognizes that the men and women of the Legislature on both sides of the aisle work hard at their jobs. They’re around their districts. They help constituents and they do the legislative work, day and night, that has to be done in order to make government function.”

“I think its always functioned. I think what happened is there was a greater partisanship that took place under the leadership of then-Governor George Pataki and it was the Democrats’ job in many instances to stop things from happening that we felt were inappropriate, under the circumstances. I think you’re seeing a lot more compromises taking place, and that enables government to run smoother.”

AFL-CIO: Why Reform Pensions?

The AFL-CIO is questioning Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan to move ahead with a pension overhaul plan next year while the current fund is achieving a 14.6 percent rate of return — one of its best returns in years.

The Democratic governor told The New York Times that he would seek changes to the state’s pension system next year. Cuomo did introduce a less generous Tier VI proposal that would save $90 billion over more than a generation.

But as the AFL-CIO points out, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli announced the same day as the Times piece that the pension fund is running at a higher rate of return than initially forecast, making them wonder why Cuomo is persuing the reform at all.

“It is interesting to note that on the same day the media is reporting that Governor Cuomo has made limiting retirement benefits for new state and city workers his top priority next year, it has also been announced that the Common Retirement Fund achieved a 14.6% rate of return for the 2010-2011 fiscal year. At the very least, this certainly calls into question the need for so-called “pension reform”. It also begs the question: Why do middle class working men and women, particularly public employees, continue to be targeted for sacrifice, in light of the fact that a new pension tier, Tier V, was signed into law less than two years ago.”

To be fair, fiscal watchdogs have long decried the unsustainability of the pension system, saying it’s built on a house of cards that could tumble at any moment. Cuomo’s long-term goal for the pension fund could be to scale-back costs over years.

The Cloud On Cuomo’s Horizon?

Former Senate Finance Committee secretary Abe Lackman agrees with the congratulatory chorus singing Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s praises for the unusually successful 2011 legislative session, but also warned about a “cloud” looming on the governor’s horizon.

“I think if there’s one cloud I would focus on going forward it’s whether the budget holds together for the remainder of the year,” Lackman said during a forum in NYC yesterday co-hosted by City Hall News; its sister publication, The Capitol; and Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs.

“…There are a lot of unknowns. One is: You’ve got $2.5 billion worth of Medicaid cuts. A lot of those cuts have not been identified yet. We’ll find out pretty soon.”

“We’re also going to find out for the first time how the June PIT revenues are. We’ll know that in two weeks. And we don’t know what’s going to come out of Washington with the debt cap in terms of yet another round of cost-shifting from the federal government to the state government.”

The forum, moderated by Adam Lisberg, editor of City Hall and The Capitol, and yours truly. It was sponsored by REBNY. The title: “Making History: Putting Albany’s 2011 Legislative Session in Prespective.”

Also on the panel: Ken Shapiro, former chief counsel to Assembly Speakers Stanley Fink and Mel Miller; John Cahill, former secretary to ex-Gov. George Pataki; David Nocenti, former counsel to ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer; and Charles O’Byrne, former secretary to ex-Gov. David Paterson.

It was a pretty lively – and unusually candid – exchange. A lot of fun.

Cuomo Bill Signing Tour

Governor Andrew Cuomo is making 3 stops across the state today, holding ceremonial bill signings of the law making texting while driving a primary offense.

Following the event in Buffalo, he answered questions from reporters about several topics including the administrations transparency in light of an accident at Darien Lake, a potential breach in the Great Lakes Compact by the state of Ohio, and hydrofracking.

The Governor also addressed a Buffalo News report that the administration has begun collecting taxes on cigarette sales by Indian tribes to non-natives.

“The courts have allowed us to enforce the law, and we are, and we are doing it aggressively,” Cuomo said. “We are doing everything we can under the law. It has been a long delay, but we are going to be making up for it.”