Consultants Come To Crowley’s Defense

Yet another congratulatory email from a consulting firm to its winning client candidates has arrived, and although Red Horse Strategies had nothing little to do with the NY-9 race, it no longer saw fit to weigh in on the fierce bout of finger-pointing now underway in political circles.

“(W)e would like to extend our thanks and congratulations to Congressman and Queens County Leader Joe Crowley on his victories in both Queens Assembly races,” the email states.

“While some are trying to single out Congressman Crowley for the unexpected loss in the 9th Congressional District, we could not disagree more. Joe is one of the most effective County Leaders in the State and has been a fierce advocate on core Democratic issues and progressive values for decades.”

UPDATE: Red Horse informs me it did some mailers for labor unions that supported Weprin and a small canvass for the last two days of the NY-9 race, so it did have some skin in the game here. Mea culpa.

This is kind of a curious approach. Crowley probably doesn’t need any reminding that he’s being accused of putting self-perservation and redistricting interests ahead of the good of the party by selecting a lackluster candidate like Assemblyman David Weprin to run in NY-9. Like the email suggests, he’s taking it from all sides.

The main focus of Red Horse’s email is to laud the “many winning candidates and campaigns we proudly helped during an active primary and special election season,” including four new Democratic Assembly members – Anthony Brindisi in Utica, Dan Quart in Manhattan, and Michael Simanowitz and Phil Goldfeder in Queens.

The firm also said it was proud to have played a role in Assemblyman Mike Spano’s “hard-fought win” in the primary for Yonkers Mayor.

One of Red Horse’s founders, Doug Forand, said the firm didn’t run any of the above-mentioned campaigns, but rather did independent expenditure work (mail, field and phones) for labor unions, including the UFT, HTC, NYSUT, 32BJ SEIU, 1199 SEIU and AFSCME.

Red Horse did run at least one race this cycle – Tim O’Neill’s losing bid in the Rockland County sheriff Democratic primary – but makes no mention of that race in its email. O’Neill lost to Lou Falco, who was a Parkside Group client.

O’Neill remains on the general election ballot on the Independence Party line and reportedly told supporters he intends to continue running.

WH Spox: Obama’s Commitment To Israel ‘Demonstrated, Unshakable’

White House spokesman Jay Carney strongly disagreed with Rep. Eliot Engel’s claim that President Obama’s Israel policy has caused him to lose support among Jewish voters – so much so that the Westchester Democrat wouldn’t be surprised if Obama sees a drop of 10 to 20 points among this key voting bloc in 2012.

This topic has been simmering for a while now, and was kicked up a notch after Rep. Bob Turner’s upset win in NY-9 Tuesday, which ex-NYC Mayor Ed Koch – successfully, it seems – sought to spin as a message from unhappy New York Jews to the Obama administration.

“As recently as last week, or the week before, the prime minister of Israel made an incredibly strong statement about the remarkable commitment, unshakeable commitment, that this president has to Israel’s security and the unprecedented assistance that this president has provided Israel,” Carney said. “…So, this President’s absolute commitment to Israel’s security is I think, demonstrated and unshakeable.”

“The fact is that he is committed to the process of trying to get the two parties to negotiate, get the two parties to go back to direct talks. Because he believes it is in the interests of Israel and in the interests of the Palestinian people to reach peace in a way that ensures Israel’s security and allows them to resolve their issues. That, in the end, will ensure that the jewish state of Israel survives and prospers.”

Deal? What Deal?

Deputy Senate Majority Leader Tom Libous today rejected a report today that the Senate GOP has struck a redistricting deal with the four-member IDC that would leave their respective districts largely in tact.

DN Bronx columnist Bob Kappstatter’s lead item today produced a lot of head scratching among Albany insiders, observers and lawmakers alike. Not because a deal between IDC leader Sen. Jeff Klein and Skelos is so hard to imagine, however. Far from it, in fact. There’s been talk of that in the Capitol hallways since the IDC was formed.

But the hypothesis that the districts of Sens. Klein, Savino, Valesky and Carlucci would remain more or less unchanged at a time when it’s pretty much a given that everyone’s lines are going to be modified to some extent – and the suggestion that the GOP would agree to a deal that protects Sen. Suzi Oppenheimer, who Bob Cohen might want to take another crack at ousting – just seems really far-fetched.

The IDC has already denied any deal. And Libous told me the following during a CapTon interview that will air in full tonight:

“A lot of people love to speculate, and you and I have had conversations about this sort of speculation. I don’t believe there are any deals that have been struck.”

“I personally have not seen a map of any districts, I haven’t even seen my own district yet. So, to say that there are any deals struck, I think people are just trying to create some activity. I don’t believe there have been, and I’m not aware of any deals that have been struck. I haven’t even been able to strike a deal for my own new district.”

I guess between Libous and IDC spokesman Rich Azzopardi’s comments, some people will suspect “they doth protect too much.” Redistricting is an awfully murky process right now, and one that has been further complicated – at least at the House level – by Rep. Bob Turner’s surprise win in NY-9. So, who knows?

Rivera’s Loss Is Central Labor Council’s Gain

There are some staffing changes in the offing for Sen. Gustavo Rivera as his close friend and chief of staff, Marco Carrion, prepares to depart to start a new job as legislative/political director for the NYC Central Labor Council.

Carrion will be replaced by Rivera’s communications director, Conchita Cruz. Both Carrion and Cruz have been with Rivera since his primary victory over now-former Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. – a major win for the reform crowd – last September.

“The Senator and I have been close friends for many years – this change is in no way an end to our partnership and collaborations,” said Carrion.

“I am confident that I am leaving Senator Rivera in good hands – Conchita’s national political experience and wide networks will enhance Senator Rivera’s already rising national and statewide profile as a Latino leader.”

This isn’t Carrion’s first stint with organized labor. Prior to signing on with Rivera, he worked for the UFT and also for the AFL-CIO – both in New York and at the national level. His experience is going to come in handy, since the CLC has had a bumpy year, and is now under new leadership.

In June, the CLC voted in favor of Vincent Alvarez as a replacement for its previous president, Jack Ahern. At the time time, the council’s delegate assembly moved to make the position full-time. Alvarez, 42, whose father emigrated from Cuba, is the first Latino to lead the organization.

Before she joined Rivera’s staff, Cruz worked for Colorado Rep. Jared Polis, focusing on immigrantion policy, immigrants’ rights and LGBT issues. She and Rivera met while they were both working on Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign. (She was at the Chicago HQ helping with Latino outreach during the primary, and then worked on the Florida governor’s race in 2010).

“I am excited to take on this new role and consider myself very lucky to work for an elected official who I so strongly respect and believe in and who shares a commitment to serving not only the voters of the 33rd Senate District, but each and every member of the community, regardless of their immigration status,” Cruz said.

“I am confident in the Senator’s genuine passion for serving his community and in the staff we have assembled to help make that a reality.”

Rivera has ties to labor, too. Before he ran for the Senate, he worked for SIEU, managing the union’s efforts on Obama’s behalf in several key primary states. He then worked as Obama’s Hispanic vote director in Florida. After the 2008 election, Rivera returned to New York to accept a job as director of community outreach for Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Former Leibell Aid Pleads Guilty To Obstruction

As expected, a top aide to imprisioned former Sen. Vinnie Leibell pleaded guilty today to a federal obstruction of justice charge, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara announced this afternoon.

Raymond Maguire, 47, of Putnam County, was a key figure in securing sweet-heart deals for Leibell, a longtime Republican lawmaker, who received below-market value contracting work for a $1.7 million home owned by the senator.

The money was funneled through a non-profit controlled in part by Maguire and Leibell that benefited from the senator’s millions of dollars in legislative member items.

“As he admitted today, Raymond Maguire corrupted the federal judicial system. Our system of justice, and the grand jury’s search for the truth, depends on people being honest rather than providing the grand jury with phony documents. No one, least of all a public official, can be permitted to hide the truth from the grand jury.”

According to the complaint, Maguire acted as the general contractor for Leibell. After word spread that federal investigators were poking around, Maguire contacted one of the favored contractors to “clean up the paper” regarding the work he had done on Leibell’s home.

He told the contractor to create fake back-dated invoices for the work to make it appear as if Leibell had paid the full-market value for the home. And he told the contractor to lie to investigators during questioning.

Maguire will be sentenced Dec. 16 and faces up to 10 years in prison.

Leibell resigned his Senate seat abruptly in late 2010, several weeks before he was expected to take office as the Putnam County executive. The move was considered odd at the time, but was later fully explained after Leibell plead guilty himself to corruption charges.

He is currently serving 21 months in a Pennsylvania prison. In a bizarre, only-in-Albany twist, Leibell sought to avoid jail time at the last minute by asking to become a diplomatic envoy to the Middle East. The petition was turned down.

Maguire Plea Agreement


Cuomo Sending Some ‘HELP’

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced today a $25 million loan fund that would help local governments fix drinking and wastewater treatment facilities damaged by tropical storms Irene and Lee.

Dubbed the Hurricane Emergency Loan Program, the fund would draw from the Drinking Water and Clean Water Revolving Funds, the proposal must still be approved by the Public Authorities Control Board on Sept. 21.

“HELP loans will provide expedited assistance to municipalities that are coping with serious damage to their drinking water and wastewater treatment systems,” Governor Cuomo said. “These loans will be a lifeline to communities who are working so hard to recover from these devastating storms.”

The laon fund comes the same day as Unshackle Upstate calls for the governor to use design-build to aid the recovery effort for some infrastructure, which essentially would mean a suspension of the Wicks Law.

The storm damage is expected to cost at least $1 billion, with a $100 million price tag directly attached to the state.

Parkside Congratulates ‘Victorious Clients’ (And Weprin)

An email from The Parkside Group, which ran Assemblyman David Weprin’s failed campaign in NY-9, congratulating its “victorious clients in yesterday’s elections” is raising eyebrows in New York political circles today.

“From the Mohawk Valley of Central New York, to the Hudson Valley communities of Rockland County, we’re honored to have worked with such great (and successful) candidates for public office,” the (unsigned) missive continued.

The email cited two Assembly special election victories.

The first: Democrat Anthony Brindisi’s win in the 166th to succeed ex-Assemblywoman-turned-OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito. Actually, Parkside didn’t run that campaign, but did work with SEIU on an independent expenditure operation in a district “where Republicans are typically the victors.” (Destito is, however, a Democrat).

The second: Democrat Michael Simanowitz’s victory over Republican Marco DeSena in the 27th AD special election to fill the seat vacated by his former boss, retired Assembywoman Nettie Mayersohn.

Parkside’s consultants were the “chief strategists” in this race, according to the email, which added: “We have known Michael for years and are positive that he will be a truly exceptional legislator and public servant (just like his esteemed predecessor, the Hon. Nettie Mayersohn).”

The third race: The Democratic primary for Rockland County sheriff in which political newcomer Lou Falco defeated the perceived favorite, Tim O’Neill. Parkside handled strategy and media for Falco.

(The email describes O’Neill as “high-spending,” which I interpreted to mean that he outspent Falco. In fact, it appears to have been the other way around.

If you add up the July 32-day and 11 day pre-primary filings, you find Falco raised a total of $136,000, spent $103,000 and had $93,000 on hand for the final 11 days. In the same time frame, O’Neill raised $125,000, spent $94,000 and had $33,000 on hand).

Parkside didn’t shy away from mentioning Weprin’s loss, saying that while the results “weren’t what we had hoped for, we are proud to have been part” of the assemblyman’s team. The firm has sustained wide-spread criticism for Weprin’s gaffes, much of which actually started before the first vote was even cast Tuesday.

NOTE: The following reads to me – and this is only my take on it – as not only a recognition of the work the candidate and his supporters did on the campaign, but also a noting that more than just one firm (which just so happens to be bearing the brunt of the blame for this outcome) worked on the race.

We would like to thank David, his family, his dedicated campaign staff and the thousands of volunteers who worked so hard over the last two months. ”

“We’d also like to recognize some of the great leaders in the Democratic Party that we worked with, including the staff and leadership of the DCCC. David may not be going to Congress, but we know he will continue his fight to improve our economy and create jobs as a powerful voice in the State Assembly.”

There has been a lot of behind-the-scenes finger-pointing going on as to who is most responsible for Weprin’s failure to win in what was supposed to be a safe Democratic district. Labor sources have insisted they weren’t called in until the last minute, and so shoudln’t be blamed for the GOTV failure.

The local Democrats say the national Democrats got engaged late, too, while the nationals say the locals picked a weak candidate and ran a disengaged, frontrunner’s campaign that allowed Congressman-elect Bob Turner and his team to run circles around Weprin.

Stewart Weighs In On NY-9

Jon Stewart weighed in on the ninth congressional district victory last night, the first time he’s done so since his former roommate Anthony Weiner resigned in a sexting scandal.

Stewart expressed shock the former Mayor Ed Koch endorsed Republican Bob Turner over David Weprin, though he has a history of crossing party lines.

And he mocked the celebrity endorsement of Sha Na Na’s Jon “Bowzer” Bauman for Weprin.

“Ask your parents,” Stewart said to the Gen-Y crowd, “to ask their parents.”

Reed: No Worries On Redistricting

U.S. Rep. Tom Reed isn’t concerned that the upset election of Republican Bob Turner in the ninth congressional district will mean he faces the possible elimination or consolidation of his district next year.

New York is expected to lose two seats in the coming round of redistricting and speculation has focused that the NY-9 will be erased, while an upstate district will be eliminated as well.

And with so many relatively new House members in western and central New York, two newbie members could either be pitted against each other or in an election against a longtime representative who is well-known and well-funded.

But unlike his neighbors that include Democrat Kathy Hochul and Ann Marie Buerkle, Reed has slightly more tenure — albeit barely. He won a special election to replace Eric Massa in 2009 and then won a full term outright in 2010.

Interviewed on The Capitol Pressroom earlier today, the Republican praised Turner’s win in the heavily Democratic district, but said he didn’t expect it to be a harbinger of his district’s demise.

“At the end of the day, I think we’ll be just fine, keep working hard and let the people decide in November,” he said.

Asked if he’s been to Albany to lobby the redistricting issue, Reed said he had, but also talked to state lawmakers on a variet of issues.

“We’ve been up and talking with the state Senate leaders and the Assembly, not just on redistricting,” he said. “We’ve been in Albany many times for many different reasons.”

‘Not Something We’re Used To Doing In New York’

Rep. Pete King just Tweeted a video of himself introducing the newest member of New York’s congressional delegation, Rep. Bob Turner, shortly after his swearing in on the floor of the House this morning.

Turner’s surprise win in NY-9 on Tuesday brings the number of Republicans in the delegation back to eight. (For you CapTon viewers, both myself and state GOP Chairman Ed Cox miscounted during last night’s show and mistakenly pegged the number at six, with Turner as the seventh).

King is the dean of the GOP portion of NY’s delegation and was once one of just two Republican members – along with ex-Rep. Chris Lee, whose seat is now held by a Democrat. The Long Island lawmaker joked at the outset of his remarks that “this is not something we’re used to doing in New York.”

He got some laughs and a smattering of applause. King called Turner “a great friend and a great human being” who will make an “outstanding congressman.” Rep. Charlie Rangel, a Harlem Democrat and dean of the delegation, then presented Turner to the House, and the newbie congressman received hearty cheers and a standing ovation.

Turner has some catching up to do when it comes to learning the rules of the House. He mistakenly started speaking before being formally recognized by House Speaker John Boehner. Turner took being interrupted by Boehner in stride, turning to the speaker and asking: “Now?”

Turner pledged never to forget that he had been elected in an “important bipartisan election,” adding: “It’s the only way it can be done in New York City.” In other words, no matter how thrilled GOP leaders are about Turner’s win, if they think they’ve got aanother Tea Partier in their midst, they’re wrong.