Reilich: ‘Lee Served The District Well’

Monroe County GOP Chair Bill Reilich held a press conference shortly after 7pm today to talk about Rep. Chris Lee’s resignation, and the special election that is about to take place.

“Certainly when I left today I didn’t think I’d be standing before you talking about this matter. Chris Lee was a Congressman that represented New York well. He understood the challenges of the residents of Western New York, as well as the challenges that small business faces,” Reilich said.

He was recently appointed to the Ways and Means Committee, a very significant and powerful committee. So we are saddened to hear the news as it developed today. And the Congressman recognized the fact that there are too many issues right now, that are before the House and the members of Congress to have this distraction there, to diminish his effectiveness.”

Reilich says he has yet to talk to Congressman Lee.

“I would say that I am shocked, surprised and disappointed. And, we certainly had a lot of hope and thought he was on the fast track. He was doing a great job,” Reilich added. “Quite honestly, one thing I have learned in the 3 years I have been chairman is I guess I shouldn’t be shocked by anything.”

Reilich also talked at length about the special election. He says the county chairs will vote on the candidate, with Erie having the most influence, and Monroe having the second most.

He also says he is excited about the strength of the Republican parties bench. He specifically mentioned half a dozen potential candidates, from Monroe County Executive Maggie Brooks, to Senators Maziarz and Robach, former Assemblyman Jack Quinn, Assemblywoman Jane Corwin, and former Niagara County Chair Henry Wojtaszek.

Source: Paladino ‘Seriously Considering’ NY-26 Run (Updated)

Yes, it’s true.

The former Buffalo businessman, who said on multiple occasions that he was done with politics and wouldn’t seek elected office again after losing to Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo last year, is in fact mulling a return to the public stage by running for former Rep. Chris Lee’s seat.

“He’s having his ear bent very hard, and is strongly considering it,” a source with knowledge of these conversations told me.

Paladino would be a force to be reckoned with in NY-26, considering that he carried 12 counties in the general election – basically every county west of Monroe.

Remember, Lee’s district includes all or some of the following counties: Erie (Paladino won big here; it’s his home base), Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming.

Paladino doesn’t live in NY-26, but rather in NY-27 (that’s Rep. Brian Higgins’ district). But there’s no residency requirement for House candidates. I recall that former Rep. John Sweeney moved into NY-20 – to Speigletown from Cohoes – just before running for the seat vacated by Jerry Solomon.

Paladino’s a wealthy guy, he could certainly afford to relocate if he really wants to run.

Update:
Buffalo TV Station WGRZ just tweeted this: “Carl #Paladino says he will not run for Rep. Chris Lee’s spot. He says many people pushing for NYS Assemblymember Jane Corwin.”

Extras

Former Rep. Chris Lee and his wife in happier days – just three months ago – on Election Night, 2010.

For the record, Lee is 46, not 39.

Goodbye, Sen. Jim Webb.

New leadership positions from Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. (More on this when I’m not up to my ears in Lee resignation fallout, but some new posts of note, based on openings and churn from departures): Deputy Majority Whip went to Barbara Clark, Keith Wright got Labor, Jim Brennan got Corporations, Vivian Cook has the Committee on Committees, Small Business is William Scarborough).

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said he’ll push for the Legislature to take up the same-sex marriage bill this session.

Former Gov. David Paterson will guest host the John Gambling show on WOR next week.

Rep. Carolyn McCarthy was bipartisan before bipartisan was cool.

Cuomo’s Medicaid Redesign Task Force is sifting through more than 2,000 recommendations to reduce the cost of the massive program.

Rudy Giuliani vs. the “left-wing media.”

What you need to know about CPAC.

First Lady Michelle Obama insists the president isn’t covering up his gray.

NYC students saw gains on AP tests last year.

Opponents of NYC Schools Chancellor Cathie Black will appeal a court decision upholding the state Education Department’s decision to award her the waiver she needed to do her job.

Bloomberg 2012: Highly unlikely.

What do the Cuomos have against county fairs?

Here’s Lee behaving himself in a professional manner on the Internet. (H/T Azi Paybarah).

Let The NY-26 Jockeying Begin (Updatedx4)

I just got off the phone with Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy, who managed Chris Lee’s first congressional run back in 2008, and he said he’s “a little bit in a state of shock right now” over Lee’s abrupt resignation following today’s Gawker story.

“I’m surprised by what I see here,” Langworthy told me. “Hopefully, he gets things in order in his life.”

The chairman said he did speak briefly today with Lee, but hasn’t talked to him since his resignation statement was released late this afternoon.

Now, of course, the speculation machine is in high gear as to who will replace Lee in the House – a post that could be rather short-lived, considering that NY-26 is one of the districts that could be cut in the next round of redistricting (remember that New York is slated to lose two seats).

It’s up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo whether – and if so, when – to call a special election (recall that former Gov. David Paterson angered NY-29 pols by deciding to hold the special to replace former Rep. Eric Massa concurrent with the November 2010 general election).

UPDATE: For a primer on how this special election thing works, go to the bottom of this post and read what election attorney Jerry Goldfeder just sent me.

If there is a special election, it’s up to the party leaders to pick a candidate (which went so swimmingly well in the NY-23 special election to replace former Rep. John McHugh). The district includes all or parts of Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Monroe, Niagara, Orleans, and Wyoming counties.

NY-26 is GOP-dominated in terms of enrollment – 147,732 Democrats to 174,205 Republicans, according to the state Board of Elections. It has long been a GOP-held seat. Lee replaced former Rep. Tom Reynolds, who declined to seek re-election after surviving the Mark Foley congressional page scandal.

More >

Lee Resigns

It’s special election time again. Rep. Chris Lee just sent out the following statement:

“It has been a tremendous honor to serve the people of Western New York. I regret the harm that my actions have caused my family, my staff and my constituents.”

“I deeply and sincerely apologize to them all. I have made profound mistakes and I promise to work as hard as I can to seek their forgiveness.”

“The challenges we face in Western New York and across the country are too serious for me to allow this distraction to continue, and so I am announcing that I have resigned my seat in Congress effective immediately.”

…At least he didn’t drag it out.

‘I Have To Work This Out With My Wife’

Fox News caught up with Rep. Chris Lee as he was walking to his car in Washington, D.C. and reports the married GOP congressman declined to comment on the Gawker story about his alleged flirtation with a woman on Craigslist.

The only thing Lee would say was: “I have to work this out with my wife.”

The Buffalo-area congressman told Fox he hadn’t read the Gawker story and refused to confirm he is the shirtless man in the photo provided to the site by the 34-year-old Maryland woman with whom he – or whoever accessed his Gmail account and BlackBerry – corresponded.

Lee’s office told Fox it has no comment “at this time.” YNN Buffalo and CapTon have yet to receive a response to our multiple e-mails and calls seeking a statement and/or explanation.

I spoke this afternoon to several Buffalo Republicans who flatly rejected Lee’s claim that that his e-mail account was hacked, but we’re still awaiting word from the congressman himself.

Meet The New Canal Corp. Director

Asked today what he knows about canals, Canal Corp. Director-in-waiting/soon-to-be-former Schenectady Mayor Brian U. Stratton replied:

“I know the water goes in, the boats go down. The water goes in, and the boats go up.”

And THAT, ladies and gentleman, is what we call “expertise.”

Lee Warned Of Dangers Of The Internet

Rep. Chris Lee, who’s finding himself at the center of a Craigslist scandal today, once penned on OpEd warning teens about the dangers of the Internet – specifically when it comes to responding to messages posted by people you don’t know.

“Through the Internet, with a few keystrokes and the click of a button, a young person can call up information for a research project, make new friends or discover new hobbies,” Lee wrote in a piece that appeared in the June 24, 2009 edition of the Tonawanda News.

“At the same time, responding to what may seem like a friendly e-mail or an appealing marketing offer can have serious consequences. Private information and images can so easily be transmitted to friends and strangers alike.”

“Indeed, for as much promise as the Internet offers young people in the form of educational resources and social connections, there is great concern about the dangers and unknowns associated with a medium that is growing by several billion web pages per day.”

Apparently, he should have heeded his own advice, although the Western NY Republican is claiming – through a spokesperson – that his Gmail account was hacked and he didn’t send a suggestive photo or flirtatious messages to a 34-year-old woman who posted in the “Women for Men” section of Craigslist.

Lee’s OpEd touts the Student Internet Safety Act (H.R. 780), which the congressman called “critical legislation that gives schools the tools they need to educate students on the dangers of the Internet.”

Chief Administrative Judge Warns Of Court Shutdown

Earlier today, Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau defended the judiciary’s refusal to heed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s call to join the executive branch in an across-the-board 10 percent cut, insisting the court system would have to resort to mass layoffs and shutdowns in order to meet that goal.

When the governor has said to us he would like us to cut 10 percent, we are talking about cutting thousands of employees, and there is no way I can cut thousands of employees without shutting down courts,” Pfau told legislators at today’s joint budget hearing.

“…You would be shutting down the citywide courts in New York City. That’s the volume we’re talking about.”

As you’ll recall, Cuomo called out the judiciary during his budget address last week, taking the judges to task for proposing a spending plan that actually is 2 percent higher (about $50 million) than last year’s.

Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman, who’s joining me on CapTon tonight (catch it at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.), said the budget is actually lower when you back out pension costs and perks, which the Legislature doesn’t do.

Pfau was grilled by the GOP lawmaker today, (the legislator asking the question is Assemblyman Jim Hayes), but she stood her ground. She said the judges have a “fundamental constitutional obligation” to keep the courts open and stressed the “independence” of the judicial branch.

However, she also noted that the governor’s budget is a starting point, suggesting there might be some room for negotiation here. Lippman said much the same thing.

Is NY-26 The Next NY-29?

Here we go again? First tickle-me-Massa and now…

340x_lee_twopics

Rep. Chris Lee, a Buffalo-area Republican, is the subject of an extensive piece on Gawker that features a flirtatious exchange between an anonymous woman and the married congressman – or, at least someone who looks a lot like him and used his Gmail account.

Apparently, Lee responded to the 34-year-old woman’s plea in the “Women for Men” section of the Craigslist personals for someone to “prove to me not all CL men look like toads?” She inviged only “financially & emotionally secure” men to reply.

Lee sent a shirtless picture of himself flexing and described himself as a 39-year-old divorced lobbyist. His message:

“Hi, Hope I’m not a toad. :) i’m a very fit fun classy guy. Live in Cap Hill area. 6ft 190lbs blond/blue. 39.. Lobbyist. I promise not to disappoint.”

The woman told Gawker she cut off contact when she did a little on-line search and determined Lee had lied about his age and occupation…not to mention his marital status. Gawker reports:

“A spokesman for the Congressman confirmed that the email address belonged to Lee, and that he had deleted his Facebook account because our initial inquiry had him fretting about “privacy.”

So did the married Republican prowl Craiglist looking for hook ups? After first telling us that he couldn’t comment until we forwarded every single email in question, a request we refused – shouldn’t Lee know if he’s corresponded with women on Craigslist? – Lee’s spokesman eventually announced that the Congressman believed he’d been hacked, and provided an email he claims Lee sent to his staff about the security breach on January 21.”

“…’The Congressman is happily married,” said Lee’s spokesman when pressed for answers to our questions. ‘The only time he or his wife posted something online was to sell old furniture when they changed the apartment they keep in DC.’”

We’ve got a call in to Lee’s office seeking comment, too.