Weld: Bruno Case Will Be Dismissed

Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, whose law firm is defending former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno in federal court, said in a Talk 1300-AM radio interview this morning that the case should be tossed out, saying that retrying him smacked of double jeopardy.

“They lost in the Supreme Court in the United States, why can’t they just leave it alone?”

He added: “I consider him a tremendously ethical person.”

The 81-year-old Republican was found guilty in federal court in 2009 for “theft of honest services” but the U.S. Supreme Court struck down that provision of the law that Bruno was found guilty under.

Now federal prosecutors are considering bringing new charges against Bruno for bribery and kickbacks. Weld, who in 2006 ran for governor of New York — he lost the nomination to John Faso — said prosecutors would be “rolling the dice” if they followed through.

“The courts are pretty quick to say, not so fast, that’s dirty pool,” he told Fred Dicker. “That’s what the spirit of the double jeopardy law is in the constitution.”

Weld, who left office in 1997 after his appointment to become ambassador to Mexico (it was shot down in the Senate), said he was done with running for office and was not interested in challenging U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in 2012.

Weld, a moderate Republican, also praised Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for achieving an on-time budget.

It’s kind of like the tax deal Obama did with Washington after the Dems took a drubbing in Washington. Certainly on the budget what Gov. Cuomo did with Dean Skelos, the majority leader, was A-OK. A budget on time it was great.

US Senators Boost State DSCC

Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both known as prolific – if not relentless – pursuers of political dollars, will headline fundraisers for the Senate Democrats’ campaign committee in coming weeks.

Save the Date notices for a June 2 event with Schumer are going out today, according to a DSCC official. The location of the event has yet to be determined, although it will be held somewhere in NYC. Tickets will start at $1,000 per person and go as high as $25,000 (per table, assumedly).

The Gillibrand event will be held soon after that, although the venue and date have yet to be determined.

“With two of the most prolific fundraisers and nationally prominent Democratic leaders rallying to support the state Senate Democrats, we’re off to a good start to a successful election cycle,” the DSCC official told me.

The DSCC was in the hole to the tune of about $3 million as of mid-January. The next round of financial reports isn’t due until mid-July, but Sen. Mike Gianaris, who is no slouch in the fundraising department himself, has said he has managed to put a dent in that debt since he took control of the committee at the beginning of the year.

Much-Married Larry King Endorses Gay Marriage

Larry King, a man infamous for his penchant for marriage and divorce (he split in 2010 from his seventh wife, Shawn Southwick), has come out in favor of letting same-sex couples legally wed in New York.

The former CNN host pokes fun at his personal life in a video recorded for the HRC’s New Yorkers for Marriage Equality campaign, saying:

“I know a thing or two about marriage – maybe three, maybe four. Some of us can get married again and again, and others can’t get married at all. Can’t figure that out. Let’s make marriage equality the law in New York, and let’s do it now. Join us.”

This campaign has gained a number of very prominent backers in recent weeks – including NY Ranger Sean Avery – as Gov. Andrew Cuomo ramps up his effort to get same-sex marriage passed by both houses of the Legislature (particularly the Senate) before the session ends next month.

“As New York prepares for a vote on marriage equality, we are thrilled to have such an iconic native New Yorker and one of the nation’s most recognizable and respected TV personalities lend his voice to the cause,” said HRC senior New York Strategist Brian Ellner.”

The press release announcing King’s support cites a recent Siena poll, which found 58 percent of New Yorkers support legalizing same-sex marriage. But a YNN/NY1/Marist poll released last night found voters are split on this controversial issue.

Empire Center: Not All Is Well In Wellsville

The fiscally conservative Empire Center is out with a new report showing that, yes, property taxes in New York aren’t just too damn high, they’re the highest in the country.

But the report issued today, which takes a look at tax rates across the state, found that rate vary widely between upstate and downstate, with the northern and western regions of the state paying far higher tax rates per assessed value.

The report highlights the village of Wellsville (pop. 5,171) in Allegany County, which pays the highest tax burden in the state. The village has a rate of $62.20 per $1,000 of assessed value.

The lowest tax rate was found in Sagaponack, a Long Island village in the tony Hamptons, which has a rate of $1.32.

Overall, the report found that the highest rates are paid by residents in rural areas and cities, where the lowest property values are found.
Benchmark05.12.11

Spinning A Gay Marriage Poll

New Yorkers United for Marriage, the coordinated campaign organized by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to push the legalization of same-sex marriage through the Legislature, is putting a positive spin on yesterday’s exclusive YNN/NY1/Marist poll, even though it found New Yorkers divided on whether gay couples should be allowed to wed.

NYUM spokesman Stefan Friedman characterized the poll as “just the latest in a long line of surveys which demonstrate that a growing majority of New Yorkers believe that all couples should have the freedom to marry,” adding:

Notably, the poll shows solid support from suburban and independent voters: when asked about marriage equality, suburban voters favor it over either other option by 14 points while independents favor it by a whopping 26 points.”

“Despite the fact that this survey chose to include civil unions – an option that is not even being considered by the Legislature and therefore skewed the findings — we know from numerous surveys that a supermajority support full marriage equality when given an up or down choice on legalizing marriage for gay couples.”

“Moreover, notwithstanding the wording of the question, by a two-to-one margin voters support marriage over other options and 75 percent of New Yorkers clearly believe the status quo is unacceptable.”

This poll shows slightly less support for same-sex marriage than a Siena poll that showed 58 percent of New Yorkers in favor, which advocates have been touting since it was released early last month.

EMBARGOED_Complete May 11th, 2011 NYS Poll Release and Tables

Why Sharpton’s Marching

Today is May 12, which means there will be a big crowd of protestors converging on Wall Street to decry corporate tax breaks and wealthy bankers who, as the left puts it, “do not pay their fair share” in taxes, while middle-class families are taking a hit in the budget proposed by NYC Mayor Bloomberg.

As the WFP’s Bill Lipton wrote in an email to supporters last night:

“The middle class is being squeezed out of existence by corporate tax breaks – this is the economic injustice of our time. Social programs that help the poor and elderly are being slashed, and thousands of teachers are getting laid off all around the state.”

“Enough is enough. We need to bring a little bit of Wisconsin to Wall Street. It’s time to show the politicians and CEOs that we won’t go down without a fight.”

Organizers of this union-backed event have posted a series of videos on-line that feature participants explaining why they’re marching today. The current featured video on the site is the Rev. Al Sharpton, who says “working class people have become the sacrificial lamb of the wealthy, who manipulate the government; I march because we must stand up; I march because we must fight back.”

Here And Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo brings his “People First” (or, as Tom Precious prefers, “prod-the-Legislature”) tour to Buffalo at 11 a.m. today.

Also hitting the road and/or doing interviews today: Newly-minted OGS Commissioner RoAnn Destito, Ag and Markets Commissioner Darrel Aubertine, LG Bob Duffy.

Today’s expected topic: The legalization of gay marriage, on which, according to an exclusive YNN/Marist/NY1 poll, New Yorkers are more or less split.

Cuomo said the marriage bill (which he hasn’t yet sent up to the Legislature) will not be introduced in the Senate if there aren’t sufficient votes to pass it.

The anti-gay marriage lobby is ramping up its efforts.

The “Mayday for Marriage” tour will be in Buffalo today, too, with clergy members gathering outside on-the-fence Sen. Mark Grisanti’s office. (No link).

Yesterday, Cuomo called on New Yorkers to pressure legislators to do a deal on ethics reform.

Cuomo said he’ll appoint a Moreland Commission to investigate the Legislature if lawmakers don’t do an ethics reform deal by the end of session on June 20.

Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told me on CapTon that Cuomo is in danger of straying into Spitzer territory.

Suffolk County Executive Steve Levy blasted Duffy after he suggested local officials need to take a look at their own spending.

ESDC CEO Ken Adams made economic arguments for Cuomo’s top policy agenda items while speaking in Rochester.

The special election in NY-26, where 22 percent of residents are senior citizens, may hinge on Medicare reform.

More >

GOP: Davis ‘Assaulted’ Campaign Worker

Erie County Republican Party Chairman Nick Langworthy is circulating a video this evening that purports to be independent candidate Jack Davis hitting a camera-wielding GOP campaign volunteer.

In the video, the man holding the camera is heard asking Davis why he backed out of a the debate between him, Democratic candidate Kathy Hochul and Republican nominee Jane Corwin.

Davis asks the man if he “wants to (get) punched out” and appears to take a swing at the man.

It’s important to note a few things as disclaimers. First, the video provided by and tweeted by Langworthy tonight is only 15 seconds long. This incident was presumably much longer than that. Also, as in every political campaign, videos of opposition candidates are shot by trackers and can be selectively edited.

The video comes the same day that Davis announced he would not take part in the debate set for Thursday and sponsored by WGRZ-TV, the NBC affiliate in Buffalo.

Corwin has been running a close race with Hochul in the Republican-dominate district and the independent Davis is seen as a spoiler for the Republican candidate.

Extras

Tom Precious gives Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s People First tour a new name.

Summer fashion must-haves for the well-dressed man, according to Roger Stone.

Mayor Bloomberg’s decision to fire former NYC Schools Chancellor Cathy Black did not improve his poll numbers.

Newt Gingrich is officially running for president.

If Jane Corwin loses in NY-26, it will be because of Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare overhaul plan, says Donald Trump.

Nate Silver warns against reading too much into the outcome of the May 24 special in NY-26.

Sen. Chuck Schumer will attend a fundraiser for Kathy Hochul.

After attacking Democrats relentlessly on Medicare in 2010, House Republicans now want to wipe the Medicare slate clean.

Donald Trump does use a comb, but does not describe his signature hairdo as a comb-over.

Sen. Tom Duane won’t follow Assemblyman Danny O’Donnell’s lead in reintroducing the gay marriage bill.

Bob Shrum thinks Cuomo is positioning himself well for 2016 on gay marriage.

A former Spitzer appointee will run the American Theater Wing, which is a presenter of the Tony Awards.

Three NY congressmen want to withhold US aid to countries whose diplomats haven’t paid their parking tickets.

Sen. Chuck Schumer thinks there’s a “chance” – but not a “majority chance” – that immigration reform could happen soon.

NYC Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott tapped two deputies.

The Bonx Zoo’s latest escapee has been captured.

Notes from the Twitter wars: Deputy Mayor Howard Wolfson vs. NYC Public Advocate Bill de Blasio.

The 2010 Sagamore Smackdown between Fred Dicker and Carl Paladino made a Top 10 “most bizarre media interviws” list.

Democrats are slamming Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino over his security detail.

The world anxiously awaits Levi Johnston’s book.

This is just…weird.

Gillibrand Won’t View bin Laden Photos

New York’s junior senator, Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand, is taking a pass on checking out the photos of Osama bin Laden’s body, saying she doesn’t need any convincing that the 9/11 mastermind is indeed dead.

The Senate Armed Services Committee, on which Gillibrand sits, is one of four congressional commtitees whose members the CIA is allowing to view the bin Laden photos at its HQ in Langley, Va. – if they so desire.

“I have every faith in our men and women in the armed services,” the senator told me earlier today. “I feel very confident about that mission, so I have no doubts there.”

“And the death of Osama bin Laden does make a difference because it cuts the head off a branch of al Qaeda that has obviously launched the 9/11 attacks, but also has been very detrimental in our work that we are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.”

Gillibrand’s congressional collague, House Armed Services Chairman Peter King, said he will view the CIA photos of bin Laden’s corpse because he’s both curious and in need of some “satisfaction.” The Long Island Republican had called on President Obama to release the pictures to the public, so perhaps this is the next best thing.