State To Apply For $100M Federal Early Learning Funds

New York will apply for early learning funds from the federal Race to the Top program, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced this afternoon.

The administration believes the state is eligible for up to $100 million from the Early Learning Challenge, which rewards states that follow specific criteria, including clearer learning standards and workforce development.

“A quality education is our promise to every child, and it begins with first-rate early learning programs,” Governor Cuomo said. “Early learning is critical to providing the building blocks for school readiness and student achievement, and helps create a well-rounded and educated workforce that is vital to New York’s future. I commend the Obama Administration for making quality early education a priority.”

Final criteria for the funding will be released in August and grant applications are due by mid-October. Awards will be made to states in December. New York is one of four large states — California, Florida, and Texas — eligible to receive $100 million, the largest pot of money available.

The state has already received $700 million from Race to the Top in 2010.

A Who’s Who Of Cuomo Donors (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s full campaign filing report is now live on the state Board of Elections website.

As reported earlier, the governor has a whopping $9.2 million in the bank after raising $6.2 million. Cuomo did not appear to spend any money on his legislative or budgetary efforts. Recall that after winning the election, Cuomo said he would use his leftover dough to fuel ad buys in favor of his agenda.

However, it doesn’t appear that he spent any money on a campaign to promote his agenda. That duty was left up to the Committee to Save New York, a coalition of well-heeled business interests backing a property tax cap, a reduced budget and no new taxes.

The campaign did, however, spend more than $12,000 on polling on May 25 at a Kentucky-based firm.

It also appears Cuomo held a multitude of fundraisiers during his first six months, with many checks going to venues like Top of the Rock, Abitino’s Pizza and the Palace Theatre in New York City.

Among the big-name donors on the list:

*Empire State Pride Agenda’s PAC donated a whopping $60,000 on May 3, more than a month before the successful gay marriage vote in the Senate.

*Ivanka Trump, daughter of the Donald and wife of New York Observer publisher Jared Kushner donated two $1,000 checks.

*Laurance Rockefeller, Jr. nephew of the late Nelson Rockefeller, gave $25,000.

*PR guru Howard Rubenstein donated $2,000.

*John Catsimatidis, a grocery-store mogul and usually a backer of Republican causes, gave $2,500

*Tim Gill, a computer software entrepreneur and LGBT advocate, gave $10,000

*Former Lt. Gov. candidate and Democratic activist Dennis Mehiel gave $10,000

*Spitzer and Paterson administration refugee Marissa Shorenstein gave $250 (Shorenstein also popped up on the campaign trail for Cuomo as well).

*Mott’s LLC, the bottling company that frequently clashes with its labor workforce here in New York, donated $38,000.

Here are more bold-faced names:
*Developer and the Cuomo-appointed Thurway Authority chairman Howard Milsten gave $25,000

*Charles O’Byrne, secretary to Gov. David Paterson, gave $5,000

*Political troublemaker Steve Pigeon gave $4,000

Also, speaking of the Dr. Pepper-owned Motts, I’m reminded of the time Cuomo sent Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy to meet with striking workers in Rochester during the campaign.


Charitable Donations Empty Spitzer Campaign Account

The campaign filing of disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer shows a $0 balance after much of his once-mighty financial largesse was given away to charity.

The filing shows that Spitzer donated $50,000 to Harvard College, $25,000 to Harvard Law School and $25,000 to the Horace Mann School in the Bronx, all alma maters of the Democrat.

Other charitable donations include $32,928 to GenerationOn and $25,000 to the Skadden Fellowship

Spitzer’s primetime show on CNN was recently cancelled, but he continues to write a column for Slate. He resigned in 2008 in the midst of a prostitution scandal.


IDC’s Jeff Klein Nearly Raises As Much As Skelos

Bronx Sen. Jeff Klein, the defacto leader of the Independent Democratic Conference, raised $422,534, nearly as much cash as Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Klein has $613,715 in the bank and began the year with $327,734. He reported spending $136,676. By contrast, Skelos raised just shy of $480,000.

That’s a pretty good haul for a lawmaker who is more or less in the minority, despite his committee chairmanship, and one who usually faces token Republican opposition.

Before his relationship with the Democratic conference imploded and Klein took Sens. Diane Savino, David Valesky and David Carlucci to form a breakaway caucus, the lawmaker led the Senate Democrats’ campaign efforts and was always considered a prodigious fundraiser.

I Love NY: Save The Date

The Empire State Development Corp., the managers of the iconic I Love NY tourism brand, are launching a “save the date” campaign for July 24 — the day same-sex marriage officially takes effect.

The campaign includes the I Love NY website directing couples to “dream vacations” in locations from Niagara Falls to New York City.

“Every sector of the New York’s travel and tourism industry will immediately benefit from the economic opportunities created by same-sex marriage. Our ‘Save the Date’ campaign will bring together couples and businesses to establish New York as a premier destination for same-sex weddings,” said ESD President, CEO & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. “Starting July 24th, on the strength of its incredible travel destinations and the progressive leadership of Governor Cuomo, New York will be well positioned to compete with neighboring states for critical tourism dollars to boost our economy.”

For the campaign, the usually red heart has been replaced with rainbow colors.

One of the arguments made by state officials in favor of same-sex marriage — including Comptroller Tom DiNapoli and the Independent Democratic Conference — is that rites for gay couples would lead to larger sales tax receipts for state and local governments. Estimates put the revenue figure at $400 million.


WFP Calls On Everyone To Investigate News Corp.

The Working Families Party Executive Director Dan Cantor just released a statement blasting Rupert Murdoch and his media empire for revelations that they illegally tapped into the phones of crime victims. And joined with Republican Rep. Peter King to call on the FBI to investigate News Corp. and their biggest American companies, the New York Post and Fox News.

“We don’t usually find ourselves on the same page as Peter King, but we are glad to know there is at least one Republican politician who is not afraid to buck Fox News and the Post,” Cantor said in a statement.

Cantor goes on to urge not just the FBI to investigate reports that News Corp reporters may have hacked into the phones of 9/11 victims, but also the Department of Justice, Federal Communications Commission, and any relevant House or Senate committee.

Hochul Keeps Up Fundraising Pace

The newest member of New York’s congressional delegation, Rep. Kathy Hochul, kept raising campaign cash even as she adjusted to the demands of her new job, bringing in $131,993 in the final two weeks of the second quarter alone.

Hochul reported having $204,368 on hand (she had $76,639 on hand left over from the NY-26 special election on May 23). That’s a respectable showing for any House member, particularly a freshman.

Consider, for comparison’s sake, the fact that she out-raised her colleague to the East, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle, who brought in $121,493 this quarter (a good showing, for her) and has $206,063 on hand.

Hochul still owes herself $250,000 that she loaned her campaign back in April. Her contributions include $2,000 from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and $5,000 from House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer’s PAC.

Cuomo To Report $9.2M In Bank, Raised $6.2M

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is set to report raising $6.2 million in the last six months and will have $9.2 million the bank, his campaign committee said this afternoon.

Cuomo began 2011 with $4.1 million in cash on hand and spent $1.1 million.

The sum is pretty impressive, even for an incumbent governor, in a non-election year. The complete filing is yet to go live on the Board of Elections website. But we do know that Cuomo has raised a solid portion of his money from political action committees. His fundraising also outpaces ex-Gov. Eliot Spitzer, whose efforts were limited when he refused to take certain PAC contributions over $10,000.

Cuomo, elected in a landslide, can point to a successful six months in office: a property-tax cap, an on-time budget that closed a deficit without increasing taxes and the passage of same-sex marriage. In other words, there’s something in Cuomo portfolio for just about any deep-pocketed donor in New York to like.

Here are the top line numbers according to Cuomo 2014:
Opening Balance: $4,176,120.01
Total Receipts: $6,220,328.49
Total Expenses: $1,173,188.49
Total On Hand (End of Period): $9,223,260.01

Palin Continues Support Of Buerkle

Sarah Palin, who endorsed then-GOP candidate Ann Marie Buerkle in her (successful) bid to oust incumbent Democrat Dan Maffei, is continuing her support of the CNY congresswoman, contributing $5,000 to Buerkle’s campaign committee this quarter from her Sarah PAC.

Overall, Buerkle raised $121,493, spent $26,102 and has $ 206,063 on hand. She owes $4,070 to her Virginia-based fundraising consultant, Winfrey & Company, and has not yet repaid herself a $14,000 loan made during the 2010 campaign.

Other interesting contributors of note to Buerkle’s campaign: Former White House chief of staff-turned-lobbyist Brad Card ($500) and Dan Senor, who was briefly discussed as a potential US Senate candidate in 2010 (he appears to have blown the maximum contribution limit, giving $5,800).

Buerkle’s showing this quarter is considerably stronger than her first-quarter numbers. In April, after winning the most expensive congressional campaign in CNY history by just 648 votes, she report taking in just $65,150 in net contributions – much of which, $54,000, came from Washington, D.C.-based PACs.

At the time, Buerkle’s staff said she was taking a break from fundraising to focus on her job as a freshman member of the House.

But now that her district’s future is in jeopardy, thanks to redistricting, Buerkle appears to have jump-started her money-raising operation.

The DCCC, unsurprisingly, wasted no time in slamming Buerkle for accepting cash from Palin, whom the Democrats’ deemed “extreme” and “one of the nation’s most controversial and polarizing political figures.”

“One look at Representative Ann Marie Buerkle’s voting record and you see she following Sarah Palin’s right-wing politics – ending Medicare and destroying jobs,” said DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson.

“If Representative Ann Marie Buerkle is embracing Sarah Palin’s kind of extremist politics, then she’s out of touch with New York families.”

Maffei, who recently took a job as a senior adviser for the law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, has said he’s still mulling a re-match against Buerkle in 2012.

Duffy: ‘I’m A Rule Player’

Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy today responded to some of the criticism he received this week after we first reported that he was using his private campaign donations for $1,900 a month apartment when he’s Albany, saying it’s better than using taxpayer money.

“I had a decision to make, whether to use per diems, taxpayer money, to use like every elected official with the exception of the governor, uses in Albany or use funds, my private campaign funds before making a more permanent decision down the road,” Duffy said.

Duffy, according to his campaign filing, has been using his campaign fund to finance his apartment at The Alexander at Patroon Creek, an apartment complex in Albany.

Though it’s within the law to do so because of a often-criticized loophole in the campaign finance law, the news puts him at odds with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s pledge to reform the system.

Cuomo wrote in his campaign book last year that the laws governoring the use of campaign funds by elected officials needs to be clarified and possibly strengthened so that donations are used for campaign-related purposes.

Duffy reiterated that he checked with the Board of Elections to make sure he was following the law, adding “I’m a rule player.”

“That was the option rather than using taxpayer money and that was the decision that I made,” he said.