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.

Grace Meng, Power Broker? (Updated)

Assemblywoman Grace Meng, a Queens Democrat and the lone Asian-American in the NYS Legislature at the moment, has only been in Albany for three years.

But during that time, she has managed to quietly amass a campaign war chest of more than $500,000 – $519,327, to be exact, according to the July 15 report on file with the state Board of Elections.

That’s a feat only about 10 legislators manage to accomplish each year, according to NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney. At the moment, only two legislators – Meng and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos – are reporting balances that surpass the half-million mark, but not all of the mid-summer financial filings are on-line yet.

UPDATE: I stand corrected. Sen. Mike Gianaris, another fundraising powerhouse and chair of the DSCC, has $1.57 million on hand between two camapign committees and, as the DN’s Ken Lovett writes, is another one of these young legislative up-and-comers to watch out for. He’s also from Queens, albeit a very different area, and he also taps into an ethic vein of cash. In his case, the Greeks.

Historically, only senior lawmakers and those with leadership posts have managed to hit the fundraising high-water mark.

In July 2009, for example, the only Assembly members who had a warchest with a balance of $500,000 or more were:

Speaker Sheldon Silver, Dov Hikind (a major Brooklyn Orthodox Jewish power broker), Vito Lopez (Brooklyn Democratic boss and Housing Committee chair), Richard Brodsky (now a former assemblyman who used to chair the Corporations Committee and lost a 2010 AG bid), Joe Morelle (chair of the Insurane Committee and head of the Monroe County Democratic Party), and Peter Abbate (chair of the Governmental Employees Committee, in the Assembly since 1996).

Meng only raised $12,000 over the past six months and spent almost four times that ($44,905), most of that on wages for her political operation and literature.

She has ramped down her fundraising since the 2010 cycle, even though she faced no opponent in either the primary of general elections.

That was a major milestone for Meng and her Flushing, Queens district, which had seen its fair share of turmoil in recent years.

The seat in the 22nd AD has only existed since 2002, and was first represented by Barry Grodenchik. He was ousted in 2004 by Grace Meng’s father, Jimmy, who was the first Asian-American ever elected to the Assembly. Two years later, Meng retired, citing health problems, and Ellen Young took over. After a bitter primary battle in 2008, Grace Meng ousted Young.

That fight was a re-match. Meng, an attorney of Chinese descent, had run against Young in 2006 but bowed out of the race when Young challenged her residency.

It also had broader implications: Then NYC Councilman John Liu, who is now city comptroller and the city’s only Asian-American citywide elected officials, backed his protege, Young, over Meng in 2006.

The secret to Grace Meng’s success? Constituent services. The district, which has a very high immigrant population, was starved for some attention, apparently. Or, as she told City Hall News last July:

“It’s like when a girl hasn’t heard from her boyfriend, waiting for him to call. She gets frustrated. I just want them to feel that the next time it’s time for them to vote, that I didn’t just come around to get re-elected.”

Meng made headlines recently when she was the first New York elected official to propose “Caylee’s Law” in the wake of the Casey Anthony trial verdict. The measure that would it a felony offense for parents and guardians to fail to report their missing children within a timely manner.

Since Meng’s announcement, all sorts of elected officials – Democrats and Republicans – have jumped on baord, and the “Caylee’s Law” effort is now national.

Libous: We’ll Win Regardless Of Redistricting

ICYMI: Senate Deputy Majority Leader Tom Libous predicted on CapTon last night that the Republicans will retain control of the chamber in 2012 regardless of the redistricting outcome – even if the re-drawing of new district lines is done without politically-controlled gerrymandering.

Libous acknowledged that the Democratic enrollment edge – more than 5 to 1 statewide – would result in fewer GOP-dominated districts, should the governor win his current tug-of-war with the Legislature and make good on his pledge to veto any lines drawn in a non-independent manner.

But the Binghamton Republican said he believes the majority’s performance – particularly following the dyfunctional showing by the Democrats from January 2009 through January 2011 – ongoing partnership with Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and self-appointed role as the protector of upstate will all enable his conference to remain in power.

“I really believe that,” Libous said. “We’ve partnered with the governor on some things. He is a Democrat.”

” I hear it in my district – I have a slightly Republican district – I have Democrats come up to me and say: ‘It’s really great you’re working with Cuomo; you’re moving the state forward.’”

“I think people are going to vote for the representation we’ve been providing in the Senate Republican conference, I really do. And I think we will win in those Democrat districts, and we will hold a majority.”

Of course, the fundraising edge provided by being in the majority won’t hurt the Republicans, either. I’m sure DSCC Chairman Mike Gianaris is going to take issue with Libous’ claims. I’ll let you know what he says when he calls/writes in. He’s scheduled to be on CapTon next Monday night.