Weiner To Reporters: I’m Getting Back To Work

U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner sent a missive to reporters camped out his office, saying in no uncertain terms he was tired of answering questions about whether he sent a lewd tweet to a Washington state woman.

Weiner gave a stilted press gaggle on Tuesday, in which he said he wanted to focus on other issues.

Today, the Democrat also reiterated that he didn’t send the tweet. However, he has said in a MSNBC interview that he didn’t know if the photo in question was actually him or not.

Here’s his statement:

“Good morning. Yesterday from 1 o’clock to almost ten o’clock I sat down and did interviews with anyone that wanted. Answered questions extensively. I made it very clear I did not send the picture, that my Twitter account had been hacked and this prank apparently has been successful. But after hours, almost 11 hours of answering questions any that anyone wanted to put, today I’m gonna to have to get back to work doing the job that I’m paid to do. So I appreciate your patience and understanding and if I can do anything to make you more comfortable while you sit out here in the hallway please let me know. Thank you.”

NYers For Marriage: Momentum Is Building

The coalition of advocacy groups pushing for same-sex marriage legalization are seizing on today’s Quinnipiac survey that showed 58 percent of voters back the measure.

The number is virtually the same from a poll that same-sex marraige groups have touted in the past, which they say is a sign that critical mass is building for the issue.

“Momentum for marriage is building every day, and today’s poll shows exactly who is driving that momentum – the people of New York State,” said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry. “Combined with the steadfast leadership of Governor Cuomo, we are confident that the record support of New Yorkers will carry us over the finish line and give loving and committed couples the freedom to marry.”

We’re tracking were Senate lawmakers stand on the issue with this handy interactive map, showing eight legislators either remain on the fence or won’t say how they’ll vote.

Here And Now

Weinergate Day 6

The tabloids had a field day with the Congressman’s comments during yesterday’s media blitz.

NYPost’s John Podhoretz thinks Rep. Weiner is a bad liar.

DN’s Michael Daly thinks Weiner is embarrassed.

And the DN’s editorial board still has questions.

Newsday’s Dan Janison thinks Weiner will be hurt politically by this.

Is an ethics reform deal coming today?

Seems unlikely as there is no bill language being circulated.

Gov. Cuomo, Speaker Silver and Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos all seem confident that something will get done before the end of session.

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher and former Comptroller H. Carl McCall are at the capitol today pushing for a set tuition increase plan. (no link)

Speaker Silver says his conference may support the idea.

Cuomo is receiving much praise for pulling out of the federal Secure Communities program.

The administration left the door open for coming back to the program, saying “until the numerous questions and controversies regarding the program can be resolved…”

NY Post thinks AG Eric Schneiderman is pursuing a “radical environmental agenda” by suing the Feds over failure to study the impact hydrofracking would have on the Delaware River Basin.

A North Country town has repealed it’s “English-only” law after pressure from the AG.

Comptroller DiNapoli’s office is holding up a $70 million highway construction project in the Hudson Valley over complaints over an “unusual” labor agreement.

Both the Comptroller and IG Ellen Biben are now looking into alleged wrongdoing at the SUNY Research Foundation.

Rep. Brian Higgins says Democrats spirits have been lifted with Kathy Hochul’s victory in NY-26.
More >

Quinnipiac: 58% Of NYers Support Same-Sex Marriage

Popular opinion for same-sex marriage continues to tick up in the polls. A Quinnipiac survey out this morning found that 58% of NYers support the passage of a bill legalizing gay marriage. Only 36% are opposed to the measure. Back in April, the numbers were 56% – 38%.

Brian Ellner from the Human Rights Campaign took the news as a rallying cry for passage of a bill, saying “popular support for marriage equality keeps breaking records. Let’s get this done.”

It wasn’t all roses for gay marriage advocates. The poll also asked what legislative priorities were important, and only 51% felt legalizing same-sex marriage was “very” or “somewhat” important. In comparison, 82% felt that ethics reform was important, and 79% consider a property tax cap important.

Quinnipiac also polled other top legislative priorities, including a tax cap and rent regulation. The numbers were virtually identical. 60% want a hard tax cap at two percent as was proposed by Governor Cuomo. 30% oppose it. On rent regulation, voters want the laws extended 62% – 31%.

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Extras

Rep. Anthony Weiner to MSNBC’s Luke Russert: “I can’t say with certitude” if the man in the lewd photo is him.

I will say that we are trying to figure out exactly what happened – whether a photograph was manipulated that was found on my account. Whether something was dropped into my account, whether a photograph was partially in my account.”

Weiner did say with certitude that he didn’t Tweet the photo in question to a young woman in Seattle.

Rep. Louise Slaughter defended Weiner, attacked Andrew Breitbart.

The House Democratic leadership wasn’t pleased with Weiner’s media blitz today.

The techie take: “(T)he case of the crotch controversy seems easy to dismiss as an instance of user error.”

Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle has a Democratic challenger (not Dan Maffei – yet).

Donald Trump warns he could change his mind on 2012 if “I’m not happy with what I see.”

Jimmmy Vielkind’s gut tells him Sarah Palin’s tour will take her to Saratoga.

Former Rep. Eric Massa is using his leftover campaign cash to cover his legal bills.

OCA spokesman David Bookstaver is selling deer hunting clothing and aprons.

Redistricting reform advocates haven’t given up hope yet, but admit their chances of seeing something passed this session are slim.

NJ Gov. Chris Christie is headed to Iowa to attend an education summit.

The NJ State Police insist flying Christie to his son’s baseball game didn’t come at any additional cost to the taxpayers.

The Legislative Ethics Commission’s timing was questioned.

NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn proposed $75 million worth of education cuts to avert teacher layoffs.

The number of teachers who have to get laid off might be smaller than originally believed due to retirements.

Eliot Spitzer says Bernie Madoff epitomizes “an era of irresponsibility.”

Mayors will determine the fate of the entire world, according to Bloomberg.

Non-celebrity New Yorkers pronounce their support for legalizing same-sex marriage.

Skelos: Ethics Deal Could Come Thursday

As details of a possible ethics package were made known today, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos said this afternoon that an ethics agreement could be announced as early as Thursday.

“I think there’s an opportunity to get it done tomorrow, but we’re going to get it done before this session is over,” he told reporters.

“We’re working on it,” he added. “There’s a process that the Legislature goes through. A lot of people were not optimistic we would have an on-time budget.”

He also said that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s vow to use a Moreland Commission to investigate legislative wrongdoing and conflicts of interest plays little role in the negotiations and that it was unlikely to come to that.

“I don’t know whether he’s threatening or if he’s just stating a fact. This is right to say it. I don’t believe we’re going to come to a Moreland Act,” Skelos said.

And, as other GOP legislators have said, he raised concerns that an ethics commission should be bipartisan.

“It has to be fairly done,” he said. “No side whether its Republican or Democrat legislative whatever should have the ability to go gotcha.”

IG Asks For End To External Audit By SUNY (Updated)

SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher this afternoon caleld for special meeting of the Board of Trustees in order to discuss the system’s Research Foundation the same day Inspector General Ellen Biben announced she would audit the organization.

At the same time, Biben has asked SUNY call off an external audit, which is looking at Research President John O’Connor, the alleged no-show job to Sen. Joe Bruno’s daughter Susan and the American Ditchley Foundation — a move that Zimpher embraced.

Earlier this month, the Commission on Public Integrity alleged O’Connor gave Bruno a “no-show” consultancy job. O’Connor is asking Biben to open an investigation into the CPI, including leaks to the press and its handling of ethics inquiries.

Here’s the full statement:

“Upon consultation with the chairman of the Board, SUNY is calling for a special meeting of the SUNY Board of Trustees on Friday, June 3, to discuss an outside expert’s report on the Research Foundation and its relationship with the University.

“Separately, SUNY has been asked by the Inspector General to cease pursuing an external audit or any other audit activity surrounding John O’Connor and the Ditchley Foundation. The Office of the Inspector General has informed us that they will undertake a review of these and other matters. We fully endorse this action, find it eminently responsible, and pledge our total cooperation.”

Cuomo Withdraws State From Secure Communities Program

As NY1 scooped earlier, Gov. Andrew Cuomo is suspending the state’s participating in the controversial immigration-tracking program known as Secure Communities.

“There are concerns about the implementation of the program as well as its impact on families, immigrant communities and law enforcement in New York,” Cuomo said in a statement. “As a result, New York is suspending its participation in the program.”

Some state leaders have signaled growing concerns in recent days over the Immigration and Customs Enforcement program that is designed to find illegal immigrants accused of felony crimes.

However, civil liberties and immigrant-rights groups have said the program is flawed and possibly illegal.

Cuomo said in the statement that his office has received complaints about the program also from law enforcement officials, who believe the program’s usefulness is an hindrance to fighting crime.

And he said the Department of Homeland Security has failed to provide “basic information” about the workings of the program.

Earlier today, Cuomo dodged a question about whether the state would withdraw from the program, saying only it was being looked at.

SUNY Touts Its Economic Impact

The State University system today released a long and detailed study of the economic impact on local communities and the state by its 62 campuses.

Ther report came the same day that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, along with Lt. Gov. Robert Duffy and legislative leaders held a public meeting to discuss SUNY 2020, a grant program designed to aid the major university centers of Albany, Buffalo, Binghamton and Stony Brook.

The grant program will initially consist of $35 million per campus, with $20 million being distributed by the Empire State Development Corp.

How SUNY Matters

Labor Groups To Use Resources To Push For Same-Sex Marriage

Representatives from CSEA, PEF, NYSUT, SEIU, and others joined the Empire State Pride Agenda’s push to convince the legislature to pass a same-sex marriage bill by the end of the session.

ESPA

Mary Sullivan, Executive Vice President of CSEA (pictured on the far left), said her organization decided to take a stand as a service to their members, some of whom are in the LGBT community.

“Labor has always been out in the forefront of human rights issues and social justice issues,” said Sullivan.

“(Our members) deserve to be represented just like all the other members we represent. They want this bill. Their unions are supporting their desire to have this bill.”

Unions are often a welcome ally to a cause because of their ability to organize and mobilize. Sullivan says the groups will do anything asked by ESPA to help push lawmakers to pass a bill.

“If we need to go out and leaflet, if we need to go door to door to get this legislation passed, if we need to go camp out on some Republican Senators’ doorstep, we’ll do it,” Sullivan added.