Rangel Scoffs At Calls For Weiner To Resign

“For what? To please whom?”

That was the response from Rep. Charlie Rangel when asked by NY1′s Grace Rauh yesterday whether his NY congressional delegation colleague, Rep. Anthony Weiner, should step down in the face of a House ethics investigation following his admission that he sent explicit messages and photos to women he met on the Internet.

Rangel said his advice to Weiner is as follows: “First take care of your wife, and remember that this too shall pass.”

The veteran Harlem Democrat is perhaps the person most able to empathize with Weiner. He lived through a prolonged ethics investigation that resulted in his censure on the House floor, and nevertheless managed to win re-election in a multi-candidate primary last fall.

Rangel weathered an experience similar to the one that Weiner now faces, with fellow Democrats calling for him to resign and Republicans both making him a target and using his predicament to slam his conference colleagues. Like Weiner, he refused to leave – and he survived.

Rangel’s case had nothing to do with sexting. But it nevertheless dominated the headlines intermittently for weeks on end.
The congressman predicted earlier today that Weiner would be able to return to being an effective congressman “if the press gets off his back.”

The ever-quotable Rangel also said he doesn’t understand why Weiner is being singled out for criticism.

“I know one thing: He wasn’t going out with prostitutes, he wasn’t going out with little boys, he wasn’t going into men’s rooms with broad stances.”

“All of those things I understand.” “Certainly I know immoral sex when I hear it from other (House) members and no one has screamed for their resignation, so I don’t know why they’re selecting Anthony.”

Strahan Joins Same-Sex Marriage Push (Updated)

Former NFL Star Michael Strahan and his wife Nicole Murphy are the latest to cut an ad for the Human Rights Campaign, advocating for the legalization of gay marriage.

The former NY Giants Defensive End is the first pro football player to lend his voice to the cause, but not the first athlete. NY Rangers Winger Sean Avery also cut an ad for the HRC. And Phoenix Suns guard Steve Nash, who spends the off-season in New York City, cut an ad as well.

“Michael Strahan is part of an ever growing list of professional athletes speaking out for marriage equality,” said HRC’s Brian Ellner. “There are a lot of tough New Yorkers, but none tougher than Michael Strahan, one of the most feared and accomplished defensive ends in history.”

“He’s our Super Bowl champion for New Yorkers for Marriage. We are honored that he and his fiancée Nicole, would join us in this historic fight for fairness. A vote could happen any day now, and we need all New Yorkers to let their voices be heard in support of marriage equality.”

UPDATE: (Liz adds…) A reader with far more spots knowledge in one finger than I’ve got in my entire brain wrote the following:

“I’m sorry, but I can’t help but laugh at the HRC trotting out a divorced, retired football player and his adulterous second wife with the hopes that – what? – undecided senators will suddenly ‘see the light’?”

“Tell me how the woman who was married to Eddie Murphy when he picked up a transvestite prostitute is going to have any effect on undecideds?

Dems Take On Doheny, Early

U.S. Rep. Bill Owens isn’t up for re-election for another year and a half, but New York state Democrats are already sharpening their knives against his possible Republican challenger Matt Doheny.

Doheny, who wants a re-match against Owens in 2012 for the North Country congressional district, is yet to take a position on the controversial budget plan proposed by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, which supports long-term cuts to Medicare.

From the New York Democratic Party:

“Matt Doheny has decided to run for Congress but has so far refused to tell the voters where he stands on Washington Republicans’ signature issue, Congressman Paul Ryan’s Republican budget plan which passed the House with nearly unanimous Republican support.”

Owens was something of an anamoly in 2010, a big year for the GOP, in which he won a full term after replacing Republican John McHugh, who joined the Obama administration after several upstate Democrats in neighboring districts were swept out of office.

As Maury Thompson at The Post-Star reported today, Doheny may face a challenge for the Republican nod in the 23rd CD from Kelly Eustis a 23-year-old political consultant from Washington County (Eustis turns 25 just before the election, the minimum age to become a member of the House).

Measure Would Restrict Car Electronics Usage (Updated)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo introduced a new measure today that would impose severe penalties on the use of electronic devices while driving.

The measure would include the use of devices like iPads, cell phones, Blackberrys, laptops and GPS units.

(Update: I’m told that for GPS units, the law would not apply to devices attached to the car’s dashboard).

Cuomo said penalties for using the devices would add three points to a driver’s license and a fine of up to $150.

“Every day, countless drivers, particularly teenagers and young adults, drive with their eyes on a screen rather than the road,” Cuomo said in a statement. “Distracted driving is nothing less than a lethal activity for the driver themselves, other drivers on the road, and pedestrians. Current warnings, educational programs, and driving laws aren’t working. We need to impose a true deterrent to stop people from driving while using an electronic device and to keep our roads and citizens safe.”

The legislation is similar to a bill passed the Republican-led Senate that increases penalties for texting while driving.

The measure is third piece of legislation Cuomo has announced introduction of in the last several days as the legislative session winds down. He’s introduced bills that would create a less-than-generous pension tier for public workers and a measure that would allow SUNY campuses to raise their own tuition, capped at either 5 or 8 percent annually.

Cuomo is clearly setting up a busy week with six days left in the regular session. The Senate is expected to vote on an ethics measure next week, with the Assembly following suit.

The governor also wants to renew and strengthen rent control for New York City, due to expire June 15. And Cuomo wants a tax cap approved, along with same-sex marriage.

Miringoff: Next Revelation Could Sink Weiner

Embattled U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner is getting some reprieve from a Marist College/NY1 survey that shows support among his constituents despite his sexting scandal.

Still, Marist pollster Lee Miringoff says the next bad news that comes out the slow-motion train wreck that is the Weiner saga could force his resignation.

“Right now, the 56 percent of his constituents not wanting him to step aside is a big plus for Weiner,” Miringoff told Fred Dicker on Talk-1300 AM this morning. “But anymore revelations and he could go down for the count. That’s going to the equation a little bit.”

The last revelation — that Weiner’s wife Huma Abedin is roughly three months pregnant — added a new wrinkle to the scandal involving Weiner trading sexually explicit photos and messages with young women on social networking sites.

Weiner has touted the poll as a sign that his constituents still support him, even amid growing calls from Democrats that he should resign.

“The guy doesn’t have a friend in the room,” Miringoff said.

It’s also possible that Weiner may stay in the House and become a sacrificial lamb of sorts during Congressional redistricting. His district could be eliminated or force him to run against popular lawmakers like Joe Crowley or Gary Ackerman.

“Now there’s talk that the district may vanish altogether,” Miringoff said. “That would sort of solve some political problems for Democrats.”

Cuomo Emails On Ethics Reform

Several readers forwarded an email they received very early this morning from Gov. Andrew Cuomo entitled “Cleaning Up Albany” that touts the ethics reform deal formally announced Monday (on the heels of a late Friday press release) as containing the “most comprehensive ethics enhancements in modern history.”

As you’ll recall, bill language wasn’t immediately provided to reporters at that Red Room press conference. (A “memo” was circulated instead).

When the bill itself was finally available for parsing, it quickly became clear that the governor had been forced to cut some serious deals with legislative leaders in order to get an agreement – something he needed very badly, considering that cleaning up the Capitol had been a hallmark of his 2010 campaign.

Good government advocates admit the bill – particularly the part about the structure and rules governing JCOPE and the omission of anything to do with campaign finance reform – is far from perfect. However, they have stressed that this is a good first step, and one that can be revisited after several years for tweaking and, if lawmakers allow it, strengthening.

The ethics deal is expected to be passed by the Legislature next week (the Senate is taking it up Monday). Still up in the air are the other two of Cuomo’s trio of post-budget policy priorities: The tax cap and same-sex marriage.

Here’s the text of Cuomo’s email, which also includes a link to Monday’s press conference:

“This week Governor Cuomo unveiled a historic ethics reform bill that will help bring integrity, accountability, and public confidence back to New York State government. The Public Integrity Reform Act of 2011 is the tough and aggressive approach we need to usher in a dramatic change in the way our government does business.”

“The Governor’s bill contains the most comprehensive ethics enhancements in modern history. It provides for strict disclosure of outside income by lawmakers, creates a true independent monitor to investigate corruption, and sets new rules that lobbyists must follow…By cleaning up Albany, we will begin a new era of transparency and effectiveness in our state and give New Yorkers a government they can believe in.”

Here And Now

“He had a style that wore people down,” said Rep. Pete King of why Rep. Anthony Weiner is finding himself so alienated at the moment. “So now, when he needs help, there is no one who is there, not even Democrats.”

One reason why Weiner won’t quit: He can’t afford to without another job lined up.

Weiner’s constituents continue to support his decision not to quit. Whether they’ll vote for him in 2012 is another matter entirely.

Theoretically on the City Hall winners list this week: “Every “New York member of Congress who isn’t (Weiner).”

The Clintons are supporting Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin, but would reportedly prefer it if her husband goes quietly.

Queens residents are split over whether Abedin should stay with Weiner.

She’s still wearing her wedding ring.

The Post accuses Weiner of “hiding” behind his pregnant wife.

Jim Dwyer tried to get Pennsylvania Rep. Allyson Schwartz to explain why she has the “200-proof gall” to overrule the votes cast by NY-9 residents. Neither she nor her spokesperson would come to the phone.

Congressional women have had a hard time with Weinergate.

If the Legislature redistricts Weiner off the map, his colleagues run the risk of the energetic congressman challenging on of them in a primary.

What’s wrong with adult sexting? A debate.

More >

Marist: Weiner Hangs On With Constituents – For Now

Even as the pressure on him to resign mounts, Rep. Anthony Weiner continues to enjoy the support of a majority of registered voters in his Queens/Brooklyn district (NY-9), according to a new Marist/NY1 poll.

Fifty-six percent of those polled said they don’t think Weiner should step down, while 33 percent believe it’s time for him to go and 12 percent are unsure. When it comes to Weiner’s re-election in 2012, however, NY-9 residents are less generous.

“Congressman Weiner’s constituents are drawing a line between his ethical conduct andprofessional judgment. The bottom line: they’re still in his corner on the question ofresignation,” said Marist pollster Lee Miringoff. “As for his re-election prospects, that’s still very much up in the air.”

Voters are almost split on whether Weiner will be able to be effective if he sticks around (48-43). Thirty-one percent said they’re definitely going to vote against him when given a chance, while 30 percent said they’ll be pulling the lever for him – assuming his name is on the ballot and the district continues to exist – and 38 percent are undecided.

EMBARGOED_Complete June 9th 2011 NY 9th Congressional District NY1-Marist Poll Release and Tables

Hochul: Weiner Scandal ‘The Definition Of Irony’

After trying for several days without success, I finally managed to get a comment from Rep. Kathy Hochul (thanks to YNN Buffalo) on Weinergate and whether she thinks the scandal-scarred congressman should resign.

Weiner’s newest colleague side-stepped the resignation question, although she did call his behavior “reprehensible”, adding: “The more that comes out, the more disturbing I find it.”

“I am very adamant that there must be an immediate ethics investigation,” Hochul told reporters at a ceremony marking the opening of her district office outside Buffalo.

“And pending the outcome of that, I believe that if there are sanctions, I will support them. And again as with any member of Congress, a resignation is their decision with their family and their consitutents. That’s how it is with everyone. But I will wait and see if those ethics issues arise, and if they are substantial and merit sanctions, I will be very supportive of those.”

Hochul was asked if she thought it was ironic that this scandal broke just days after her upset victory in a special election that wouldn’t have taken place had it not been for the on-line scandal of a now-former congressman with a penchant for posting shirtless photos of himself.

“That is probably the definition of irony, yes. I would find that ironic, yes.”

Hochul said she believes public service is a privilege and elected officials should be “always honest with ourselves and our constituents.”

Democrats are generally shying away from drawing parallels between the Chris Lee and Weiner scandals, perhaps because the former was so quick to resign and the latter is refusing to heed calls for him to go.

Extras

UPDATE: Sources tell Reuters Hillary Clinton is seeking the World Bank presidency.

Weiner just wants to get back to work, and won’t comment on his wife’s reported pregnancy.

“Apologizing to the president is hard enough, but he can’t exactly take the moral high ground, can he?” said a source who knows all the people involved. “I’d be terrified of (Hillary).”

Rep. Pete King stopped short of calling on Weiner to resign, but said he doesn’t see how the embattled congressman manages to hang on.

Rock Hackshaw makes the case for why Weiner is right to hang on to his seat.

The research arm of Congress circulated a report on the downsides of texting – including sexting – but did not mention Weiner (or any lawmaker, for that matter).

Barbara Walters thinks the photo of Weiner’s genitals is flattering.

It’s all Vincent D’Onofrio’s fault.

YFrog is capitalizing.

Mayor Bloomberg has never taken a photo of himself – for the record – and thinks the voters should decide Weiner’s fate.

The ethics inquiry into Weinergate could take a while.

Would-be Weiner replacement NYC Councilman Mark Weprin thinks the congressman “will ride this out.”

Jennifer Senior questions the timing of the news leak about Huma Abedin’s pregnancy.

Perhaps now would be a good time for Weiner to change his position on independent redistricting?

Just in case he goes with the whole 2012 thing, King has a campaign theme song all picked out.

Mitt Romney got into a heated argument in Detroit over the auto bailout.

Newt Gingrich’s top presidential campaign aides resigned en masse.

A Rudy Giuliani advisor insists the former NYC mayor is still “waiting for the field to settle” and on track for an end-of-summer decision.

Rockland County Executive Scott Vanderhoef would like to know where his state cash is.

Ironcially, Cuomo was raising money – political money, that is – in Rockland County today.

Alec Baldwin actually has run for office before.

Baldwin defends “modern man” Weiner, sort of.

NYC Councilman Dan Halloran thinks Bloomberg “sucks” as a mayor and is targeting him.

Insight into Erie County Democratic Chairman Len Lenihan’s retirement – in verse!

Tomorrow is Eliot Spitzer’s birthday. (Last item).