Malpass’ Change Of Heart

Former US Senate candidate David Malpass declined during a CapTon interview today to join the call for state GOP Chairman Ed Cox to resign, taking the position that as a political newbie (this was his first time out as a candidate), he would prefer to leave such decisions to the experts.

“You know, I’ve never run for office before, and I’m not so much in the political establishment, so I’m going to let those guys, you know, sort it out a bit,” Malpass told me.

“I want to keep focused on what my organization stands for in trying to have issues that make the government smaller.”

When I noted that Malpass, along with his fellow GOP Senate contenders – Bruce Blakeman and former Rep. Joe DioGuardi – had been fairly definitive in their collective “no” responses to a pre-primary debate question on whether Cox had been a good chairman, he responded:

“You know, that was my opinion on that night in a lightning round answer. I think Ed had a lot of impact, positive impact as we led up to November 2.”

“So, I’m really not eager to get into that debate. I want other people to sort that out. And then to begin thinking about how the Republican and Conservative parties in New York can come up with unified strong candidates as we head into 2012.”

Malpass also didn’t rule out – or rule in – another attempt to oust Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand when the term for which she was just elected (technically, the remainder of Hillary Clinton’s six year term) is up in 2012.

CSEA Wields FOIL As A Weapon (Updatedx3)

The Civil Service Employees Union used a well-placed FOIL request to reveal the Paterson administration has added 36 top-level positions to the beleaguered Department of Environmental Conservation over the past five much, 18 of which pay more than $100,000 – all since the establishment of a July 2008 hiring freeze.

The DEC has become a Ground Zero in the ongoing battle between the governor and the public employee unions over layoffs ever since its former commissioner, Pete Grannis, was fired for insubordination after the leaking of a memo he wrote warning further cuts at the agency would render it unable to fulfill its core missions.

“At a time when the Paterson administration is seeking to lay off rank and file state employees, there is no way this administration can justify this action,” said CSEA President Danny Donohue in a press release.

“CSEA believes that necessary work is being undermined in numerous state agencies and it is essential to have qualified employees in place, but in light of the governor’s layoff threat it is outrageous that the administration continues to hire top level personnel.”

CSEA, which has threatened to sue Paterson if he goes forward with his plan to lay off 898 state workers prior to the end of his term on Dec. 31, has pending FOIL requests regarding hiring at other – yet unnamed- state agencies.

UPDATE: DEC spokesman Yancy Roy took issue with the characterization of these hires as additions, saying the people who got these jobs were promoted from within to fill vacancies left by early retirements.

He could not immediately say whether the salaries they’re receiving are equal to those of the individuals who departed the payroll, which would seem to defeat the purpose of early retirement incentives.

Also, it should be noted that this isn’t the first time the administration has hired since the freeze went into effect.

UPDATE2: A statement from Paterson spokeswoman Jessica Bassett appears after the jump.

More >

Maffei Buys Some Time

Rep. Dan Maffei is getting a 24-hour reprieve.

Attorneys for both sides (which would be Maffei and his challenger, Republican Ann Marie Buerkle) have agreed to postpone their Tuesday morning court date until Wednesday to give everyone, including the state Board of Elections, a chance to review the numbers one final time.

According to a source involved with the absentee count effort, there’s considerable concern about the Wayne County operation, which was apparently rife with “human error” (according to this source, a nice way of saying “incompetence”).

In the meantime, Maffei’s campaign just released the following statement:

“No decisions have been made and we are reviewing the re-canvass and audit documentation that the counties are providing to the state Board of Elections as part of the process that is required in order for them to ultimately certify this election.”

Paterson: I’m Not Coasting

Gov. David Paterson insisted he’s not just running out the clock in the final weeks of his tenure, but is working diligently in hopes of minimizing the financial mess his successor, Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, will have to face when he assumes control at the stroke of midnight on Jan. 1.

“We try to notify the governor elect of everything we’ve been doing, but we are working until Dec. 31,” Paterson told reporters earlier today after announcing a land claims deal with Stockbridge-Munsee Community and Band of Mohican Indians.

“We are not wasting any time or any taxpayer money that’s paying for us to be here. We’ll be here, we’ll be working on a number of issues until the end of the year,” the governor continued.

“The Legislature is coming back next Monday. Hopefully, they would consider reducing the deficit that’s grown because many of our budget claims, particularly related to the sale and taxation of cigarettes, have been bottled up in the courts.”

“And we’re going to need about $315 million so that the new governor can come in with an even playing field and tackle next year’s projected $9 billion deficit. So, we are not taking it easy in our last days.”

Cuomo Talks Around The Layoffs Question

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo today voiced support – albeit not happily – for the 898 layoffs Gov. David Paterson is pursuing prior to the end of the year, but avoided directly addressing whether he would seek to increase that number in his first executive budget.

Speaking outside Tryon Residential Center (a Fulton County juvenile detention facility that is currently empty and has been rumored to be poised for closure for some time now), Cuomo reminded reporters to keep in mind the human price of layoffs, stressing that each “number” that corresponds with a job being cut is actually connected to a family.

The governor-elect said the only key to fixing New York’s economic problems is to encourage private sector growth, particularly upstate.

“The answer is not to have the state of New York hire people who need jobs and have the taxpayers pay,” Cuomo said. “That is not the way out of this problem. It will only make it worse.”

OK, then. Well, Mayor Bloomberg is proposing more than 6,000 layoffs between now and the end of FY2012. Will Cuomo do the same?

“900 is what Governor Paterson believes is required to balance the books this year,” Cuomo replied. “Next year is going to be a tremendously difficult financial problem.”

“The deficit they’re anticipating is betwen $9 and $10 billion dollars. There is no defederal bailout in sight. That would be a deficit that has to be closed after there have already been deficits for two, three years. It is going to be very, very difficult. And all the choices will be hard choices next year.”

Dadey To Maffei: ‘Show Some Class’ And Concede

New Onondaga County GOP Chairman Tom Dadey released a statement this afternoon declaring the NY-25 race “over,” and calling on Democratic Rep. Dan Maffei to “show some class and do the right thing” by conceding the race to his opponent, Ann Marie Buerkle.

Dadey said he believes the first-term congressman, who is trailing Buerkle by 567 votes following yesterday’s absentee ballot count in Wayne County, is feeling the “backlash” from his support of outgoing Speaker Nancy Pelosi, his “yes” vote on health care reform, and his decision to oppose funding for the Afghan War after he initially voted in favor of the military surge.

“Mr. Maffei’s support of these and many other issues was not reflective of the people of the district and he paid for it at the polls,” Dadey said.

“As hard as it must be to let go of the office he feels he is entitled to, it’s time for him to concede so a smooth transition can take place. I hope Mr. Maffei will show some class and do the right thing.”

Dadey noted the Maffei campaign has challenged a total of 289 ballots, and even if every single one of those was thrown out – a highly unlikely scenario – it still wouldn’t give him enough votes to win.

“It’s over, Dan Maffei has no chance to win the 25th congressional seat and it’s time for him to stop wasting tax payers dollars and do the honorable thing and right thing for the residents of the 25th District and concede,” Dadey said.

So far, there’s been no word from Maffei, even as Democratic officials and attorneys are trying to (gently, so far) convince him his chances of pulling this off are very slim…at best.

Morris’ Plea, Allocution

Here are the documents related to Hank Morris’ guilty plea in connection with AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s pay-to-play pension fund investigation.

For those who aren’t legally minded (like, say, me)….an allocution is the formal statement made in court that is, according to Wikipedia, “sometimes required of a defendant who pleads guilty to a crime in a plea bargain in exchange for a reduced sentence.”

Interestingly, Morris’ alloucation does not include an apology. Morris’ attorney William Schwartz released the following statement: “Hank is relieved to be able to start to put this behind him.”

Exhibit a PDF

Morris Plea Agmt Executed 11-22

Maffei Digs In

Democrats are growing increasingly dismayed by Rep. Dan Maffei’s refusal to concede the race to his GOP challenger, Ann Marie Buerkle, and continued push for a full hand recount in NY-25, according to a source familiar with the congressman’s position.

A conference call is scheduled for 1 p.m. this afternoon, during which party officials and attorneys will try – yet again – to convince Maffei that a recount would not only be costly – pegged somewhere in the neighborhood of $200,000 to $250,000 (which is what the NY-20 effort cost, I’m told) – but also a waste of time.

It’s unclear where that money would come from. As of mid-October, Maffei had $450,581 on hand and $10,186 in debt. It’s a pretty safe bet he’s got a lot less on hand now that the hard-fought general election has come and gone.

The DCCC does not appear inclined to help him, either. Both state and federal operatives who were detailed to the district to deal with the absentee ballot count and machine audits have been pulled out and deployed elsewhere.

Absentee ballots were opened in GOP-dominated Wayne County over the weekend, and Buerkle’s lead now stands at 567 votes.

That doesn’t seem like much, but it’s actually quite significant in a congressional race, according to election law attorneys. Once you get into the multiple hundreds, it’s really quite difficult to come back from the dead.

(Unlike, say, what’s going on in NY-1, where just over a dozen votes separate Rep. Tim Bishop from Randy Altschuler. In that case, attorneys say, a full recount is likely warranted and could tip the balance either way).

Attorneys for Maffei and Buerkle are due in state Supreme Court for a hearing tomorrow morning.

Rattner vs. Cuomo, Is It Personal? (Updated)

Financier and former Obama car czar Steve Rattner took some shots at Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo on Morning Joe earlier today, saying he has never been a part of Cuomo’s “fan club” and mentioning the AG’s ex wife, Kerry Kennedy.

Rattner reiterated his “bully” line against Cuomo, adding that he’s baffled as to why the AG refused to settle with him like the SEC did, and instead slapped him to with civil lawsuits that seek $26 million and a lifetime ban on his ability to engage in securities trading.

“I have spent many nights wondering what this is about,” Rattner said. “Contrary to what Carl Paladino would have us think, I’m not really close to Andrew Cuomo.”

“I’ve never really been part of his fan club. He’s tried to cultivate my wife and me. You know, we are big, were big, Democratic fundraisers. I never really took to his charms, never really thought he was a particularly substantive guy.”

“You know, my wife is close to Kerry Kennedy. I don’t know. I find it as mysterious as you seem to as well. He’s now in the process of pivoting to being governor, I don’t know, the state is a mess.”

“There are enormous challenges in front of this state. You would think this is a matter that he would want to be able to resolve and move on and be an effective governor.”

(H/T Jimmy Vielkind on CapCon).

UPDATE: It should be noted that Rattner’s wife, Maureen, contributed to Cuomo’s AG campaign – $2,000 in 2005 and $5,000 in 2006. (Kennedy and Cuomo had long since divorced by then). So, if there’s some sort of personal tension between these two, it developed between 2006 and the present.

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Morris Pleads Guilty

According to the AP, political consultant Hank Morris pleaded guilty this morning to a single charge of felony securities fraud in connection with Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s pay-to-play pension fund probe.

He faces up to four years in prison when he is sentenced Feb. 1. He will also have to forfeit $19 million.

State prosecutors portrayed Morris as the driving force in the pension fund fraud scheme that has netted a number of political operatives, financiers and, just recently, former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi.

The AP reminds us that Morris was accused of using his ties to Hevesi to extract millions of dollars in kickbacks from financial firms seeking a role in handling pension fund investments.

Morris cut a deal with Cuomo after he was hit with a 77-count indictment.

Cuomo’s prosecutors submitted the terms of the agreement earlier this month to Manhattan state Supreme Court Justice Lewis Bart Stone, who initially wanted to release the details, but was convinced by the AG’s office to keep them under wraps until they were finalized.

Cuomo has been trying to tie up loose ends as he prepares to hand his current office over to AG-elect Eric Schneiderman and move on to bigger things.

Last week, he said the dual civil lawsuits he slapped on former Obama administration car czar signaled – to him, at least – the end of the pension fund probe.

But Ratter isn’t taking those charges lying down, and so it may very well fall to Schneiderman to defend his predecessor’s actions in court – much like Cuomo did (at least in some cases) with the remnants of the Wall Street cases.