Cuomo Won’t Let Up On Rattner

Former Obama administration car czar Steve Rattner may have settled with the SEC, but outgoing AG/Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo doesn’t appear in any rush to follow suit.

The Times reported this morning that the AG’s office has issued a new subpoena to Rattner’s former firm, the Quadrangle Group, seeking information about Rattner’s compensation and the financial terms of his departure.

“The subpoena comes as Mr. Cuomo’s office continues settlement negotiations with Mr. Rattner over his role in kickbacks to secure investment business from the New York State pension fund,” the Times’ Peter Lattman wrote.

“Last month, Mr. Rattner rejected a settlement offer from Mr. Cuomo that would have him pay a $20 million penalty.”

“Mr. Rattner and his lawyers have rebuffed that amount, arguing that it is disproportionate to the money he earned at Quadrangle, a private equity firm he co-founded a decade ago, and to the penalties paid by other executives ensnared by the pension fund investigation.”

It will be interesting to see whether Cuomo ties this one up before he departs the AG’s office, or chooses to leave the case for his successor, AG-elect Eric Schneiderman, to handle.

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Nice Doing Battle With You

Who says bipartisanship is dead?

Senate Democratic conference spokesman Austin Shafran just released a rather glowing statement in response to the news that his adversary, Senate GOP spokesman John McArdle, is tendering his resignation after nearly three decades on the job.

“John is one of the most respected colleagues in government I’ve had the pleasure of working with,” Shafran said.

“Though we usually were on different sides of most issues, there is no one I would rather do battle against because his skill and tenacity made for a better debate and a better New York. I wish him the best of luck in all future endeavors.”

End Of The McArdle Era

John McArdle, the veteran spinmeister who served four different majority leaders during his nearly 30-year tenure in state government, is poised to depart the public payroll, Minority Leader Dean Skelos announced this morning.

“I have always valued John’s wisdom, advice and support, but mostly I value his friendship,” Senator Skelos said.

“He has truly set the standard for doing a very difficult job and, in doing so, has earned the respect of members from both sides of the aisle and the reporters who cover Albany.”

“John is truly an institution in the Capitol whose presence will be missed. On behalf of all the members of the Senate Republican conference, I thank John for his many years of service and wish him the best of luck.”

I spoke briefly with McArdle this morning. He told me he had been waiting to hand in his retirement papers until he felt secure the GOP had managed to take back the majority (an assertion I’m sure the Democrats will debate, but one that seems increasingly likely).

He said he plans to do some crisis communications consulting (not lobbying, however) and will likely set up a partnership with former Senate Finance Secretary Abe Lackman. A replacement for McArdle has not yet been tapped, but whoever it is will likely come from inside.

McArdle’s retirement has been anticipated for some time, particularly since other high-level Senate GOP staffers have all long since left for more lucrative careers in the private sector, including Ken Riddett (counsel), Steve Boggess (secretary to the Senate), Lackman Jeff Lovell (finance secretary), and Mike Avella (counsel).

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NYers To Cuomo: Focus On The Job You’ve Got

Today’s Siena poll finds New Yorkers have high hopes for Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo and his ability to get things done in Albany, but they’re not thrilled speculation is already underway about his possible designs on the White House.

More than eight in ten voters don’t want to hear about a potential Cuomo presidential candidacy, preferring that he prove he can succeed as governor first.

“While there’s been early speculation by some that the governorship will merely be a stepping stone for Cuomo’s bid for the White House, that kind of talk does not make voters happy,” said Siena spokesman Steve Greenberg.

“Only 11 percent of voters like the Cuomo presidential speculation, while an overwhelming 85 percent, including 79 percent of Democrats, say they don’t like the speculation because Cuomo needs to prove he can succeed as governor first.”

However, 64 percent have a favorable view of the governor-elect, and three quarters of voters believe he’s got a good shot at creating jobs and helping turn around the state’s economy – the top priority for 48 percent of those polled.

The No. 2 issue voters would like to see Cuomo address when he takes office in January is the state’s ever-growing budget deficit. Very few (9 percent) put passing a property tax cap and ethics reform (6 percent) – two of Cuomo’s signature campaign issues – on the top of the governor-elect’s to-do list.

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Here And Now

Rep. Charlie Rangel’s ethics trial starts today – the first time the eight member subcommittee has gaveled in since 2002.

Former Alabama Rep. Earl Hilliard, who has faced such a trial himself, warned Rangel won’t have an easy time of it.

The trial will put R. Blake Chisam in the spotlight.

Rangel plans to defend himself (assuming he shows up today) because he has run out of cash to pay his attorneys.

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo denied a report that he rebuffed federal prosecutors’ requests that he go after former Senate Majority Leader Joe Bruno.

Albany County DA David Soares reportedly also took a pass on prosecuting Bruno.

Cuomo isn’t anxious to empower his successor in the AG’s office, Eric Schneiderman, to go after public corruption in Albany.

The Post makes a pitch for Cuomo to keep state IG Joe Fisch on after his term expires.

The lame duck state Senate session that was supposed to take place today will now likely be called for Nov. 29, but it’s unlikely much will be accomplished.

The TU’s Tim O’Brien recalls the day former Gov. Mario Cuomo tried to be a reporter and suggests the former governor finally sit for his official portrait.

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Cuomo Taps Kennedy Jr. For Transition Team

Part II of the Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo/LG-elect Bob Duffy transition team rollout came today with the announcement of three new committees that will recruit, review and recommend candidates to fill “top positions” in the following areas: Energy, environmental, public safety, human services and housing.

Among the members of these committees: Robert F. Kennedy Jr., the chief prosecuting attorney for Riverkeeper and Cuomo’s ex-brother-in-law.

Kennedy briefly considered a run for AG in 2006, which would have been a primary of Titanic (and extremely personal) proportions. But that battle never materialized.

Both Cuomo and Kennedy were mentioned as potential replacements for then-US Sen. Hillary Clinton, but Gov. David Paterson ultimately gave the seat to then-Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand after a messy and prolonged selection process involving another Kennedy (Caroline).

Cuomo has been tapping a lot of big-name people for these transition committees. As the Times put it in an editorial Friday:

“This week, Mr. Cuomo created a transition team that includes so many diverse voices that it’s hard to imagine all 55 of them in one room coming up with a coherent way forward.”

“Republicans; Democrats; political, business and labor leaders; the New York City comptroller, John Liu; Mayor Byron Brown of Buffalo; and Ken Langone (former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s nemesis) are all on the team. Lt. Gov.-elect Robert Duffy will be in charge. We wish him luck.”

In today’s press release, Cuomo pronounced himself “grateful that so many leaders have pledged to help us build our administration,” adding:

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The Weekend That Was

No more Four Loko as of Nov. 19.

The Times calls on Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo to “put some flesh” on the policy proposals he rolled out during the campaign.

Cuomo has tapped NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and Rep. Peter King to positions on the transition committee.

King’s elevation once the GOP takes control of the majority could be good for his mentor, former Senator-turned-lobbyist Alfonse D’Amato.

The Syracuse Post-Standard likes Cuomo’s attention to upstate so far.

The Rochester Democrat & Chronicle is cheering on Cuomo’s transition team from the sidelines.

Ethics reform is high on Cuomo’s to-do list.

The governor-elect responded positively to IG Joseph Fisch’s call to beef up his office.

First girlfriend Sandra Lee got some tips from the wives (and exes) of NY chief executives, past and present.

The Southern Tier is very concerned about who Cuomo will pick to run the DEC.

Mayor Bloomberg’s daughter, Georgina, is having a streak of bad luck.

Rep. Charlie Rangel used PAC cash to pay legal bills – a move one expert called a “breach of congressional ethics.”

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Weekend Open Thread

The elections are a thing of the past, but the fun is just beginning. From Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo’s transition to Rep Charlie Rangel’s ethics trial, scheduled to start Monday and everything in between, there is much to discuss.


YNN’s Bill Carey reports from NY-25: “Cayuga County absentee count is done. A number of challenges are pending… But Ann Marie Buerkle’s lead over Rep. Dan Maffei is now 711 votes.” (No link).

Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo declined to comment on Assemblyman Vito Lopez’s nonprofit.

As a “taxpayer,” Diana Taylor thinks her longtime companion, Mayor Bloomberg, should “absolutely” run for president. But as a friend, well, that’s a “different story.”

Greetings from Miami, where I am semi on vacation.


The US Supreme Court issued an order allowing the Obama Administration to continue to enforce “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” while the Justice Department appeals a lower court ruling that found the policy is unconstitutional.

The McCain family is split on DADT.

Another Cathie Black detractor.

Mayor Bloomberg said people calling for Black’s SED waiver to be denied because she has no education experience “have no understanding of what the job is.”

City Room is trying to figure out who – if anyone – interviewed for the NYC schools chancellor gig.

Frank Mauro advised transit advocates to fight for an exemption from Cuomo’s spending cap.

The Assembly Republicans are convening Monday.

Westchester County Executive Rob Astornio will discuss his 2011 budget proposal next Tuesday on

The Senate Democrats still see a “path to victory.”

Cuomo said his reform platform will fare well no matter who controls the Senate because everyone ran on reform this year.

Matt Chaban deconstructs Wal-Mart’s latest NYC sales pitch.

There’s a fight underway over orientation of the incoming House GOP freshmen.

The TWU is suing Google in hopes of unmasking an anonymous blogger.

And Now, A Word From The Republicans

Here’s the Senate GOP’s version of what’s going on in those three cliffhanger races. In short, the Republicans feel confident that Jack Martins will “soundly” defeat Democratic Sen. Craig Johnson in Long Island’s 7th SD, “ensuring” the return of the majority to their hands.

- 7th SD: Yesterday, following the counting of absentee ballots in the heavily-Democratic 13th AD Craig Johnson narrowed Jack Martins’ lead from 489 votes to 427 votes.

“Democrats chose to count this district first since they knew it would be favorable to their candidate,” the Senate GOP maintains. “The fact that Johnson only picked up 62 votes, ensures that Jack Martins will win this race by hundreds of votes.”

Today, election workers are counting absentee ballots in the 16th AD, the Democrat base in the district. With approximately 270 more absentee ballots sent in by registered Democrats than registered Republicans, and 200 from unaffiliated voters, Johnson should lead Martins by hundreds of votes at the end of the day.

Next week, election workers will count absentee and affidavit ballots from the portion of district that overlaps with the 17th and 21st ADs.

This is both the Republican base of the district and, geographically, Martins’ base. With hundreds more absentee ballots filed by Republicans than Democrats in ADs 17 and 21, the Republicans feel confident Martins will end up defeating Johnson by a comfortable margin.

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