Kauffmann At CPI

Here’s someone we haven’t seen in a while.

Gov. David Paterson’s former Communications Director Peter Kauffmann, who quit in March after a Public Integrity Commission report made it clear the governor had not been truthful with his top staffer regarding the payment of tickets to a Yankees World Series game, showed up at the CPI to testify today and was swarmed by the very reporters he used to spin during his Capitol days.

Kauffmann didn’t say very much, telling the media he felt “every question about this that can be asked has been asked twice by the Public Integrity Commission,” adding: I came here today to testify truthfully, honestly, I think I’ve done that and I, really, I have nothing else to add.”

He refused to answer questions about whether he believes the governor lied – as the PIC report indicates – that he had always intended to pay for the tickets for his son and his son’s friend, something he did ex post facto.

Kauffmann did say that he had recommended the tickets be paid for up front, even though Paterson himself didn’t believe that was necessary, because he throught it “would have been a lot easier.”

The governor did not participate in today’s hearing (he’s in NYC with no public schedule). Paterson’s attorney said the PIC should hold off until after former Judge Judith Kaye weighs in on this matter, much like it did in the case of the David Johnson domestic violence scandal.

AG Donors Hedge Their Bets

Just how much of a toss-up is the race to replace AG Andrew Cuomo?

Well, consider this Excel spreadsheet compiled by NYPIRG’s Bill Mahoney that shows the number of donors who are giving to multiple candidates, with some even splitting their cash across party lines to give to one or more of the five Democratic AG contenders and also to the lone GOP candidate, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan.

This spreadsheet includes contributions made between Jan. 12 and Aug. 9 – the time reflected in the July and 32-day pre-primary filings.

All told, the candidates collectively raised a whopping $7,260,186 during that period. The amount given by donors who gave to more than one candidate is $774,000 – about 10 percent of the total.

Here’s a link to a spreadsheet on all of the pre-primary filings, including reports filed by gubernatorial hopefuls Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino.

Donors to Multiple AG Candidates

Duane For Schneiderman

Sen. Tom Duane, a Manhattan Democrat who was the first openly gay and (as far as I know) only HIV-positive member of the Senate, has thrown his support to his colleague, Sen. Eric Schneiderman, calling him “a true reformer and a tireless advocate for all New Yorkers.”

“From hate crimes legislation to civil rights and anti-illegal gun laws, to his steadfast leadership in the fight for marriage equality, Eric has distinguished himself as the single best candidate to serve New Yorkers as their lawyer,” Duane said in a statement released by Schneiderman’s campaign.

Duane is a late add to the list of senators backing Schneiderman. He is the lead sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill in the Senate (and took some heat last year after the measure failed to pass, since he had insisted all along that there would be sufficient support on the GOP side of the aisle to help push it over the top).

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Lasagnagate Redux

First Mother-in-waiting Matilda Cuomo was in the Spa City last night to host the Mental Health Foundation annual August Evening in Saratoga – an event she has co-chaired along with socialite/horsewoman Marylou Whitney for the past five years.

We had a YNN photog on the scene who asked Cuomo a question regarding a recent DN profile that cast the Democratic gubernatorial frontrunner, AG Andrew Cuomo, as a mamma’s boy, despite the fact that his relationship with his father as garnered a lot more attention over the years.

It appears Matilda Cuomo misheard the question, because she chose instead to revisit Lasagnagate – the dust-up she had with her son’s live-in significant other, Food Network star Sandra Lee, over Lee’s recipe for that Italian staple, which calls for cottage cheese and canned tomato soup.

“You know everybody has a cuisine. This is an interesting phenomenon. If you look at TV today, TV shows. Because they have never been bigger in having the chefs give their cuisine from other parts of the country.”

“And that lasagna happens to be very popular in the Midwest. See? Now, you come into the Tri-state area, you go Italian! The lasagna becomes Italian. But it’s all good. It’s what you’re used to.”

Hanna Mocks Change As He Changes His Mind

Not wasting any time, Republican Richard Hanna is out with another campaign ad – this one is called “Opportunity” and focuses on the importance of creating jobs.

Hanna is running against Democratic incumbent Rep. Michael Arcuri for the second time this year.  Arcuri just barely eked out a win in 2008.

His first ad was released Friday and offered voters in the 24th congressional district with a refresher course on the businessman’s background.

This 30 second spot takes a not-so-subtle dig at President Obama’s 2008 campaign message of change.

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Dems: Lazio’s ‘Shipwrecked’

The state Democratic Party is rather gleefully piling on the beleaguered campaign of GOP gubernatorial designee Rick Lazio in the wake of his loss earlier today of a group of erstwhile supporters in Niagara County to his primary opponent, Carl Paladino.

The Dems have a new Web video out that depicts Lazio’s campaign as a sinking ship in the middle of a storm at sea, noting he loaned his campaign $200,000 before the July 15 filing and now has just over $600,000 on hand.

The real point of the video is to note that Lazio’s former employer JP Morgan (he’s on an unpaid leave while he runs for governor) can, under a recent US Supreme Court ruling, spend a boatload of cash on ads that would help its onetime lobbyist if it so chooses.

I’ve seen no indication that JP Morgan has any intention of doing that, but that hasn’t stopped the Democrats from trying to make this an issue – if for nothing else than because it’s a handy way to keep linking the words “Lazio” and JP Morgan” in the mind of anyone who might be paying attention.

Paterson Trying To Meet With Mosque Developer

Apparently Gov. David Paterson hasn’t given up hope that he will someone be able to convince the people behind the controversial mosque proposed for construction near Ground Zero to reconsider their plans and build elsewhere.

The Washington Post’s Jason Horowitz reports, as per Rep. Peter King, who spoke with the governor this morning, that Paterson aims to meet later this week with the Islamic prayer leader and the developer, Sharif El-Gamal, later this week.

King’s comments might be a little premature. As of yet, there is no formally scheduled meeting, according to Paterson spokesman Morgan Hook.

“We are working with the developers on a staff level, but there have not been any formal discussions between the Governor and Imam or developer,” Hook told me.

“However, we expect to have a meeting scheduled in the near future.”

The developer has previously rejected the governor’s offer to help find an alternate site – even perhaps on state-owned land, although it appears he doesn’t have the power to make that happen (the whole church-and-state thing poses a problem).

El-Gamal also flat out denied a report in Haaretz yesterday that the mosque’s backers were thinking of bowing to pressure and relocating, in part due to an apparent walk-back of President Obama’s initially strong support.

The White House has insisted the president’s position on this didn’t change. But there’s clearly a lot of consternation behind the scenes on the part of Democrats as the Republicans seek to capitalize on mosque frenzy in advance of the midterm elections.

All He Needed To Know About Washington…

Democratic Rep. Scott Murphy, the Democratic incumbent in NY-20, is out with his first TV ad of the campaign season, which features his large extended family and a riff off the iconic Robert Fulghum book: “All I Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten.”

The ad emphasizes Murphy’s upstate roots in an effort to cast him as someone who’s still more of a Washington outsider, even though he has been in office since winning a squeaker of a special election last year for the seat vacated by now-Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.

Murphy eked out a victory against the-Assembly Minority Leader Jim Tedisco in a race that saw the stimulus package become a key issue (largely due to the Schenectady Republican’s refusal to say for a prolonged period whether he would have voted “yes” or “no”).

Murphy got some help last time from President Barack Obama, who was still very popular – even in the GOP-dominated district.

This time around, Murphy isn’t saying much about the president, although he did pay a special visit to the Oval Office back when his health care reform vote was still in question. (He voted “yes” and ended up with the WFP nod again as a result).

This fall, Murphy is facing a political newcomer on the GOP line, former Army Col. Chris Gibson, who managed to out-raise the incumbent congressman by about $120,000 in the last quarter, although Murphy still has considerably more cash on hand – $1.33 million to $453,000.

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Coffey Re-Airs ‘Justice’ (Updated)

Democratic Attorney General Candidate Sean Coffey is trying to fight fire with fire, going back up on the airwaves as his rival, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, launches her first ad of the campaign season.

UPDATE from Liz: To be clear, this ad, ‘Justice’, was first released by Coffey back in July and is being recycled. His campaign says he’ll be on the air through the Sept. 14 primary, although not necessarily with his specific spot.

By pumping some $3 million of his own cash into his AG campaign, Coffey has brought himself within about $1.2 million of Rice, who had $4.4 million on hand as of the 32-day pre-primary filing.

None of the remaining three Democratic AG contenders (or the GOP candidate, Staten Island DA Dan Donovan) has close to that in the bank, which is why they’re husbanding their resources and declining to jump into this air war.

Coffey’s ad takes a subtle shot at his four Democratic challengers, painting Coffey as the only non-politician in the race and saying: “New Yorkers don’t need another politician seeking office; we need an Attorney General seeking justice.”

Diaz Sr. Warns Against ‘Rookie’ Espada Opponent

Unsurprisingly, Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr. has come out with a strong endorsement of his former-nemesis-turned-current-amigo, Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., playing the Latino card by saying the embattled Bronx Democrat is “a fighter who has created jobs for our community and knows our needs as a people.”

The two senators have a long on-again, off-again history.

But since Espada’s most recent election to the Senate (in 2008 when he defeated then-Sen. Efrain Gonzalez in a primary), the two have been close allies, with Diaz Sr. emerging as the most outspoken defender of the controversial majority leader.

The duo represents the last vestige of the so-called amigos – a group that once also included now-expelled former Queens Sen. Hiram Monserrate and Brooklyn Sen. Carl Kruger, who has been keeping his distance of late.

During his endorsement announcement, at which Diaz Sr. was joined by the senator said (this is a loose translation from Spanish, compliments of Google translator) the community shouldn’t let a “rookie” newcomer take the Senate seat the Hispanic community worked so hard to win.

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