Lee Too Busy For Politics

AG Andrew Cuomo’s live-in significant other, Food Network Star Sandra Lee, has been keeping a low political profile since her debut this past spring at Cuomo’s campaign kick-off and Democratic convention coronation.

In the wake of the convention, Lee chatted with NY1′s Grace Rauh, saying her role in the campaign – if there was to be one at all – was still up in the air, explaining: “My magazine, we’ll be shooting that, right after we shoot Semi-Homemade, and I’ve got to shoot four book covers in July. So, I’m a little busy. Plus, you know, we’ve got kids. We’ll be working.”

Some time in between then and now, a decision was made about Lee’s role. In a story about Cuomo’s three daughters, who accompanied him on his upstate RV tour, the WSJ reported last week that Lee “is not expected to be a significant presence on the campaign trail.”

And now comes this item from today’s Page Six:

Sandra Lee went solo to the “Eat Pray Love” premiere Tuesday night. Andrew Cuomo was dateless at Charlie Rangel’s 80th birthday the next night. But the couple of five years are still together. “And we’ll be together another 50,” the Food Network star recently told a friend.

There was speculation Cuomo’s handlers are trying to keep the glamorous California blonde in the background. But insiders say the lovebirds are just too busy to make public appearances together. Lee has three cookbooks coming out in the next year, and Cuomo has a full schedule as state attorney general and candidate for governor.

‘Same Old Charlie Rangel’

I spoke earlier today to Long Island Rep. Peter King for an interview that will air in full this evening on “Capital Tonight” during which he talked about his reaction to Rep. Charlie Rangel’s 37-minute speech on the House floor this past Tuesday.

Interestingly, King – the lone Republican member of the downstate House delegation – said Rangel had presided over a more than hour-long meeting on the Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act, (which, as you’ll recall, sparked that memorable exchange between King and Rep. Anthony Weiner), just before heading into the chamber for his big performance and didn’t let on once what was about to transpire.

“What struck me about it was probably about an hour later, he was up on the house floor giving the 37 minute speech, and I had no idea it was coming. None of us in the meeting did, and he didn’t at all seem preoccupied,” King told me.

“…Charlie was 100 percent into that meeting. He was setting up the order of recognition. He was cutting people off. He was keeping people in line. He sort of strolled up to the House floor. We had one vote, and the next thing I know Charlie’s at the microphone, you know, point of personal privilege that went on for 37 minutes.”

So, it has not effected him all physically. It hasn’t really effected him as far as his ability to work. Obviously, you say his clout has been diminished in the House. It has. But so far as his one-on-one force of personality in the room, it was the same old Charlie Rangel that I’ve known for over 20 years.”

Thompson For Schneiderman

Former NYC Comptroller and 2009 Democratic mayoral nominee Bill Thompson is throwing his support behind Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s AG bid today, calling him “the one candidate in this field who will truly represent all New Yorkers in the fight for equal justice.”

“I’ve seen Eric in action and have no doubt that he will continue his lifelong fight for criminal justice reform, for economic fairness and for progressive change as New York’s next people’s lawyer,” Thompson said in a statement released by the Schneiderman campaign.

“Whether it’s taking on the insurance industry or ending the Rockefeller Drug laws, Eric has shown true leadership and demonstrated that he will be an Attorney General we can be proud of.”

The release plays up the fact that Thompson was the first African American to hold his former citywide post and grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, became the youngest Brooklyn deputy BP and later served as president of the (now defunct) Board of Education.

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HTC Mails For ‘Champion’ Schneiderman

The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, which endorsed Sen. Eric Schneiderman for AG back in July, has dropped its first mailer on his behalf, which paints him as a staunch labor ally who “stood up to Albany politicians” to help HTC members get a good deal in connection with the Aqueduct racino.

Other than the fact that Schneiderman IS himself an Albany politician, which makes that line ring a little oddly, this is a fairly standard piece of lit. It’s being sent to the homes of every HTC member and retiree – including family members.

In the end, roughly 80,000 New Yorkers will see it.

That’s a big deal. As I’ve written so many times before, the five-way Democratic AG primary is going to come down to a question of GOTV because turnout is expected to be low due to the lack of top-of-the-ballot competition to draw voters to the polls.

The exception might be in certain key congressional races – the 15th, where Rep. Charlie Rangel is fighting for his political life, for example; and the 14th, where Rep. Carolyn Maloney is facing off against newcomer Reshma Saujani.

The other head-to-heads slated for Sept. 14 are on the GOP side, which isn’t going to help any of the Dem AG contenders.

Since the Working Families Party is sitting out the AG primary, the individual unions are taking on a more significant role in the GOTV effort. HTC and SEIU/1199 (which has already mailed in this race) have large political operations, and both of them are on Schneiderman’s side, as is 32BJ.

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Brodsky Sees The ‘Ghost Of Eliot Spitzer’

Assemblyman Richard Brodsky, who has never been shy about defending the legislative branch and its need to maintain independence from the executive, told me on “Capital Tonight” yesterday that the attempt by a certain would-be governor to out-macho the Legislature doesn’t bode well for the next budget battle.

Brodsky declined to respond directly to AG Andrew Cuomo’s latest ad that slams Albany, calling it a dysfunctional “mess”, noting that since he’s running to (he hopes) replace Cuomo as the state’s top attorney, he won’t be around in the Assembly any longer to fight the next round of the governor vs. Legislature war.

However, Brodsky did stress the need for all sides to be “cooperative” and work in a “collaborative” manner, or risk the kind of deadlock of the sort that was seen when former Gov. Eliot “Steamroller” Spitzer was in office.

“Enough of the conflict for the sake of conflict,” Brodsky said (right at the very end of the clip that appears below). “Enough of the posturing that says: I’m the toughest guy, and I’ll beat the, the…stuffing out of the people I disagree with.”

“That doesn’t work. The ghost of Eliot Spitzer walks the halls of Albany, and if we’re not careful we’ll engage all of us – not just Andrew – in a repeat of a failed effort at reform when we need reform desperately.”

Brodsky also said that the Legislature doesn’t need a “best friend”, either. But rather someone who is willing to see state lawmakers as equals.

Paladino Picks Up Another GOP Chair

Republican Gubernatorial Candidate Carl Paladino wasn’t kidding earlier this week when, after picking up the endorsement from Genesee County Chair Richard Siebert, he hinted that more GOP County Chairs would be backing him in the near future.

Today, he picked up the support of a 3rd chair. Cayuga County Chairwoman Cherl Heary announced she is supporting Paladino’s run for Governor.

“Republicans who want lasting change need to vote for Carl Paladino on September 14th because he has the energy, passion and ability to make Albany work for the people once again,” Heary said in a press release.

Heary backed M. Myers Mermel at the GOP convention.

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Here And Now

The Post saw Rep. Charlie Rangel’s party of a test of AG Andrew Cuomo’s claim to be a “serious corruption-fighter,” but since he attended along with most fellow Democrats, “alas, he failed.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer didn’t want to talk about Rangel’s party.

Rangel said he “can’t find a better way” to express his feelings than former NYC Mayor David Dinkins’ one-finger salute to protestors outside the congressman’s birthday fundraiser.

The congressman insists he’s done talking about the 13 ethics charges he faces and is focused on his re-election campaign.

Cuomo’s campaign insisted the release of his ad focusing on cleaning up Albany the day after Rangel’s party was merely coincidental.

David Johnson’s arrest was one of two new developments in his case. The FBI is now reportedly investigating the unauthorized access by someone at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center of Booker’s medical records.

The governor’s office confirmed DJ remains suspended without pay, and had no further comment on his arrest.

Dan Janison says the governor’s “long goodbye…reached another bleak stage” yesterday.

The roots of Mayor Bloomberg’s defense of the mosque proposed for construction near Ground Zero run deep and are deeply personal.

“We are open to a conversation to find out more on what the governor has in mind,” sponsors of the mosque said in a Tweet.

Bloomberg says he’s disappointed the NYC Charter Revision Commission “didn’t have the stomach” to address nonpartisan elections, and he won’t spend any personal cash campaigning on the term limits question.

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Extras

Rep. Charlie Rangel officially launched his re-election campaign, saying: “I have to get back to work.”

“What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas – what happens on the House floor stays on the House floor,” said Rangel, declining to revisit his speech earlier this week.

…he did have a few choice words for reporters, and also answered President Obama.

Storybook pigs Toot and Puddle joined Rangel while he read to children at an UWS community center.

It’s all about David Dinkins and his finger.

David Johnson turned himself in on misdemeanor assault charges, was arraigned and then released on his own recognizance.

The CPI scheduled a public hearing on the Yankees tickets mess involving the governor and Johnson.

Gay marriage is on hold in California, despite the overturning of Prop. 8 last week.

The Brady Campaign to End Gun Violence endorsed Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, whose record on gun control was an issue soon after her appointment.

Former NYC Comptroller Bill Thompson says he’s not interested in a position in the Cuomo administration, should the AG be elected governor.

PEF endorsed state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

A special referee called the challenge to Gustavo Rivera’s petitions by Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr. “frivoulous.”

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli talked finances with The Jewish Week’s Adam Dickter.

GOP Sen. Chuck Fuschillo joined the governor at a press conference to announce a new provision of Leandra’s Law taking effect Sunday.

I may be dumb, but I’m not stupid.”

Assemblyman Jeff Aubry’s first mailer is out.

Does David Malpass have a copyright violation problem?

DC9 IUPAT endorsed Basil Smikle against Sen. Bill Perkins. (No link).

NYCLU made a video of the West Point cadet who left to attend Yale because of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

The Paladino campaign does not employ Kaiser Souzai.

Two Rangel-related videos in one day from Team Lazio. Here’s the second:

The David Johnson Complaint

..is below.

He was arrested on a six-count criminal complaint that alleges he threatened to kill his then-girlfriend, Sherr-una Booker last Halloween.

“Defendant grabbed deponent on her neck with both hands and squeezed her neck, lifting her body off of the floor,” the complaint states “She could not speak, and had difficult\[y\] breathing.”

“…During the defendant’s above-mentioned conduct, defendant stated in sum and substance: You’re not going anywhere. I’ll f—— kill you before I let you go anywhere.”

Criminal Complaint – David Johnson

Foley Targeted From Outside NY

Sen. Brian Foley, a freshman Democrat from Long Island and one of the top GOP targets this fall, is the subject of a mail campaign from a Virginia-based outfit called Common Sense Principles.

The mailer appeared on “FoleyWatch.com” – an anti-Foley Website. It slams the senator for voting “yes” on the budget that is “loaded with tax hikes and wasteful spending” and then going on a “paid summer vacation.” It highlights some of the more outrageous member items of the past (everyone’s favorite cheese museum makes an appearance).

Recall that even though Gov. David Paterson vetoed some $190 million worth of pork-barrel spending from the 2010-2011 budget passed by the Legislature, member item funding continues to flow from Albany and will do so until Sept. 15.

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