Lee’s Defense

Rep. Chris Lee spoke again about a House Office of Congressional Ethics probe into his fundraising activities that was first reported last week.

NOTE: Sorry. Bad information. This was not Lee’s first public statement on the matter. He has, in fact, given several interviews on the subject here, here and here.

Lee is one of eight lawmakers – five Republicans and three Democrats, including his fellow New Yorker, Queens Rep. Joe Crowley – on whom the OCE has requested campaign contribution information from Washington, D.C. lobbyists.

“We received a letter from the OCE,” Lee told reporters at a ground-breaking ceremony at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Base.

“…They are looking at 8 members who all held fundraisers within 72 hours of a vote. In my case, the complete Republican delegation voted against the issue.”

“But they want to look at, or audit, our fundraising records, which I have been fully compliant with,” the congressman continued. “I have given them all the information two weeks ago, and they promise within 30 days to have an answer for us. I completely believe in accountability and transparency. They’ve got to do their job. And I have fully complied, and look forward to their answer.”

5 p.m. Deadline For Extender Bills

Here’s a new twist to add still more drama to today’s extender bills votes.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s office says the 12th round of extenders must be passed and signed into law and the appropriations authorized all by 5 p.m. today or some 153,000 state employees won’t get their paychecks on time this week.

As you’ll recall, this week’s extenders included just one week’s worth of payroll appropriations in the hopes of upping the ante still further on lawmakers.

Some $270 million worth of checks are ready to go out the door, DiNapoli spokesman Dennis Tompkins informed NY1′s Erin Billups. But they can’t be processed until the extenders are signed by Paterson, chaptered by the counsel’s office and certified by the Budget Division.

The longer it takes the Legislature to pass the bills, Tompkins said, the later the checks will be.

No pressure or anything, guys and gals.

Disclosure Dance (Updated)

The state Democratic Party followed up the (semi) release of AG Andrew Cuomo’s financial disclosure via the Wall Street Journal by siccing Executive Director Charlie King on his GOP gubernatorial rivals.

During a tele-press conference this afternoon, King played the role of attack dog to the hilt and slammed gubernatorial hopefuls Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino, saying they are “stonewalling” by refusing to release information about their personal finances.

King wants the details about those earnings made public in unredacted filings posted on-line ASAP.

He said he’s learned through (undisclosed) sources that both Republican candidates have made millions over the last decade, pegging Lazio’s income over the last 10 years at around $8 million and Paladino’s net worth at about $150 million.

Official designees for statewide office who were put on the ballot at the major parties’ conventions are required by law to fill out financial disclosures forms and had to file them with the Commission on Public Integrity on either June 3 (for the Democrats) and June 10 (for the Republicans). 
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Cuomo Gets The Drug Question

AG Andrew Cuomo continued his series of non-campaign related press availabilities today, announcing a new initiative to crack down on child pornography.

The Democratic gubernatorial candidate discussed how his office has used “hash values” (basically a collection of numerical data from the internet) to help create a database of child pornography.

The use of the word “hash” piqued the interest of NY1′s Josh Robin, and he asked Cuomo if he has ever smoked hash. The AG laughed at what prompted the inquiry.

“What I have said. The question has come up before. What I have said, is I did experiment with marijuana when I was a youth,” Cuomo said.

“In no way do I suggest that any young people should do any experimentation whatsoever.”

The rest of the exchange went as follows:

JOSH: “That’s the only illicit drug?”

CUOMO: ‘Yes sir.”

(Recall that Gov. David Paterson admitted on live TV not long after he ascended in the wake of former Gov. Eliot Spitzer’s prostitution scandal that he did both cocaine and pot when he was in his 20s).

GOP Candidates Rick Lazio and Carl Paladino have yet to answer the question publicly, though I do not recall if they have ever been asked.

Arrest in Paladino Bomb Threat

Remember that bomb threat reportedly called into Carl Paladino’s Buffalo Ellicott Square office building in the wake of the gubernatorial candidate’s email scandal?  Well, today the Paladino camp announced an arrest in the hoax.

Campaign manager Michael Caputo released the following statement this afternoon:

“Today we were pleased to learn a New York City man was arrested in connection with the bomb threat phoned in to Carl Paladino’s campaign office April 13, 2010. The caller claimed to be a part of ‘a black militant group’ and said he was ‘going to bomb all of you.’”

Caputo says 63-year-old Miles Fisher has been charged by the US Attorney’s office in Buffalo and now faces five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.  Apparently, Fisher’s criminal history includes 37 arrests – some of them for violent crimes.

Publicizing this arrest lends credibility to the threat, which some questioned at the time it was reported.  However, it also serves to remind New Yorkers about that email scandal, in which dozens of racist and pornographic emails were forwarded from Paladino’s account.

Paladino is now in the process of gathering the signatures needed to petition his way onto the GOP ballot.  He is also seeking a third party line.

Indy Party And Cuomo Part Ways On ‘I And R’

Also from AG Andrew Cuomo’s Alan Chartock interview (as mentioned, it was a darn long interview) was a fascinating moment in which the Democratic gubernatorial hopeful panned initiative and referendum, which is a the signature issue of the state Independence Party’s platform.

Here’s what Cuomo said:

“Well, California makes the case, I believe, against initiative and referendum or it shows you the downside of initiative and referendum…They have a system that in many ways has paralyzed effective government process.”

Cuomo went on to note that the government consolidation bill he successfully pushed through the Legislature and saw signed into law by Gov. David Paterson last summer is “initiative and referendum on a micro level” because it allows citizens to petition to shut down obsolete government entities in an effort to cuts costs and (theoretically) reduce property taxes.
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Cuomo’s Budget Roadshow?

Here’s another interesting tidbit from AG Andrew Cuomo’s nearly hour-long interview with WAMC’s Alan Chartock this past weekend (I believe the most extended on-air interview to which the Democratic gubernatorial candidate has submitted to date)…

At about the 3:40-minute mark, Cuomo says the following about the budget process:

“The way it should work, in my opinion, is bringing the people in should be institutionalized. You should lay the groundwork first – dozens and dozens of town hall meetings and budget forums where you’re in local communities with the local legislators and it percolates up to Albany It percolates up to the three men in the room from the people up.”

That sounds to me like the Capitol press corps has a lot of traveling in its collective future should Cuomo become governor.

Cuomo’s comments came during a discussion with Chartock about Gov. David Paterson’s new tactic of putting pieces of his budget into extender bills and forcing the Legislature to choose between accepting his cuts and shutting down the government.

The AG was initially circumspect about this approach, calling it “desperate” yet “intriguing.” But he has since done an about-face and praised Paterson repeatedly, saying the governor is ending the comfortable “anonymity” of state lawmakers by making them go on the record about where they stand on thorny issues.

Cuomo also say the threat of a shutdown has “galvanized” the public and spurred more voter participation, although he continues to maintain that this process “on steroids” is perhaps not the best way to go.

Dems Slam Wilson’s Wall Street Ties

Republican state comptroller candidate Harry Wilson is in town today to highlight what his campaign calls the “fiscally reckless” pension fund borrowing scheme that is the “brainchild” of his Democratic target, state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

DiNapoli has insisted through a spokesman that he hasn’t yet signed off on what was initially reported as a tentative deal between legislative leaders, the governor and the comptroller, but the Times’ Danny Hakim noted the idea actually orginated with the comptroller’s office.

The task of defending DiNapoli has fallen to state Democratic Party Executive Director Charlie King, who put out a pre-press conference statement belittling Wilson as “Hedge Fund Harry” and slamming him for his ties to Wall Street.

Wilson has sought to spin his Wall Street experience as an asset despite widespread negative public opinion about the financial industry in the wall of multiple government-funded bailouts and bonus scandals.

Clearly, the Democrats aren’t going to let him do so unchallenged.

“Someone needs to tell Harry Wilson that, after Wall Street brought our economy to its knees, no New Yorker buys the idea that a flashy Wall Street résumé means you’re a prudent, long-term investor,” King said.

“Hedge Fund Harry needs to abandon his run-and-hide approach to campaigning: running on his self-proclaimed financial abilities, while hiding the details of his Wall Street past and personal fortune.”

“If he wants New Yorkers to trust him with their pensions, Hedge Fund Harry needs to come clean with New Yorkers about how he earned his fat paychecks, how he invests his own money, and how he performed when he was gambling with others people’s money,” King continued.

“Until then, New Yorkers have every right to ask ‘exactly who is Hedge Fund Harry?’ Don’t hedge, Harry. Come clean.”

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‘King Cuomo II’ Wades Into Lasagnagate

Radio host and performance art impresario Curtis Sliwa took his “King Cuomo II” act to the corner of Mulberry and Canal Street at the border of Little Italy yesterday and offered passersby free tastes of Sandra Lee’s cottage cheese/tomato soup lasagna.

He was accompanied by a woman playing the part of Lee and a man (I assume it was his producer, Frank Morano. UPDATE: I stand corrected. It’s not Morano; it’s a “young man” named Alex Lupa, Morano tells me) in chef’s whites. As per usual, Sliwa read aloud from a list of “decrees”, which appears in full after the jump.

” It looked horrible. It smelled horrible and it tasted horrible,” read an e-mail that accompanied the YouTube clip that appears below.

“People who identified themselves as New Yorkers or New Jerseyans wouldn’t even try it. We found three out-of-staters who LOVED IT and wanted more. A man from Virginia, a man and his daughter from Arizona and a man from Boston, MA.”

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Ravitch And Gov To Meet

LG Richard Ravitch is scheduled to meet in Albany this afternoon with Gov. David Paterson amid multiple reports in recent weeks that the relationship between the governor and his hand-picked No. 2 has been strained almost to a breaking point.

A Paterson administration source confirms the get-together is scheduled to take place at 12:30 p.m. and the LG is traveling from NYC, where he has been spending the bulk of his time, at the governor’s request.

Neither Ravitch nor Paterson has been shy about confirming they are at odds over the mulit-year borrowing/budget reform plan the LG proposed in March.
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