Tenney Won’t Discuss Campaign Memo

Rep. Claudia Tenney would not discuss on Thursday the controversial memorandum that warns campaign staff to be safe while at work and at home and criticizes the family of her Democratic opponent Anthony Brindisi as “criminal” and “thuggish.”

Tenney was speaking at an unrelated event in Oriskany Falls and did not want to speak off topic, she said.

“We’re not going off topic because we want Oriskany to get the full benefit,” she said. “So thank you.”

Tenney noted her campaign manager had spoken on camera about the memo and insisted she hasn’t seen any news stories about the controversy.

“I didn’t write the memo,” she said while pulling off the microphone clipped to her jacket. “I’m not going to speak on behalf of the memo.”

The memo, written by a Tenney campaign consulted, references the criminal history of Brindisi’s father and brother while also urging campaign workers to lock their doors at night.

“My father is not on the ballot in November. Her father is not on the ballot in November. My name and Claudia Tenney’s name are on the ballot in November,” Brindisi said in an interview with Spectrum News.

“And people are going to look at my record, one of working with both sides of the aisle to get things done, someone who has stood up against my party when I think they’re wrong, and someone who has really delivered results for this region.”

Brindisi’s campaign on Wednesday released a fundraising email highlighting the memo controversy.

Tenney is running for a second term in the 22nd congressional district against Brindisi in what is considered one of the top-tier House races in the state this year.

Biz Council Releases Scorecard

Republicans in the state Assembly may be a long way from gaining power in the Democratic-dominated chamber, but they one thing in Albany they do control is the Business Council’s 2018 legislative scorecard.

The organization on Thursday released its ranking of votes and lawmakers, with 23 of the top 25 lawmakers on the list being members of the Assembly GOP.

Among the Senate Republicans, who hold a narrow majority in the upper house, all 32 members of the GOP conference scored above 50 percent, with most scoring more than 75 percent.

The scorecard assessed a half dozen votes in the Senate and 23 floor votes in the Assembly.

The Senate bills included several budget-related spending packages, including workers’ compensation reform and the extension of nearly $5 billion in HCRA taxes in 2018. The scorecard also assessed votes that sought to decouple the federal tax law changes from the state tax structure and regulatory reform.

In the Assembly, the organization reviewed votes concerning new mandates as well as the single-payer health care bill, which the Business Council opposes.

“This bi-annual scorecard contains familiar results,” said Heather Briccetti, the president and CEO of The Business Council of New York State, Inc. “Votes by the Senate and Assembly Republicans clearly demonstrate they are the most pro-growth, pro-jobs conferences. Interestingly, members of the Senate Democratic conference and the former IDC also scored relatively well, with bipartisan support shown for a number of our priority issues.”

Before Percoco Is Sentenced, Cuomo Attacks Molinaro

Hours before his former close aide and confidant is sentenced to prison for his role in a bribery scandal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign released a six-figure TV ad Thursday linking Republican opponent Marc Molinaro to pay-to-play politics.

The ad reignites criticism of Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, over his wife receiving a job with a company that had received tax breaks and contracts from the county government.

Molinaro has blasted Cuomo in the past for bringing his wife into campaign politics and the ad released Thursday avoids directly mentioning her, referring only to a “member of Molinaro’s family.”

“Molinaro profits. Taxpayers pay,” the ad’s narrator says. “You can’t clean up government with dirty hands.”

In an apparent pile, the state Democratic Committee Chairman Byron Brown called for an investigation.

Molinaro has sought to make the parade of corruption scandals in state government one of the central focuses of his campaign, including those that have touched Cuomo’s inner circle. He’s dubbed his latest swing around the state a “Cuomo Corruption” tour as he seeks to raise the issue that, during the Democratic primary, appeared to have little resonance with voters.

Percoco, a longtime aide to the governor, was convicted of bribery and fraud connected to a company that had sought state assistance in building a power plant. In Percoco’s case, prosecutors asserted his wife received a low-show job from the company.

In a related case, the former president of SUNY Polytechnic and prominent developers in upstate New York were convicted of rigging bids as part of the Buffalo Billion, Cuomo’s signature economic development program for western New York.

Cuomo has not been accused of any wrongdoing.

Nevertheless, Molinaro has pressed issue, hoping New Yorkers will find ways of connecting the dots.

“This governor has emboldened and benefited from pay to play politics, a corruption that is corrosive,” Molinaro said during a stop in Syracuse on Thursday. “He doesn’t seem to learn and he doesn’t seem to know the difference between right and wrong.”

Gaughran Endorsed By Child Victims Act Backer, Gun Control Group

Democratic state Senate candidate Jim Gaughran on Thursday picked up the endorsements of Long Islanders Against Gun Violence and Gary Greenberg, an upstate businessman who is one of the prominent supporters of the Child Victims Act.

Gaughran, running for the Long Island district represented by Republican Sen. Car Marcellino, pledged to push both issues if elected.

The Child Victims Act is meant to make it easier for the survivors and victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits. The measure has stalled in the Republican-led state Senate.

Lawmakers earlier this year approved the first gun control legislation since the SAFE Act in 2013, a measure that blocks those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a firearm.

Gaughran says he wants to go further, drawing in more misdemeanor sex crimes that would prohibit a person from owning a gun.

“How can anyone oppose protecting children and keeping dangerous sex crime offenders away from our communities and unable to purchase guns,” Gaughran said. “My proposals would ensure that anyone on the state’s sex offender registry would be blocked from owning firearms and would have to vote by absentee ballot to keep them away from our schools and families who go to polling places. These are common sense plans that should have been enacted a long time ago, and I will fight for them to be passed into law when I am elected to the State Senate.”

Forbes Fundraises For Basile

Basile - Forbes Invite Business and Republican former presidential candidate Steve Forbes will headline a Sept. 28 fundraiser for GOP state Senate candidate Tom Basile.

Tickets to the event range from $250 to $5,000 in New York City.

Basile, a former executive director of the state Republican Committee, is running for the Hudson Valley Senate district being vacated by retiring Sen. Bill Larkin.

The district is one of several battleground races facing Republicans this fall in their effort to hold their narrow majority in the chamber.

Basile faces Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis.

Basile has been lining up the support of prominent New York Republicans for his campaign, with events being hosted by former Rep. Chris Gibson this week and ex-White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer earlier in the summer.

Cuomo Camp Bolsters Defense Of SAFE Act

From the Morning Memo:

The SAFE Act’s passage in 2013 eroded support for Gov. Andrew Cuomo in upstate New York and among Republicans who had generally approved of his fiscal record.

But more than five years after the measure’s passage, Cuomo has repeatedly pointed to the law as virtually prescient given the continued spate of mass shootings in the nation — making the law one the Democratic governor is happy to defend.

Republican Marc Molinaro this week in Utica told an audience he would scale back the measure, leading the Cuomo campaign to pounce.

“We knew that Trump mini-me Marc Molinaro is an NRA puppet, we just didn’t think he’d be so brazen about it,” said Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Collins.

“After a long career opposing common sense gun safety reform, ‘A’ rated Molinaro has made rolling back the toughest and smartest gun legislation in the nation – the SAFE Act – part of his campaign platform, threatening just yesterday to dismantle it piece by piece. At a time when people of all ages across this country are crying out for increased gun safety measures, this latest move proves Trump mini-me Molinaro is in the iron grip of the gun lobby. His position is disturbing and dangerous, and the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers will remember Molinaro in their thoughts and prayers when he loses this election by a landslide.”

The Trump nickname aside (Molinaro did not vote for the president, writing in Rep. Chris Gibson), the Cuomo campaign continues to see the issue as a winning one for him.

Gun control remains popular among voters — both Democratic, independents and even some Republicans — in the New York City region, including the battleground suburbs.

Cuomo has railed against the Republican-led Congress on the issue while also prodding Democrats in Washington to act on it as well.

There have been problems associated with the measure, including the creation of an ammunition database that is yet to be developed amid technology limitations and an agreement not to pursue it struck with Republicans in the state Senate.

Nevertheless, Cuomo isn’t treating the SAFE Act as a lightning rod: He’s held up the package of measures as an example of what could be done in a state that has vast rural areas of gun owners. He’s gleefully mocked and criticized the National Rifle Association as well as he’s locked in a legal battle over whether to allow a form of their liability insurance in the state.

And the issue has rippled across the Democratic base, turning students and parents into activists on the local level who have endorsed Cuomo’s re-election bid at the same time.

State lawmakers and Cuomo agreed earlier this year to a measure that would block those convicted of misdemeanor domestic violence from possessing a firearm, the first piece of gun control legislation since the SAFE Act’s 2013 approval.

Cuomo TV Ad Blasts Molinaro as ‘Trump Mini-Me’

From the Morning Memo:

It’s no secret that President Trump is the Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s favorite punching bag and scapegoat for any and all problems plaguing New York.

Since winning the Democratic primary last week, Cuomo has continued to focus mainly on Trump, and also is stepping up his effort to link his general election opponent, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, to the president, who is deeply unpopular here in his home state.

In a new ad released yesterday by Team Cuomo, Molinaro is branded as Trump’s “mini-me” – a moniker the governor’s campaign has been employing for some time now.

The ad brands Molinaro as opposed to abortion rights, an assault weapons ban, affordable healthcare, and marriage equality. It also says he voted against equal pay while serving in the state Assembly and supported the federal government’s 2017 Tax and Jobs Act.

The tagline:

“A Trump mini me for governor? No way, no how.”

Molinaro has sought to explicitly run as a Trump opposite in both temperament and personality. Molinaro has noted repeatedly he did not vote for Trump in 2016, writing in Rep. Chris Gibson that year instead.

Prior to his significant win against his primary opponent, actree-turned-activist Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo and his campaign paid little attention to Molinaro, who is vastly underfund compared to the governor, and also is running an uphill battle in a Democrat-dominated, largely anti-Trump state.

Molinaro, meanwhile, is trying to capitalize on free media and has launched a so-called “Cuomo Corruption Tour.” He continues to hammer away at Cuomo’s alleged ties to Albany corruption – particularly the conviction on federal corruption charges of former top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco, who is scheduled to be sentenced today.

It remains to be seen whether this line of argument holds weight with voters, as a June Siena poll showed Cuomo has a nearly 20 percentage point lead over Molinaro.

“Andrew Cuomo’s corruption is eroding all public trust in government, and that cannot stand,” Molinaro said. “His administration acts like a corrupt enterprise operating beyond all bounds of normalcy and under strict and willful secrecy. Even his so-called ethics commission, JCOPE, appears to be inside the Cuomo cabal. We must find a way to get at the truth, and this bill will do it.”

In a statement released yesterday, referencing gun control comments Molinaro made at a campaign stop in Utica, Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Collins said:

“We knew that Trump mini-me Marc Molinaro is an NRA puppet, we just didn’t think he’d be so brazen about it. After a long career opposing common sense gun safety reform, ‘A’ rated Molinaro has made rolling back the toughest and smartest gun legislation in the nation – the SAFE Act – part of his campaign platform, threatening just yesterday to dismantle it piece by piece.”

“At a time when people of all ages across this country are crying out for increased gun safety measures, this latest move proves Trump mini-me Molinaro is in the iron grip of the gun lobby. His position is disturbing and dangerous, and the overwhelming majority of New Yorkers will remember Molinaro in their thoughts and prayers when he loses this election by a landslide.”

Molinaro has reiterated on multiple occasions that he did not cast a ballot for Trump in the 2016 election, instead writing in the name of former Rep. Chris Gibson from NY-19.

Also while in Utica, Molinaro picked up the endorsement of Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente, a fellow Republican, who in the past crossed party lines to endorse Cuomo for re-election.

Eleanor’s Legacy Backs Strong With Digital Ad

From the Morning Memo:

Eleanor’s Legacy is backing Democratic state Senate candidate Pat Strong with a digital ad that highlights her background as a small business owner and support for the environment.

“Protecting the environment is critical to our region’s long-term economic prosperity and high quality of life,” Strong said.

“The fight against climate change is creating and maintaining good jobs in Upstate New York, and I thank Eleanor’s Legacy for highlighting this major issue.”

Strong is running for the Senate district represented by Republican George Amedore, a seat that has fallen into Democratic hands once before, but has been generally considered safe for the GOP in recent cycles.

“Pat Strong is the leader we need in Albany,” said Brette McSweeney, the group’s executive director.

“She is a successful business owner with a vision of a vibrant upstate New York, where communities grow with good-paying jobs and our natural resources are resilient to climate change and pollution. To preserve and protect the best that Upstate has to offer, it’s critical that we elect Pat Strong to the New York State Senate.”

Basile Endorsed by Orange County Legislator

From the Morning Memo:

Orange County Legislator John Vero endorsed Republican Tom Basile in his bid for retiring GOP Sen. Bill Larkin’s seat in the 39th District – a key battleground in the ongoing fight for the majority.

Vero, a Republican, represents County District 10, which includes the town and village of Chester as well as parts of Warwick.

“Tom Basile has a plan that will encourage our local governments to be pro-active in ensuring that development takes place in a sustainable manner,” Vero said.

“His foresight and willingness to put forward substantive proposals that assist our communities with important issues is why I’m proud to support Tom to be our senator.”

The seat is one Democrats hope to flip this November, and also is one of five positions that are opening due to GOP retirements. Democratic voter enrollment in the district leans Republicans, and a sizable portion of so-called “blanks” – voters unaffiliated with any political party – exists as well.

Basile is a Stony Point councilman and former state GOP executive director, who also worked in former President George W. Bush’s administration. He faces a challenge from three-term Democratic Assemblyman James Skoufis.

Struggling Niagara Falls Considers Hefty Garbage Fee

From the Morning Memo:

Niagara Falls continues to struggle with the loss of roughly $20 million annually from the Seneca Nation in casino revenue.

The city has already scaled back its budget, but now it’s proposing to make up some of the shortfall from its citizens pockets, charging as much as $200 per household in garbage fees.

The plan under consideration by the City Council would be included in the mayor’s Oct. 1 budget proposal. City leaders said it’s not something they want to do, necessarily, but is an alternative to cutting back on public safety.

“We understand the plight; we have to make some tough decision,” Council Chair Andrew Touma said. “I’m gonna do what’s best for my city.”

A group of protesters gathered last night outside City Hall to express their displeasure with the proposal.

“I’m asking them to cut the fat of City Hall before you come to our door asking for money,” protester Terri Kline said.

The Senecas have not made payments as part of revenue sharing agreement with the state since last spring. They say they have fulfilled their obligation under a 2002 compact.

The state disagrees, and the dispute is currently in an arbitration process, which is moving very slowly. The Senecas have offered to negotiate separately with Niagara Falls, Buffalo, and Salamanca where their casinos operate, but so far the cities have declined to engage, deferring to the state.

Last week, Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster suggested during a 9/11 remembrance ceremony that the nation’s refusal to make payments is putting firefighters and police officers at risk.