Hochul Presses Williams on Campaign Finance Disclosure

Airs of impatience wafted through the lieutenant governor’s race Wednesday morning.

Beginning at 10:44 a.m., the Hochul campaign issued four emails pressing opponent New York City councilman Jumanne Williams to release a copy of his campaign finances, posing a “friendly reminder” to the Brooklyn Democrat. The emails state Williams is not only two days behind Board of Elections’ July 16th filing deadline, but claims he “did not take the filing deadline seriously.”

This is the second day the Hochul campaign has called on Williams to release his campaign filings.

The emails speculate, “What exactly is the councilman hiding? Do the rules apply to him?” before a follow-up poses a possible solution to Williams’ disclosure report predicament. The fourth email, sent at 12:31 p.m., includes an attachment received by the Hochul campaign from the BOE reminding candidates that even though they may have submitted a report, it is to verify receipt and accuracy of the report itself. There lies the rub.


CT Hochul williams campaign finance 071818

10:44 a.m.


“Councilman Williams’ campaign financial disclosure is nowhere to be found, yet we are two days past the filing deadline. Voters continue to be left in the dark on how much the Councilman has raised and who exactly is supporting his campaign. Timeliness around a deadline and transparency have always been a priority for our campaign. We can factually say that hasn’t been the case thus far for the Councilman.

Councilman, please let us know when you’re able to get around to disclosing your report. I guess better late than never? The voters are waiting.”


11:45 a.m.


“After two days and multiple requests for comment on why there was no campaign financial disclosure filed for Councilman Williams, the Councilman’s campaign belatedly and vaguely conveyed approximate top line numbers instead of releasing the report that was allegedly submitted to the Board of Elections. What exactly is the Councilman hiding? Do the rules not apply to him? Release the copy of the report you sent to BOE. The voters deserve to know.”


12:23 a.m.


“The following email was received by the Hochul campaign from the Board of Elections after our financial disclosure was submitted (on time):

This email could not be clearer: “It is your responsibility to verify RECEIPT and ACCURACY of your report.” Councilman Williams did not take this filing deadline seriously. What exactly is the Councilman hiding? Do the rules not apply to him? Release the copy of the report you sent to BOE. The voters deserve to know.”


12:31 a.m.

**Updated with attachment of screenshot in release**



“The following email was received by the Hochul campaign from the Board of Elections after our financial disclosure was submitted (on time):

This email could not be clearer: “It is your responsibility to verify RECEIPT and ACCURACY of your report.” Councilman Williams did not take this filing deadline seriously. What exactly is the Councilman hiding? Do the rules not apply to him? Release the copy of the report you sent to BOE. The voters deserve to know.”

The Hochul campaign submitted their report to the BOE on time, having filed under Friends for Kathy Hochul, totaling over $1.24 million cash on hand. With less than two months until primary elections on September 13, Hochul is keen on defeating her opponent, releasing a campaign ad criticizing Williams’ LGBTQ and women’s rights record. She’s received a number of notable endorsements, both on her own and via a Cuomo-Hochul ticket, but as she faces a primary, Hochul is running separately from Governor Cuomo.


Jumaane Williams’ campaign clarified that their financial disclosure report was filed on time, as per the Board of Elections’ Monday, July 16 deadline, but due to technical issues, a finalized report has yet to be released. The campaign is working with the BOE to rectify the problem.

“Our campaign’s financial disclosure report was filed on time Monday evening but there were technical issues that we are working with the Board of Elections to immediately address.”

The campaign maintains they’ve raised almost $200,000 and are confident going into the September primary.

“Our campaign has built strong momentum over the past several months thanks to our grassroots donor base, so we are very well positioned to win this September.”


Molinaro Supportive Of Pilot Program For Hydrofracking

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro on Wednesday said he would be supportive of a “limited, closely monitored” pilot program for hydrofracking in the state’s Southern Tier region.

“I think that the state needs to identify, map and protect water sources,” he said at a news conference in Albany outside the state Capitol. “We don’t do that statewide. I do believe that a closely monitored, DEC-watched, pilot in the Southern Tier is appropriate as suggested before the ban went into place.”

The controversial natural gas extraction process was banned by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration in 2015 after he won re-election to a second term. Cuomo had been criticized by environmental organizations and the energy industry alike for what had been a long-standing environmental review of hydrofracking.

Since then, Cuomo has been pushed to do more by environmental groups when it comes to blocking natural gas pipelines that are proposed to run through the state.

Molinaro, the Dutchess county executive, has been supportive of moratoriums on fracking as a state lawmaker, but said Wednesday that was meant to give local governments time to review the process and have a modicum of control.

“I think the process should produce an outcome, not have the governor say what the outcome is and make sure the process supports it,” he said.

Hevesi Becomes First Lawmaker To Endorse Nixon

Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi on Wednesday became the first state lawmaker to endorse Cynthia Nixon in her Democratic primary campaign over Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The endorsement was first reported by The Daily News.

“As a lifelong Democrat, I’m proud to endorse Cynthia Nixon for Governor. She’s someone we can trust and work with, she’s been a tireless advocate for better schools, and she cares about the people of New York State,” Hevesi said. “Governor Cuomo, on the other hand, constantly lies to the people of New York. He claims to be fiscally responsible while saddling our children and grandchildren with billions in debt. He consistently pushes policies that hurt vulnerable New Yorkers, the homeless, human trafficking victims, people on public assistance.”

In a statement, Nixon cited Hevesi’s work in combating homelessness and helping low-income families find affordable housing in his role as the Assembly’s housing committee chairman.

“Assemblymember Hevesi has spent decades fighting for New York’s tenants, victims of human trafficking, and low-income families and at-risk children,” she said. “He is a passionate champion of fighting for lower income families and making New York a fairer, more equitable state for everyone. I am honored to have his endorsement and look forward to working with him in the assembly as governor.”

The endorsement is fraught with Shakespearean family dynamics: As attorney general, Cuomo led the prosecution of Hevesi’s father, former Comptroller Alan Hevesi, who was convicted as part of a pay-to-play scandal that provided favorable access to invest in the state pension fund.

The younger Hevesi, a Queens Democrat, has been a sharp critic of Cuomo during his time as governor.

Hochul Says Trump Should Be Impeached

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul in a radio interview on Wednesday said President Donald Trump should be impeached for his comments made at a press conference this week with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“I think he should be impeached, absolutely, after what he did in Finland,” she said on WCNY’s The Capitol Pressroom.

She added it was important to help Democrats win key House races this fall in case there are impeachment proceedings against the president.

“If there are to be impeachment proceedings or any other measures taken we need to have a Democratic House of Representatives,” she said in the interview.

The comment is a break from what Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday when asked in a conference call if he thinks Trump should face impeachment or censure. Initially, Cuomo said that was up to the Republican-led Congress. Later in the call, Cuomo said Congress should consider whether the president committed an act of “treason.”

During the call, Cuomo’s Democratic primary rival Cynthia Nixon said Trump should face impeachment proceedings.

Trump at the conference indicated he accepted Putin’s denial that Russia sought to interfere with the election in 2016, disregarding the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community.

“Certainly individuals who have done far less have been dragged through the impeachment process,” Hochul said. “It was an appalling, appalling lack of courage, a betrayal of country and our values.”

Hochul, a former member of the House from western New York, is facing a Democratic primary on Sept. 13 against Jumaane Williams, a Brooklyn councilman.

Independence Party Endorses Basile For Senate

The state Independence Party on Wednesday endorsed Republican Tom Basile for the state Senate district being vacated by GOP Sen. Bill Larkin.

The endorsement of the party and securing its ballot line is helpful, given the push by Democrats to flip the district with Assemblyman James Skoufis.

“Our state faces challenges that don’t discriminate by political party,” said Party Chairman Frank MacKay. “That’s why it’s important that we have Senators willing to put people and common sense first and focus on the issues that matter to our families and economy. For decades Senator Larkin served the people of this district in a way that was fair and independent. He worked across the aisle to do the right thing. Tom Basile will represent this district the same way.”

The party has been criticized for its opaque platform and confusing it can sow among voters who believe they are registering as “independents” or blanks without party affiliation, but in reality have joined the Independence Party.

In a statement, Basile, a former official with the state Republican Committee, struck a non-partisan tone with the endorsement.

“More people view themselves as politically independent today because they lack confidence in the two-party system,” he said. “It is an honor to have endorsement of Chairman MacKay and the Independence Party. As Senator, I will be a voice in government for people who want greater independence from a corrupt state government that taxes and spends far too much for people to afford to live here. We’re all in this together. It doesn’t matter what your political affiliation or where you come from, you deserve to have the opportunity to make it in our area.”

Updated: Skoufis in a statement blasted the party and the process for its nomination.

“It’s a shame the Albany Independence Party bosses who feed at Senate Majority patronage jobs like pigs at a trough refuse to let the people be heard. No questionnaire. No interview. Our campaign even submitted nearly 800 signatures – 150 more than our opponent – clearly demonstrating who local Independence Party members prefer to run on their line,” he said.

“Most importantly, however, we are well-positioned to win in November with more ballot lines than our opponent, three times the funds on hand than our opponent, and a significant edge in on-the-ground support. In stark contrast to extremist Tom Basile, we look forward to delivering representation that this Senate District can be proud of.”

Rep. Reed Defends Trump During MSNBC Interview

Southern Tier Republican Tom Reed defended President Donald Trump during a sometimes contentious interview on MSNBC last night.

Host Katy Tur asked the congressman about the president walking back a comment earlier this week in which he apparently sided with Russian President Vladimir Putin over United States intelligence regarding foreign interference in the 2016 election. Trump said he misspoke but Reed pivoted, arguing the more important point is the distinction between Russian meddling, which he says the president has repeatedly recognized, and collusion.

“That’s why it’s time to get the show on the road and move this process forward on the investigation to say if there’s collusion, if there’s meddling, what is it. Let’s get the facts out to the American people and get this behind us so we can start solving the problems of America,” Reed said.

Tur pushed further, asking why Trump seems to have a hard time agreeing with his own intelligence agents. She pointed out even on the walk-back, he added a caveat that others could have also interfered in the 2016 election.

Reed agreed, saying there is ample evidence of computer hacking out of China and North Korea in order to attempt to influence elections.

“The issue of meddling in our elections is a real threat and it’s clear that Russia was part of it,” he said. “Now that doesn’t mean Russia is the only actor that engaged in that, not only in 2016 but before, and what we should do as a country is recognize the threats to our election process and make sure that they don’t happen going forward.”

The congressman said he believes there is value to the meetings between the American and Russian presidents and took exception to a question about whether Putin has something on Trump.

“Obviously Putin is not friend of America,” Reed said. “He is an adversary. He is an enemy and we should treat him as that, however we do have to recognize that Russia does have influence in the world as a super power with nuclear weapons that can influence areas like Syria, Iran, North Korea.”
The congressman’s Democratic challenger this fall was critical of Reed’s “weak” responses and “playground language. ”

“Neither Reed nor the president takes cyberattacks seriously, because neither Reed nor the president understands them. As a cybersecurity expert, I am certain that 21st-century warfare will be cyberwarefare,” Tracy Mitrano said.

She says the 2016 hacking will be just the first skirmish and believes more needs to be done to fortify American from the attacks.

Most Voters Undecided In AG Primary Race

The race for the Democratic nomination for attorney general appears to be wide open, according to a Quinnipiac University poll on Tuesday.

The poll found 42 percent of Democratic voters polled are undecided in the four-way race for the nod.

The leading candidate at the moment is New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who received 26 percent of support in the poll. She was followed by Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney at 15 percent, Zephyr Teachout at 12 percent and Leecia Eve at 3 percent.

James has received the backing of most of the Democratic Party establishment in New York, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Teachout has sought to mine small-dollar donors, a practice she has used in her previous campaigns for governor and the House of Representatives.

Maloney, meanwhile, has able to raise the lion’s share of campaign funds.

The AG’s post was vacated in May after incumbent Eric Schneiderman resigned in disgrace amid allegations of domestic violence.

Q-Poll: Cuomo Widens Lead Over Nixon

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has widened his lead over his Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon, according to a poll released Wednesday by Quinnipiac University.

The poll found Cuomo leading Nixon 59 percent among 23 percent among Democratic voters, an uptick from a May 2 poll in which the incumbent governor lead Nixon 50 percent to 28 percent.

The poll is a survey of registered Democratic voters, not likely voters, ahead of a primary scheduled for Sept. 13, a Thursday. The primary was moved from its traditional Tuesday date due to the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks and the conclusion of Rosh Hashanah

The poll also comes after Cuomo reported a significant fundraising advantage over Nixon and has spent $1.7 million in advertising over the last six months, his campaign finance report made public this week found.

Still, Cuomo has weathered some difficult news in recent days, including the guilty verdicts of prominent upstate developers and the former president of SUNY Polytechnic in connect to bid rigging charges related to the governor’s economic development program for western New York.

At the same time, Nixon supporters have pointed to polling in the race of Democratic House candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez showing her losing to Rep. Joe Crowley before her surprise victory in the June primary.

But general election voters also give Cuomo a boost when it comes to the dint of his resume: They want someone with experience.

The poll found voters prefers someone with experience to become governor, 59 percent to 30 percent. Cuomo is seeking a third term.

In the general election match up, Cuomo receives 43 percent of the vote to Republican Marc Molinaro’s 23 percent and, should Nixon remain in the race as the Working Families Party candidate, she would receive 13 percent. Libertarian candidate Larry Sharpe, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins and independent Stephanie Miner are both under 4 percentage points.

Head-to-head with Molinaro, Cuomo defeats him 57 percent to 31 percent.

The poll of registered voters was conducted from July 12 through July 16 of 934 voters. It has a margin of error of 4.1 percentage points. Among Democrats, the margin of error is 6.2 percentage points.

Cuomo’s $31 Million War Chest Has Advantages And Pitfalls

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has the resources — money, staff, advertising — to show the fundamentals of his campaign are strong.

He’s raised $6 million in half a year, a pace of $1 million a month, and has spent heavily on TV ads, $1.7 million out of his campaign alone, not counting the advertising budget for the state Democratic Committee.

He’s helped fellow Democrats as well, sending money to state Senate candidates in competitive races in the New York City suburbs and his lieutenant governor, Kathy Hochul, as she seeks a third term.

His main competition — Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, independent candidate Stephanie Miner and Republican Marc Molinaro — all began their fundraising this year, giving him a huge advantage in the raising for this election cycle.

But Cuomo’s filing this week undergirded arguments being made by his opponents: He’s raising money from people who have business before state and the effort to raise money from small-dollar donors is being aided in part by family members of his staff.

Cuomo’s campaign has continued to insist large donations from major contributors don’t influence government actions.

Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, who have given $130,000 to Cuomo’s campaign this year, had their cryptocurrency approved by state regulators in May. But other donors have not been as successful: Tom Wilmot, another high-dollar Cuomo donor, did not receive any state assistance for his del Lago casino in the Finger Lakes as he’s sought.

Cuomo’s campaign also defended the small-dollar donor campaign, noting Nixon’s campaign also has received donations from contributors with personal connections to Nixon’s staff.

“We rolled out a new low dollar campaign to reach a wide variety of supporters and as part of that effort reached out to our network, just as Ms. Nixon’s campaign has dozens of contributions from her staff and their family members,” said Abbey Collins, a Cuomo campaign spokeswoman. “As the latest filing and poll numbers show, Cynthia’s campaign is on life support, which is why her lines are getting increasingly more combative and desperate.”

Cuomo’s campaign late Tuesday afternoon also announced some $534,000 in donations would be donated to causes like hurricane relief for Puerto Rico, groups that support reproductive rights and immigration services. The money was given by developers who were convicted last week of receiving rigged bids connected to Buffalo Billion economic development program.

The contributions themselves were not at issue in the trial.

The Nixon campaign scoffed at the move.

“Just days ago, the Governor ridiculously stated that the Buffalo Billion trial had ‘nothing to do with any campaign donations.’ It took 5 days of pressure from Cynthia Nixon and good government advocates like former US Attorney Preet Bharara for Cuomo to finally admit that the corruption trial had everything to do with his donations and finally return the money,” said Nixon spokeswoman Lauren Hitt.

“The question now is will the Governor return the $400,000 in donations from Crystal Run that are currently under FBI investigation? Or the $64,000 he took from Donald Trump? Or the thousands he took from the vulture funds that devastated Puerto Rico? Or the $800,000 he got from ICE’s landlords? To be fair, when you’re as bought and paid for by Republicans and corporate interests as Governor Cuomo, it’s hard to find where to draw the line.”

In a normal election year, Cuomo’s $31 million war chest would be another sign he’s in good shape to win a third term, alongside public polling that has him up by double-digits.

Blanketing the airwaves and social media ads can suffocate any rival campaign’s message. The year has the potential to be a wave year for Democrats and Cuomo has been pounding an unpopular Republican president.

And yet, the Nixon campaign continues to hold up the example of the upset victory in June of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez over Rep. Joe Crowley, where small-dollar grassroots campaigning prevailed over an incumbent with money and good poll numbers.

The difference that Nixon will have to demonstrate is winning such a primary on a statewide scale against a candidate who won’t be caught napping with less than a month to go.

Erie County Legislator Submits Pay-To-Play Plan

From the Morning Memo:

New York candidates for statewide office have already made the need to crack down on so-called “pay-to-play” a campaign issue this year, and it’s a safe bet that how to deal with that will continue to be debated through the November election.

In Western New York, Erie County Legislator Pat Burke has submitted his own plan for addressing a problem he insists is not an issue at the county government level, but is clearly an issue higher up the political food chain.

The Democrat is running for state Assembly, and clearly is interested in making pay-to-play a campaign issue of his own. He said he has been wanting to address campaign finance reform since becoming an elected official, and sees an opportunity while fundraising is making headlines to push the legislation forward because “public trust in government is at an all-time low.”

Burke’s legislation would limit the amount any elected official or candidate for county office could accept to $100 from any individual or entity entering into a contract with Erie County worth more than $5,000. 

“This is a small community, and influence is relegated to a few people,” Burke said. “So the money that those in power receive in campaign donations has to be transparent.”

This plans is similar to the recent proposal from GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro, which would ban any state contractor from making donations to elected officials.

Other components of Burke’s bill address increased transparency and reporting standards for government contractors and penalties for violations.