Monroe County Democratic Committee Donates $5,250 Connected To Bid-Rigging Scandal

The Monroe County Democratic Committee has donated more $5,250 in campaign contributions linked to a local bid-rigging scandal. The committee made the contributions in three installments over the last four months.

An off-cycle report from the committee, posted on the New York State Board of Elections website Wednesday, showed the committee made one $2,000 donation in March and another in April to the Child Care Council in Rochester. The committee provided a copy of its July report Wednesday, showing it made a third donation of $1,250 in July.

The Monroe County Republican Committee contended earlier in the day that what happened to the money in question was still a mystery because MCDC failed to file its mandatory campaign finance report. Democratic Chairwoman Jamie Romeo said that’s not the case.

Romeo said the committee submitted its off-cycle report at the beginning of May and the July report was in by July 14, a day before the deadline. The chairwoman said there was a clerical issue, and it was the Board of Elections’ decision not to post the report immediately.

GOP Chairman Bill Reilich still contended the money should’ve been given back to the county, not a charity.

“Given the fact that the county and its taxpayers were the ultimate victims of this bid-rigging scheme, it is only right that the Monroe County Democratic Committee return the $5,250 of criminally implicated funds to Monroe County and its taxpayers,” he said.

Earlier this year, his committee returned more than $90,000 dollars in contributions connected to the same scandal.

“Rather than be sent back to fill the budget deficit of the outgoing Brooks Administration, MCDC made concerted efforts to make sure this small sum would have a positive impact in our community. Working with the Child Care Council we know these funds will be spent on services to working families,” Romeo said.

Derrick’s 1st Ad: Trump Right, Stefanik Wrong on TPP (Updatedx2)

Mike Derrick, the Democrat seeking to unseat Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik in NY-21, is taking an unusual approach with his first TV ad of the campaign, aligning himself with newly-minted Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on the Trans Pacific Parternship.

“I don’t support Trump, but he’s right that we need to stop the job-killing TPP deal, and take on both parties in Washington,” Derrick, a retired U.S. Army colonel, says in the ad.

Stefanik crossed party lines back in 2015 to vote in favor of the TPA (edited, see below), putting her on the same side of the issue as President Obama, who now finds himself at odds with the woman who is seeking to replace him, presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

During the Democratic presidential primary, Clinton came under fire from her opponent, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, for her past support of trade deals -including the North America Free Trade Agreement under her husband’s administration – which have been blamed for job losses in key swing states like Ohio, (which, of course, is where the Republicans are holding their national convention this week).

Clinton subsequently came out strongly against the TPP, although it took her a while to get to that point, opening her up to criticism from opponents on both the left and the right.

It’s interesting that Derrick is choosing to say that he sides with Trump – not Clinton – on the TPP. He’s clearly trying to appeal to disaffected Republicans and independents with this approach. NY-21 is a closely divided district that has changed hands between the two major parties several times over the past few election cycles.

Derrick hasn’t exactly caught fire with his campaign, though he has some time yet. The Democrats fielded a very weak candidate against Stefanik in 2014, Aaron Woolf. She easily defeated him, but was also helped by a strong showing by the Green Party candidate, Matt Funiciello, who is running again this year.

No word from the Derrick campaign about the size of the buy for this ad or the duration of time it will air. Here’s the script in full:

“Narrator: “Who’s right? Donald Trump, who says kill the TPP trade agreement, or Elise Stefanik, who supports it?”

Mike Derrick: “I don’t support Trump, but he’s right that we need to stop the job-killing TPP deal, and take on both parties in Washington.”

“I’m Mike Derrick. I approve this message, and in the 28 years I served in the U.S. Army, no one asked if I was a Republican or Democrat. I put service first. Did what’s right. And that’s what I’ll do in Congress.”

UPDATE: Stefanik spokesman Lenny Alcivar emailed a response to Derrick’s ad, calling it a “false” attempt to “deceive voters about Elise’s strong, bipartisan record of results for the North Country.”

He noted that Stefanik has never supported TPP, but did back TPA – Trade Promotion Authority, commonly known as Fast Track – which would enable the Obama administration to negotiate trade agreements based on predetermined objectives and priorities. Approval of the TPA was seen as essential to finalizing the TPP, a proposed trade agreement between the United States and 12 other nations.

“(T)he news citations used to support Mike Derrick’s blatantly false claim are about TPA, not TPP,” Alcivar said. “Either Mike Derrick doesn’t know the difference between TPP and TPA, or he knowingly misrepresented her position because he has no new ideas of his own.”

As for Stefanik’s position on TPP, Alcivar said she has long said she’s “talking to stakeholders on both sides,” and is continuing to do so.

UPDATE2: Derrick’s campaign has released a statement in response to the Stefanik campaign statement, basically accusing her of either flip-flopping on this issue or at least trying to have it both ways, asking: “Why would she vote to fast track its approval if she doesn’t support it?”

Paladino Hopes For Upstate GOP Leadership

Will the next Republican chairman in New York come from upstate?

That is the hope of Buffalo businessman Carl Paladino, who told reporters on Wednesday in Cleveland he would like he next committee chairman to hail from closer to his neck of the woods.

“Generally, Republicans are from Long Island and upstate New York,” Paladino said. “But we have a leader from Manhattan. I think eventually we’re going to see  changes with the leadership, getting some leadership in the party from people who are more familiar with the values of upstate New York.”

Paladino insisted, however, that shouldn’t be him, though he has taken on an increasingly visible role in the state party apparatus after his run for governor in 2010 as the Republican nominee.

“I’m not a party leader,” he said.

Paladino made no mention of pushing for the ouster of Republican Chairman Ed Cox, but noted “at some point, Ed will move on and do other things.”

That will give upstate Republicans a chance to install one of their own.

An argument for a downstate chair of the party, however, is a big one for the GOP committee: Fundraising. An upstate chairman would likely have to have a network of donors they can point to who would help New York Republicans.

Onondaga County Chairman Tom Dadey earlier this year initially indicated he would run against Cox for the chairmanship, but dropped the bid before any voting took place.

“Our leadership has been questioned and I think there’s going to be a lot of changes in the state of New York,” he said.

Flanagan: ‘I Don’t Want To Assume Anything’ On 1199 Nod

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan in an interview on Wednesday said he isn’t taking for granted the support of 1199 SEIU amid reports the powerful labor group will back the GOP conference for continued control of the chamber.

“I don’t want to speak for 1199. They’re going to make independent determinations, they’re going to have their conventions and things of that nature,” said Flanagan, who is in Cleveland this week for the Republican National Convention. “So, I don’t want to assume anything. Any one of our members, myself included, we’re going to run on our record.”

The Times Union reported this week the labor union, which played a key role in pushing this year for boosting the minimum wage to $15, is preparing to back Republicans, who hold a narrow majority in the state Senate.

GOP incumbents are fending off challenges in battleground races in the suburbs as well as parts of upstate New York. Republicans are playing offense in a Westchester County race as well as in western New York.

Republicans ultimately backed the $15 wage plan in the budget, with the pay floor growing to that target in New York City and the suburban counties over the next several years.

Upstate, the wage grows to $12.50 and then is subject to a study of economic conditions.

Flanagan noted he’s worked well with 1199’s leadership in the past, but at the same time wants to continue courting additional labor groups.

“I’ve worked closely with George Gresham and Dennis Rivera and they are good people to deal with,” he said. “I’d love to have the opportunity to work with all people in labor, not just 1199. I think I’ve proven we can do that.”

Paladino Hopes For Depth From Pence

Republican businessman Carl Paladino wants “depth” from Indiana Gov. Mike Pence in his speech later tonight accepting the GOP nomination for vice president.

Paladino pointed to Pence’s record on economic development “using some taxpayer money” in the state, which he said has been a success.

“I’ve studied up on the guy,” Paladino said before the state GOP’s delegation breakfast. “I think we need more depth on issues.”

Pence is scheduled to speak on Wednesday night, his introduction to the rest of the country as well as the convention itself.

“I think having Pence focus on his abilities and what he’s done in the past,” Paladino said, “I think will give confidence to people that we’re going to see magic and not hear the same old nonsense out of our government officials.”

The 2010 nominee for governor in New York, Paladino has been supportive of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, endorsing his presidential campaign in 2012.

But Paladino isn’t concerned Gingrich was passed over the VP slot on the ticket.

“I think Newt is going to have a very key position in the administration,” Paladino said. “He’s going to be with us and we’ll certainly be able to benefit from his talents.”

Paladino remains open to running for governor again in 2018, saying the state’s voters are shifting away from establishment politicians.

“I think the pendulum is swinging,” he said. “I think the people of the state of New York are recognizing they can take their own destiny out of the hands of these progressives who have done nothing good for them.”

Astorino Hopes Trump Admits Mistakes

Donald Trump in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention should admit some of his remarks have been too heated during the course of the campaign, Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino told reporters on Wednesday in Cleveland.

“There are some words that I would never use and he used them,” Astorino said. “Part of the thing I’d like to hear him say on Thursday night is to admit that maybe he used some mistakes along the way, maybe he used his words carelessly, but let’s not question what’s in his heart.”

But Astorino, the party’s 2014 candidate for governor, has sought to reach out to Hispanic voters. A fluent speaker of spanish, Astorino said he hoped Trump should reassure voters he’s presidential material.

“I think we’re pivoting now,” Astorino said. “Thursday night he has got to look directly into the cameras to every American watching and have them feel comfortable about a President Trump.”

Trump had initially considered running for governor of New York in 2014, a move he declined as Astorino remained in the race for the GOP nomination.

Trump admitting a mistake — especially amid what he has viewed as a successful campaign for the Republican nomination — is highly unlikely.

Astorino has endorsed Trump’s presidential bid, saying his candidacy is far better than the alternative of Democrat Hillary Clinton winning the White House.

“Do I agree with everything he says? No, but I didn’t agree with my parents on everything, either,” Astorino said. “I never agree with every politician 100 percent. But overall I think he’d be much better for the country especially with all the things we’re concerned about — the economy, terrorism, national security, taxes.”

Still, Astorino said he was sympathetic to some of the arguments Trump has been making on immigration, though he insisted a “human face” is also part of the debate over reforming the system.

“I understand what he’s saying,” Astorino said. “We have an immigration system that is completely broken in this country and I have to deal with it as county executive. There’s no question about it.”

‘Team Player’ Reed Focuses On Congressional Races

Republicans at the daily breakfasts of the New York delegation have pushed the unlikely chance of Donald Trump wining the heavily Democratic state.

But Rep. Tom Reed took a different track on Tuesday speaking to the delegation on Wednesday morning, placing a special emphasis on the state’s GOP House members.

“In 2009, the United States House of Representatives, New york had two Republicans,” Reed said. “Now it has nine. That’s a testament you and I thank you to that.”

The redrawing the state’s congressional boundaries in 2012 by a federal judge created a host of battleground congressional districts on Long Island and in upstate New York.

While a Republican still has a difficult time winning a presidential race in the state, New York is a battleground for control of the House of Representatives.

Many of the congressional candidates running in top-tier races in New York, as well as GOP incumbents, are staying away from Cleveland this week.

Reed, however, spoke of a Trump win as beneficial to House Republicans and their agenda.

“With Donald J. Trump as our president,” Reed said, “we will be able to enact the policies and the program that I’ve been working with Paul Ryan on.”

And that starts with pushing Republican victories in key swing districts this fall: GOP candidates are defending seats in central New York, the North Country, the Hudson Valley and on the eastern end of Long Island.

“I’m a team player,” he said. “We’re going to help out our fellow Republicans.”

Reed has expressed reservations when it comes to Trump’s rhetoric, but sidestepped a question on whether he believes Indiana Gov. Mike Pence can moderate the tone of the debate from the campaign.

“We have expressed concern bout the tone and rhetoric and we’ll continue to do that as a events so warrant,” he said. “But my whole role in trying to be part of this process is to be a positive voice. We have to focus on the American people.”

In Cleveland, County Execs Eye 2018

From the Morning Memo:

While the buzz in Cleveland is about who will win the White House, a different buzz was taking place at a restaurant just down the street from the convention hall, where two potential candidates for governor held court: County executives Rob Astorino and Marc Molinaro.

“I think that’s kind of open-ended,” said Astorino, the Westchester County executive.

“You know, everything formally happens in 2018 and we’ll see where the world is at that point. But I’m certainly leaving the door open. If anything, everything we’ve said in 2014 is coming to light now.”

Astorino ran for governor two years ago against Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo. While he didn’t win, Astorino says he remains proud of the campaign and, should he run again, wants more aggressive fundraising.

“I wouldn’t have changed anything other than the fact I wish we had more money back then, truthfully, because it came down to getting our message out and being able to answer his lies and attacks,” he said.

Republicans remain excited by their bench coming up in 2018, which includes businessman and 2010 comptroller candidate Harry Wilson. Carl Paladino, the gubernatorial nominee in 2010, is also considering another run for governor.

One candidate has already taken himself out of the running: Rep. Chris Gibson, a Hudson Valley lawmaker who retires from Congress this year and heads to a teaching job at Williams College.

Astorino may face a challenge for the Republican nomination from Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro. Both men held a meet and great at the GOP convention with New York Republicans.

“Marc and are good friends and have been for a long time now,” Astorino said. “He and I both make each other laugh. We’re both county executives who understand how difficult it is to deal with what the state is heaping on us.”

Molinaro, too, was complimentary of Astorino, even if they may be rivals for the Republican nod.

“Rob and I are great friends,” Molinaro said. “I think our position is work hard, make the rounds, crisscross the state, get to know the people, and really try to inspire New Yorkers.”

Molinaro is also considering a run for governor, saying he cares deeply about both the Hudson Valley and the state.

“I’ve spent everyday in my adult in public office because I care deeply about the people I serve,” he said. “If there’s an opportunity to improve the quality of life and condition for New Yorkers, and I can provide leadership, I’m going to consider it.”

Astorino and Molinaro would face a steep climb if they run statewide, given the Democratic enrollment advantage in New York. Republicans haven’t won statewide since 2002 and hold one final lever of power: the state Senate.

“Obviously runnning statewide as a Republican is difficult just because of the numbers,” Molinaro said, “but I believe at some point New Yorkers are going to say enough is enough.”

Cuomo has said he’ll be running for a third term and has a pretty big deterrent in the form of a $19 million war chest.

Q-Poll: Voters Skeptical Of Upstate Economy And Ethics Reform Efforts

While a majority of voters consider corruption to be a “very serious” problem in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s job approval rating is holding steady, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released on Wednesday morning.

The poll found 56 percent of voters believe corruption remains a top problem for the state government to tackle, while 31 percent believe it is a “somewhat serious problem.”

At the same time, most voters — 50 percent to 38 percent — are skeptical that lawmakers and Cuomo will do anything to improve ethics measures in Albany. The legislative session ended in June, and lawmakers aren’t expected back to the state Capitol before Election Day in November.

Meanwhile, a plurality of voters, 48 percent to 36 percent, believe the current elected leadership is unable to pass new ethics reforms.

Nevertheless, Cuomo’s job approval rating is holding steady at 50 percent, with 40 percent disapproving. This is little changed from an April survey, when Cuomo was given a job approval rating of 51 percent to 38 percent.

A plurality of voters, 33 percent, give Cuomo a “B” grade for the job he’s doing as the state’s chief executive. Only 13 percent give him an “A” grade, while the same percentage give him an “F” rating.

By a margin of 48 percent to 36 percent, Cuomo is viewed as being part of the problem when it comes to corruption, the poll found.

On the upstate economy, meanwhile, voters are split as to whether Cuomo’s efforts will be successful: 38 percent of say his policies will work, 39 percent believe they won’t.

The skepticism is broadest among upstate voters themselves, with a 53 percent to 34 percent margin saying Cuomo’s revitalization efforts will fail.

Only 29 percent of upstate voters rate the economy as “good” while 40 percent believe it’s not so good. Twenty-eight percent rate the economy upstate as poor.

The poll of 1,104 New York voters was conducted from July 13 through July 17. It has a margin of error of 3 percentage points.

Here And Now

Good morning from Day Three of the Republican National Convention in Cleveland! The state Republican delegation breakfast kicks off at around 8 a.m. and is due to feature speakers John Catsimitidis and Rep. Tom Reed.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and has an event later today.

Schedule:

At 7:45 a.m., Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will speak to the Dutchess Chamber of Commerce, Poughkeepsie Grand Hotel & Conference Center
40 Civic Center Plaza, Poughkeepsie.

At 10 a.m., Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney tours Takasago International Corporation, 114 Commerce Drive South, Harriman.

Also at 10 a.m., Rep. Paul Tonko will tour the new engineering building at UAlbany’s Downtown Campus, Schuyler Building, 135 Western Avenue, Albany.

At 10:15 a.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will make an announcement at Tessy Plastics, 7474 State Fair Boulevard, Van Buren.

At 10:30 a.m., Gov. Cuomo will make an announcement at the Jacob Javits Center, Room 1A14, 38th St., New York.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Assembly Charles Lavine and Sen. Todd Kaminsky will announce a push for new ethics legislation, 55 Front Street
Rockville Centre.

At noon, Hochul will meet with small business owners in downtown Lyons, beginning at 26 Church St., Lyons.

Also at noon, tenants and housing activists; local residents; workers; members of the campaign targeting the Real Gentrifiers of NYC, 1 Dekalb Avenue at Fulton Street, Brooklyn.

Also at noon, Comptroller DiNapoli speaks to the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, Villa Venezia, 2257 Goshen Turnpike, Middletown.

At 1:30 p.m., Maloney tours President Container, 290 Ballard Road, Middletown.

At 3 p.m., Maloney tours GTI Graphic Technology, 211 Dupont Avenue, Newburgh.

At 5:30 p.m., Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan will launch City Hall on the road, Arbor Hill Community Center, 50 Lark St, Albany.

Headlines:

Donald Trump was officially nominated for president by the Republican Party on Tuesday night, with New York’s delegation putting him over the top.

Trump received the nomination alongside his family and three of his children spoke at the second night of the convention even as Republicans aren’t necessarily unified.

New York Republican Chairman Ed Cox credits New York with putting Trump over the top in the nomination process itself.

The speech given by Donald Trump Jr. was especially well received last night, with him being considered the breakout star of the convention.

As one pundit puts it, Trump Jr. gave the speech “his dad never could.”

Most New York Republicans either shrugged or defended Melania Trump’s speech from Monday in which several lines appear to have been lifted from a Michelle Obama address in 2008.

Will New York Republicans ever return to dominance in a heavily Democratic state? They haven’t won statewide in nearly 14 years.

Melania Trump’s repetition of Obama’s remarks drew instant scorn from Democrats and Republicans alike, and turned what should have been a high point of the campaign into a major embarrassment.

Ex-NRA lobbyist Chris Cox gave an impassioned speech for gun rights at the RNC amid a backdrop of gun violence across the nation.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich has been a conspicuous no-show at the Republican convention as he gears up for a potential run for president again in 2020.

On the street outside of the convention, it has been an occasionally tense scene, though major clashes with demonstrators and police is yet to occur.

In his address at the convention, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie attacked Hillary Clinton, asking the audience if she is “guilty or not guilty” of a variety of problems during her time as secretary of state.

Indeed, it seemed like Christie was auditioning to become the next attorney general in a Trump administration.

House Speaker Paul Ryan in his convention speech made a subtle push for unity within the fractious Republican Party and urged them to support the ticket of Trump and Indiana Gov. Mike Pence.

It was also a chance for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to strike an unlikely alliance with Ryan as top congressional leaders.

Queen was not happy Trump used their anthem “We Are the Champions” as his entrance music on the first night of the proceedings.

In all, Day Two of the RNC was an effort by the Trump campaign to turn the page after a messy first day in Cleveland.

And now a new problem at the convention: Norovirus!

Rep. Chris Collins’s loyalty to Trump could pay off with a post in the cabinet.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton is pretty much ignoring the RNC festivities and is campaigning in Nevada ahead of her own convention in Philadelphia next week.

Amid all of this is the potential for a major shakeup at Fox News, where Chairman Roger Ailes may soon depart over a sexual harassment scandal.

Ailes, who built the cable news channel into a powerful conservative platform, allegedly harassed star Megyn Kelly a decade ago.

He is said to be negotiating his departure from the company, with the Murdoch family wanting him gone by the end of this month.

In non-convention news:

A midday crane collapse at the Tappan Zee Bridge will be investigated as to what exactly happened to cause the structure to fall on several cars on Interstate 87.

The collapse of the crane, understandably, was a shocking sight for witnesses near the bridge.

Gov. Cuomo says it’s a miracle no one was seriously injured in the accident, which snarled traffic along the Thruway.

Lanes at the bridge finally reopened several hours after the collapse.

All told, four people were hurt in the incident.

The crane collapse is the latest mishap to occur at the construction site of the bridge, which has seen fatal accidents since it began.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman traveled to Miami several times in the last year, using campaign funds to do so, records show.

Cuomo has been playing “Santa Claus” of sorts with grants awarded to revitalize struggling downtowns in small upstate cities.

In the Southern Tier, Cuomo announced a major investment from sporting goods retailer Dick’s, saying it will be a boon to the region.

Facing low poll numbers, a very large chunk of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s schedule — some 38 hours — is apparently being set aside for him to dial for dollars a year before he seeks re-election.

A new report finds any local replacement for the controversial Common Core education standards will likely be similar to the current standards themselves.

JFK Airport is removing artifacts from the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks from a hangar as its prepared for aviation use once again.

Court of Appeals Chief Judge Janet DiFiore has assembled a task force to determine whether an overhaul of the state Constitution would benefit the judiciary.

A former city employee of Lockport testifies in court the then-mayor texted her for a nude photo.

The Buffalo Public Schools will turn to a familiar partner to help pull off the district’s new community schools program beginning in September.

The Rochester Police Department is backing off from a plan to have “two-badge” policing and keep one officer in a patrol car.

New rules are going into effect for testing for Legionella in New York to test for the bacteria in water systems.

The owner of an animal safari in western New York was trampled to death by his own antelope.