Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City with no public schedule.

Cuomo’s former top aide, Joe Percoco, is set to be sentenced this afternoon in Manhattan federal court by U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni for his conviction on three charges in a federal corruption case.

His attorneys are seeking no more than two years behind bars, the prosecution wants something substantially longer – well over five years. More here.

President Donald Trump get his daily intelligence briefing this morning, and then departs D.C. en route to Las Vegas, NV, where he’ll host a “Make America Great Again” rally at the Las Vegas convention center. Trump will be spending the night in Vegas at an undisclosed location.

Vice President Mike Pence this morning participates in “A Seat at the Table: Persecuted Church Summit,” and then delivers remarks at a presentation of the U.S. flag to the Korean War Veterans Memorial Foundation.

In the afternoon, Pence participates in a National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) lunch, followed by an appearance with his wife, Second Lady Karen Pence, at the Women Mayors of America Conference.

Also this afternoon, Pence meets with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Macedonia, and later participates in a phone call with the President of the Republic of Ecuador.

At 8 a.m., The Crain’s New York Business breakfast forum features Reps. Hakeem Jeffries and Jerrold Nadler talking about how New York is faring under Trump and their take on the midterm elections, New York Athletic Club, 180 Central Park South, Manhattan.

Also at 8 a.m., Darren Bloch, senior adviser to the mayor and director of the Mayor’s Office of Strategic Partnerships, speaks at the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce board meeting, 575 Fifth Ave., 14th floor, Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and the Manhattan Borough Board meet, 1 Centre St., 19th floor, Manhattan.

Also at 8:30 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. is the guest speaker at the American Institute of Architects’ monthly meeting. 536 LaGuardia Place, Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., Dutchess County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro continues his “Cuomo Corruption Tour,” joined by outgoing state Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco at a news conference, outside the state office budding, 333 E . Washington St., Syracuse.

Also at 10 a.m., NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio delivers remarks at Brooklyn Rep. Nydia Velazquez’s press conference on Hurricane Maria, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

At 10:30 a.m., state Sen. Todd Kaminsky, state Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousinsand Long Island advocates rally in support of the Reproductive Health Act, outside Nassau County District Court, 99 Main St., Hempstead.

At 11 a.m., Molinaro will be a guest on Prickly Politics WFUV News hosted by Andrew Seger.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Schools Chancellor Richard Carranza and de Blasio and deliver remarks about the District 15 Diversity Plan, M.S. 51 William Alexander, 350 5th Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Westchester County Executive George Latimer is asking that all drivers leave their cars at home on Friday, Sept. 21 in celebration of “Car Free Day” in the Hudson Valley, White Plains TransCenter, Ferris Avenue & Water Street, White Plains.

At noon, Molinaro will be a guest on iHeartMedia Syracuse News Radio 570 WSYR hosted by David Smith.

At 2 p.m., NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill, Special Agent-in-Charge David Beach, U.S. Secret Service; Assistant Director-in-Charge William Sweeney, FBI; and Manhattan Borough Commissioner Ed Pincar Jr., DOT; discuss security preparations for the United Nations’ General Assembly, 1 Police Plaza, Manhattan.

Also at 2 p.m., Diaz Jr. speaks at the Mid-Atlantic Advanced Manufacturing Technology and Education Summit, Bruckner Building, 2417 Third Ave., seventh floor, the Bronx.

At 3 p.m., Molinaro makes another “Cuomo Corruption Tour” stop, this time outside the state office building in Watertown, 317 Washington.

At 5:30 p.m., Congressional candidate Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, state Sen. Gustavo Rivera, NYC Councilwoman Carlina Rivera and others hold a news conference and rally to commemorate the anniversary of Hurricane Maria, public plaza at south side of Union Square Park, Manhattan.

At 6 p.m., Carranza attends a meeting of the Panel for Educational Policy, High School for Fashion Industries, 225 West 24th S., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie attends a fundraiser benefiting congressional candidate Joseph Morelle, Trolman, Glaser & Lichtman P.C., 747 Third Ave., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., the NYC Charter Revision Commission holds a public hearing, Queens Borough Hall, 120-55 Queens Blvd., Queens.

At at 6 p.m., the Army Corps of Engineers, with NYC Councilman Chaim Deutsch, hold a scoping meeting on coastal risk management alternatives, New York Aquarium, 602 Surf Ave., Brooklyn.

Also at 6 p.m., NYC Councilman Ben Kallos hosts his annual town hall meeting, which features updates from various city agencies, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, 430 E. 67th St., Manhattan.

Also at 6 p.m., Diaz Jr. hosts his annual Ecuadorian Heritage Celebration, Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse, Veterans’ Memorial Hall, the Bronx.

At 6:30 p.m., Rachel May, the apparent winner of the 53rd state Senate District Democratic primary, will address the press about the absentee balloting process and results, outside Westcott Community Center, 826 Euclid Ave., Syracuse.

At 7 p.m., de Blasio and NYC First Lady Chrilane McCray will deliver remarks at the First Responders for Hurricane Maria Reception at Gracie Mansion, 88th Street and East End Avenue, Manhattan.

Headlines…

The confrontation between Judge Brett Kavanaugh and his accuser, Christine Blasey Ford, devolved into a polarizing stalemate as Democrats and Republicans advanced competing narratives to convince voters that the other side has been unfair in the U.S. Supreme Court confirmation battle.

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Senate Judiciary Committee chairman, refused to delay Monday’s hearing on sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh, or pursue an FBI investigation into the accusations.

The high school classmate who was said to have laughed while Kavanaugh allegedly tried to sexually assault a teen girl at a high school drinking party added a quote to his yearbook that said some women deserve to be smacked around.

Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill, of Missouri, said that she will oppose Kavanaugh’s nomination – the first of a group of undecided Democrats running for reelection in states won by Trump to formally announce their decision on the judge’s fate.

During a tour of storm-ravaged North Carolina, the president told one survivor to “have a good time.”

Where other presidents have treated natural disaster tours as dignified, even grave affairs, Donald Trump has deployed sardonic humor, a candidate’s pep-rally enthusiasm and a real estate developer’s talent for always finding a silver lining.

Trump slammed embattled U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a blistering attack in which he declared, “I don’t have an attorney general. It’s very sad.”

The president is confident that the United States is winning its trade war with China. But on both sides of the Pacific, a bleaker recognition is taking hold: The world’s two largest economies are in the opening stages of a new economic Cold War, one that could persist well after Trump is out of office.

Twice in less than a year, the federal government has lost track of nearly 1,500 migrant children after placing them in the homes of sponsors across the country, federal officials have acknowledged.

Ian Buruma, the editor of The New York Review of Books, left his position amid an uproar over the magazine’s publication of an essay by a disgraced Canadian radio broadcaster who had been accused of sexually assaulting women.

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks, will pay $10 million to women’s leadership and domestic-violence organizations under an agreement with the N.B.A. to address sexual harassment and other improper conduct among employees in the team’s front office.

Winning the Democratic gubernatorial primary hasn’t changed Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s main target of attack: President Trump.

Cuomo might have assumed that his big win in last week’s Democratic primary would end talk about the last-minute piece of campaign mail that falsely suggested his opponent, Cynthia Nixon, was ambivalent about anti-Semitism. He was mistaken.

A top aide to Nixon, Rebecca Katz, suggested Cuomo needs to own up to the controversial mailer that linked his vanquished primary foe to anti-Semitism if he wants an endorsement in the general election from her.

Angry commuters are venting on social media about the poor state of public transit in New York, but they did not take it out on Cuomo at the polls. It’s leading some to question whether riders will see improvements anytime soon, though the issue remains a focus in the general election governor’s race.

Councilman Rory Lancman, a Queens Democrat, said the lack of information on fare-evasion arrests and summonses from the NYPD violates the law, and he and the nonprofit Community Service Society filed a lawsuit in state Supreme Court in Manhattan in an effort to compel the mayor and the department to release the data.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio, a lifelong Red Sox fan, met secretly with the team’s top officials for a 90-minute lunch yesterday at the downtown offices of Goldman Sachs, to discuss, according to a mayoral spokesman, “the Red Sox Foundation and how New York fans of the Sox could help their important causes.”

De Blasio and Cuomo set their long-running feud aside for a post-primary “unity” rally in Manhattan that was also supposed to highlight candidates in contested House and state Senate races, but those people weren’t invited to take the stage.

Four out of six of the so-called “turncoat” state Senate Democrats – former IDC members – who were toppled in this month’s primary election have yet to concede in their respective races.

The NYC Council is asking Trump to support a bipartisan commission to investigate the federal response to Hurricane Maria — which council members argued was an “utter disappointment,” particularly compared to hurricane responses on the mainland.

More >

NY-27: Collins Will ‘Actively Campaign’ and Serve If Reelected

Indicted Republican Congressman Chris Collins sent a letter to media and supporters Wednesday afternoon, promising to “actively campaign” for reelection.

Collins, who suspended his campaign in August, several days after federal prosecutor brought charges related to insider trading against him, surprised GOP leaders Monday when he decided to remain on the ballot. With the exception of a brief statement from his attorneys, the congressman had not been heard from since the decision.

However Wednesday, he promised not only to reestablish the campaign, but to serve if reelected.

The stakes are too high to allow the radical left to take control of this seat in Congress. Their agenda is clear. They want to reverse the recently enacted tax cuts, impose Canadian style healthcare, inflict new job-killing regulations and impeach President Trump,” he wrote. “We cannot stand by and let that happen.”

Democratic challenger and current Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray’s campaign has received vastly increased attention and support in the past six week. Cook Political Report recently upgraded his prospects of winning although he remains an underdog in the GOP-leaning 27th Congressional District.

The candidate promised an in depth statement in response but responded to the news on Twitter with two words.

“Bring it,” McMurray said.

Some Republicans, including former gubernatorial candidate Carl Paladino, had called for Collins to vow to resign if reelected. The congressman could potentially face expulsion and/or censure if convicted.

Collins has a status hearing in U.S. District Court Southern District of New York scheduled for October 11.

Longshot Candidate Cleary Releases Digital Ad In SD-2

The Democratic candidate hoping to unseat state Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan in his home district has released her first campaign commercial.

East Northport horticulturist Kathleen Cleary’s campaign says the digital advertisement will target prime voters in Senate District 2. The political newcomer faces an uphill battle against the Republican who’s been in the state Legislature for 30+ years.

The spot begins with the candidate explaining she decided to run for office because the majority leader was holding up the Women’s Reproductive Health Act, which aims to strengthen abortion rights in New York State.

“If we were to lose Roe V. Wade, women’s right to an abortion would only be if their life was at stake, not if their health or their fertility, but their life. My first pregnancy nearly killed me. Five months later, my second pregnancy left me infertile,” she said.

The ad continued to claim Flanagan holds up many bills that would be beneficial to voters. Cleary said he is taking constituents for granted and is beholden to corporate donors.

The candidate has announced endorsements from New York State United Teachers and Communications Workers of America Local 1180. She has raised roughly $15,000 according to her July campaign finance report.

Flanagan has more than $1.4 million in his campaign coffers.

“Majority Leader Flanagan serves this state and his district with distinction, focusing on issues that matter to everyday people like cutting taxes, generating jobs and creating an affordable New York,” Flanagan campaign spokesperson Candice Giove said.

The campaign went on to say it is unfortunate any candidate would use the Roe Supreme Court decision as a talking point given it is already the law of the land and the state Attorney General’s Office previously offered a legal opinion that it stands in this state.

“The Reproductive Health Act goes far beyond Roe, allowing non-doctors – like nurses, nurse practitioners, and even doulas – to perform abortion, a medical procedure, up until the moment of birth,” Giove said.

She said the bill also diminishes protections for domestic violence victims when unborn children are killed, referencing a specific case in Bronx County earlier this year as an example of the current law’s value.

 

Cook Political Report Moves NY-27 To ‘Lean Republican’

Election analysis newsletter Cook Political Report believes indicted Republican Congressman Chris Collins decision to remain on the November ballot makes the seat more attainable for Democrats.

The report has moved his race against current Grand Island Town Supervisor Nate McMurray from Likely Republican to Lean Republican following Monday’s announcement. The author of the latest analysis, David Wasserman, compared New York’s 27th Congressional District to Pennsylvania’s similarly GOP dominated 18th district, where Democrat Conor Lamb scored an upset victory in March.

However, Wasserman also pointed out there is hopeful precedent for Republicans in Rep. Michael Grimm, who handily won reelection while under indictment in 2014. Grimm promised to resign if convicted which Collins, so far, has not done.

“New York’s 27th CD takes in Buffalo’s most Republican suburbs and voted for President Trump 59 percent to 35 percent in 2016. Collins, a former Erie County executive and one of the wealthiest members of Congress, became Trump’s first congressional endorser in early 2016 and took 67 percent in 2016. But in his last competitive race in 2012, he only defeated Democratic Rep. Kathy Hochul 51 percent to 49 percent,” Wasserman wrote.

He also wrote that while Hochul, not McMurray, was the Democratic Party’s first choice for the seat, it has appeared to galvanize behind McMurray in the last six weeks. Collins was arrested on charges related to insider trading in early August and suspended his campaign a few days later.

Local Republican committees had been looking at steps to substitute the congressman on the ballot, but could only do so with his cooperation. This week Collins and his lawyers signaled the GOP no longer had that cooperation.

NY-27 GOP County Chairs Meet In Albany To Discuss Collins Situation

The eight county Republican chairs from New York’s 27th Congressional District met Tuesday in Albany to talk strategy after being blindsided by the indicted incumbent a day earlier.

The meeting, which came as the state committee also met at the capital, was originally intended to discuss moving forward with a plan to substitute Rep. Chris Collins on the ballot. In August, Collins suspended his campaign after federal prosecutors charged him with crimes related to insider trading.

Monday, however, the congressman and his attorneys decided it was in their best interest to remain the candidate. Erie County GOP Chairman Nick Langworthy said he and his fellow chairs discussed strategy about how to get out the vote for all their elections, but particularly in NY-27.

“We’re looking forward to, you know, the next week or so, discussing things maybe with Congressman Collins team to see what their plans are for his campaign,” he said.

Langworthy did not provide much detail about the strategy but talked at length about how important it was to keep the seat in Republican hands. Again, he said a vote for the Democratic candidate Nate McMurray is a vote to impeach President Donald Trump, even though McMurray has said that’s not a priority of his.

“No matter what he says right now, he will be part of a Democrat majority if they were to take that in the House of Representatives that will go on to make their first order of business the impeachment of President Trump. We can’t stand for that and the conservative Republican voters of Western New York, we don’t want that in our region,” Langworthy said.

The Erie County chairman was asked about what would happen if Collins were elected then convicted. He said he feels very good about the candidates that had come forward for the seats over the past six weeks and believes the party has great options if needed in the future.

Wofford Says He’ll Go After Public Corruption ‘From Day One’

Republican Attorney General candidate Keith Wofford believes he would have broad authority to combat corruption in state government and promised to begin in investigating issues immediately if elected.

Wofford said the state constitution not only gives the AG’s office independent authority, it obligates the officeholder to prosecute corruption. On top of that, the candidate cited roughly a half a dozen different statutes he believes he would give him the tools needed to take on the issue.

The candidate said corruption is the number one issue in the race and argued it is costing taxpayers “a fortune.” He drew a distinction between himself and Democratic candidate Letitia James who on various occasions has said the state Legislature needs to approve new laws.

“I just want the people to know that from Day One, when I’m elected attorney general, we’re not going to have to wait for the Legislature. Contrary to what my opponent says, an effective attorney general can go after the biggest issue out there, that is public corruption, from Day One,” Wofford said.

James’ campaign said her record of taking on entrenched forces stands in stark contrast to Wofford.

“It’s incredible that Mr. Wofford is now suggesting that he can tackle corruption, given his support of Donald Trump,” said Delaney Kempner, campaign spokesperson.

Wofford did not rule out asking legislators to pass new laws but said he has no plans to wait for them to do so. He pointed to bid-rigging in particular as a major problem and said there are different angles to address it, including civil action to invalidate contracts, in addition to criminal prosecution.

“When the taxpayers are injured, it’s not just that the person who did wrong isn’t in jail. It’s that we have a lousy deal that hurts the taxpayers,” he said.

Wofford said, if elected, he plans to talk about guidelines, red flags, and best practices to avoid further issues. He said his office will look at campaign contributions and their connection to contracts.

However, in a departure from the stance of GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro, Wofford said he doesn’t believe in banning contributions from people or businesses with which the government is contracting.

“I believe in First Amendment rights of people to give and to contribute,” he said. “People have an interest whether it’s a personal interest or a commercial interest. I actually believe in the right to give. It’s not the giving that’s the issue. It’s the question of whether there’s a nexus between giving and action by the government.”

State Senate To Examine Cuomo’s Conditional Pardons

The New York State Senate will host two public hearings to examine the state’s current parole policies and the governor’s use of executive order to grant conditional pardons allowing parolees to vote.

This year Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-NY, pardoned more than 24,000 individuals, drawing criticism from many of his opponents, including a number of Republican State Senators. Crime Victims, Crime and Correction Committee Chair Pat Gallivan, R-Elma, was among those critics.

Gallivan annouced the hearings jointly with the chair of the Elections Committee, Fred Ashkar.

“I am troubled by the seeming automatic release of cop killers, sex offenders and violent felons who now have had their rights restored through a questionable process,” Gallivan said. “The governor’s blanket pardon of approximately 25,000 convicted felons, who have yet to pay their debt to society, is wrong. We need to examine current parole policies and the impact of the governor’s Executive Order to ensure public safety is properly served.”

The governor’s executive order received almost immediate backlash when he issued the first round of pardons in May, although prisoners’ rights advocates and civil liberty groups applauded the move. The criticisms continued as state senators and Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro expressed concern about the potential for convicted sex offenders to vote in school polling places during the primary.

The governor’s office has maintained the executive order puts New York on par with 16 other state – liberal and conservative – in restoring voting rights to the formerly incarcerated. The hearings take place on October 1 and October 2 in Albany and Long Island respectively.

Molinaro Calls For Schwartz Dismissal, Release Of Communications

Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro is calling for the immediate dismissal of Larry Schwartz, a former aide for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority board.

Days before the Democratic primary, Schwartz approved a campaign mailer casting candidate Cynthia Nixon as an anti-semite. The governor said he knew nothing about the piece and that Schwartz, a campaign volunteer, mistakenly authorized without seeing the negative portion.

Molinaro said the idea that he only proof-read the back page is preposterous. At the same time, the Republican called for a full release of communications between Schwartz and state agencies.

“Mr. Schwartz is integral not only to Mr. Cuomo’s re-election enterprise,” Molinaro said, “He’s a central figure in the corrupt enterprise into which Andrew Cuomo has turned New York State government. Its agencies have been improperly molded into fundraising tools and re-election message vehicles for this governor, and we believe that Larry Schwartz is right in the middle of it. Mr. Cuomo will release the documents if we are wrong.”

Molinaro also suggested Schwartz could be working as an unregistered lobbiest, similar to convicted former Cuomo aide Todd Howe. Schwartz works for OTG, a private company the Republican says is receiving state funds as part of a project at LaGuardia Airport.

The Cuomo campaign pointed out OTG contracts with the state, not the airport. It also noted the company was operating in LaGuardia and JFK airport before Schwartz was hired.

“Trump ‘mini-me’ Molinaro knows Larry is a professional and a part-time volunteer, unlike his political hit men Al D’Amato and lobbyist David Catalfamo. Instead of cheap shots, Molinaro should stop hiding and release his taxes,” campaign spokesperson Abbey Collins said.

The campaign also noted Schwartz was banned from lobbying for two years when he left state government and has not lobbied since. It said OTG has registered lobbyists to represent them on state issues.

Molinaro’s campaign said it would file Freedom of Information Law Requests with the Cuomo Administration if full records of Schwartz’s telephone calls, emails, Blackberry Messenger, texts, and other communications are not released.

Rep. Higgins Signs Letter Demanding Answers From Walmart

Rep. Brian Higgins, D-NY-26, is one of 13 Democratic members of Congress to sign a letter demanding answers from Walmart about how the federal Tax Cuts and Jobs Act has affected employees.

The letter to CEO Doug McMillon points out the company authorized $20 billion in buybacks for stockholders while many workers still make wages below the federal poverty line. The organization Making Change At Walmart said it provided Congress with hundreds of testimonies from workers who fall well below the company’s claim of a $13.75 average hourly wage, prior to the letter’s submission.

“Walmart continues to prove it is an irresponsible corporation that will, given the opportunity, choose rewarding executives and shareholders over the welfare of the hard-working men and women who make its stores successful,” MCAW communications director Amy Ritter said.

The members of Congress also question the CEO about recent layoffs and the closure of 63 Sam’s Club locations, a Wal-Mart subsidiary. The signers, including Higgins did not support the tax reform bill.

The letter conceded Wal-Mart has taken steps to increase wages, improve benefits in the last several years. However, as the nation’s largest private employer the members asked the company to provide comprehensive answers to a dozen questions about the tax law’s impact and plans moving forward.

Higgins was the only New York representative to sign.

Programming Note

Due to the Jewish holiday and a vacation, neither Nick nor I will be in today and tomorrow.

As a result, there will be light to no blogging during that time, and no morning or afternoon memos sent out.

Terry Stackhouse will be hosting Capital Tonight this evening and tomorrow, for those of you in the viewing area. We leave you in his capable hands.

Sorry for any inconvenience. Regularly scheduled programming and blogging will resume Thursday.

– L