Libous Wants To Return To Normalcy

From the morning memo, in case you missed it:

Deputy Senate Republican Leader Tom Libous insisted in an interview with Time Warner Cable News on Monday the federal indictment against him doesn’t change his approach to his job or is prospects for re-election.

The longtime Binghamton lawmaker is accused of lying to the FBI, based on a June 2010 interview stemming from his alleged efforts to secure a job for his son Matthew Libous at a politically connected law firm.

In the interview, Libous stressed he’s focused on his day job as a state senator and isn’t being distracted by the looming case.

“It hasn’t taken up a lot fo time because — I don’t want to say they’re simple, they’re serious charges, I take them seriously — but we believe we can deal with it,” Libous said. “I have a good attorney. It really hasn’t taken or distracted me from many things.”

Libous added he still had a lot he wanted to accomplish while in office, including the completion of a new pharmacy school in the area.

Libous continues to have treatment for cancer, but said that while it knocks him back on occasion, he feels fine.

He was also confident he’ll be found not guilty of the false statements charge.

“I have to prove I did not give false statements in the interview and we’re going to prove that,” Libous said.

Nevertheless, the indictment of Libous was yet another wrench into the Senate GOP’s efforts to claim full control of the state Senate.

Soon after the indictment of Libous, Republican Sen. George Maziarz, the third-ranking member of the conference, abruptly announced he would retire and not run for re-election.

Maziarz’s campaign finances are reportedly being investigated by federal prosecutors, but he has insisted he’s stepping down to spend more time with his family.

Senate Democrats have sought to pounce on the Maziarz retirement as well as Libous’ indictment.

Former Vestal town Supervisor Andrea Starzak is running for Libous’ seat that he’s held since 1988. Denver Jones, a local activist, is running a GOP primary campaign against him.

Libous indicated he planned to run on his seniority and tenure in the state Senate — a potentially risky card to play. Losing him in the chamber could essentially hit the reset button in Albany for the region.

“Make the decision based on my performance, based on what I’ve done for the Southern Tier,” Libous said.

He added: “We don’t need New York City running upstate New York. If they were to win this seat, it gives them a foothold. Whether Republican or Democrat is, you’d be starting all over again. You’re starting from scratch.”

He’s spoken with Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat who has a warm relationship with, since the indictment was handed up.

“We’ve connected and the governor’s in good spirits,” Libous said, “and we continue our relationship.”

With Friends Like These

From the morning memo:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, for now, is taking a pass on getting involved on Republican Rob Astorino’s behalf in the race for New York governor.

The reasoning is simple, according to NJ.com: Christie, the head of the Republican Governors Association, doesn’t think Astorino has much of a shot.

“I will spend time in places where we have a chance to win, I said that right from the beginning,” said Christie while campaigning in Connecticut.

“We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes,” he added. “If the New York race becomes competitive, I’ll consider campaigning in the New York race, but right now, by the public polls, there’s a lot more competitive races like this one in Connecticut.”

A Siena poll of likely voters released on Monday found Astorino trailing Cuomo by 37 percentage points.

The Christie comments also come as Astorino, the Westchester County executive, lags in fundraising against Cuomo as well.

Christie had reportedly met with Astorino late last year to discuss a potential run for governor against Cuomo, a Democrat who the New Jersey Republican has had a publicly cordial relationship.

During the controversy over lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, Cuomo was careful not to criticize Christie’s handling of the situation.

It was rumored that Christie was going to even appear at Cuomo’s second Adirondack Challenge this past weekend, but ultimately did not attend (The optics, to say the least, would have been very interesting).

Astorino, meanwhile, due to make a joint appearance with Zephyr Teachout this morning at the Tweed Courthouse — an eyebrow raising event that could garner both campaigns more attention during a relatively slow summer.

Teachout, a Fordham law professor, is challenging Cuomo on the Democratic primary ballot (Her petitions are being challenged by the governor’s re-election campaign).

The joint appearance comes as both Astorino and Teachout try to raise their name recognition with voters and gain the attention of Cuomo.

Astorino has challenged the governor to a series of debates around the state, which the Cuomo campaign has brushed aside.

It’s interesting to note, too, that Cuomo started his own campaign in 2010 for governor at the Tweed Courthouse, launching an effort based on cleaning up Albany.

Here and Now

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

NYC City Mayor Bill de Blasio is on the island of Capri, Italy with his family. No public events are scheduled.

At 10 a.m., GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout make a joint announcement, Tweed Courthouse, 52 Chambers St., Manhattan. (Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis and local business owners will join him).

At 10:30 a.m., JCOPE meets, 540 Broadway, Albany.

AT 10:45 a.m., Astorino will be a guest on “Live from the State Capitol” with host Fred Dicker.

At 11:30 a.m., NYC Council members and state lawmakers who are members of minority caucus groups, as well as other city officials, hold a news conference to criticize the actions of NYPD officers during the Thursday, July 17, arrest of 43-year-old Staten Island resident Eric Garner, who lost consciousness and died; steps, City Hall, Manhattan.

Also at 11:30 a.m., Sen. David Carlucci joins Rockland County District Attorney Thomas Zugibe and others to call for legislation to be signed to ensure people who have had their image broadcasted without their consent will have a course of action, Clarkstown Police Station, 20 Maple Ave., New City.

At 1 p.m., Astorino will hold a joint press conference with state comptroller candidate Bob Antonacci and former Rep. Bob Turner calling on Cuomo to return the $37 million in Superstorm Sandy funds he spent on TV ads to the victims, 175 Ocean Ave., Breezy Point, Queens.

At 1:15 p.m., labor leaders speak out against the DEC’s plan to shut off electricity from Indian Point Energy Center, Colonial Terrace, 119 Oregon Rd., Cortlandt Manor.

At 5:30 p.m., Reps. Peter King and Chris Collins headline a fundraiser for fellow Republican Bruce Blakeman, who is running for Congress in NY-4, Capitol Hill Club, 300 First St. SE, Washington, DC.

At 6:30 p.m., Astorino will attend a fundraiser for Hempstead Town Supervisor Kate Murray, Tropix on the Mile, 395 Woodcleft Ave., Freeport.

At 8 p.m., NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer greets the crowd from the state at Shakespeare in the Park: King Lear, at the Delacorte Theater, 81 Central Park West, Manhattan.

At 8:15 p.m., Astorino will attend the Huntington Chamber of Commerce Networking Luau, Crab Meadow Beach, Waterside Avenue, Northport.

Headlines…

Republican Governors Association Chairman Chris Christie on why he won’t be campaigning on Astorino’s behalf in New York anytime soon: “We don’t pay for landslides and we don’t invest in lost causes.” He’ll change his mind if the race becomes “competitive.”

Christie, the New Jersey governor and a potential 2016 contender, has yet to regain the record high popularity he enjoyed before a scandal involving the George Washington Bridge, though public interest in the lane closures is fading, according to a new poll.

While campaigning in Connecticut, Christie was rebuked by Newtown families for rejecting a bill that would have banned the sale of ammunition magazines larger than 10 rounds.

Food Network star Sandra Lee, who rarely makes public appearances with her live-in boyfriend, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, made a splash at the Adirondack whitewater rafting race he organized this past weekend.

School bus operators who need Mayor de Blasio’s help to retain lucrative city contracts contributed nearly $40,000 to a mayoral nonprofit — but took steps to hide the donations from public view.

De Blasio is keeping up a breakneck New York-type pace on his family vacation in Italy, leaving the Italians to wonder: What’s the rush?

The Staten Island neighborhood thrust into the spotlight when Eric Garner died after an NYPD officer subdued him with an apparent chokehold is in a precinct that has historically seen tension between the police and residents.

An NYPD internal report prepared right after Garner’s death plays down the incident, with supervising officers failing to note the chokehold and insisting he was not in “great distress.”

Nearly two-thirds of New York voters say they’re never surprised when another state legislator gets indicted because most are out only to help themselves and their political pals, according to a new Siena poll.

A legal battle with Cuomo’s anti-corruption Moreland Commission didn’t stop the Syracuse-based firm of Hiscock & Barclay from contributing to the governor’s campaign.

Well-known election attorney and former Senate Democratic Leader Marty Connor is representing challengers to Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout’s petitions.

More >

Extras

Westchester Democratic Chairman Reginald LaFayette, who is also a local election commissioner, thinks it’s “a little insulting” to be asked why he can’t file financial reports on time.

The League of Voluntary Hospitals and Homes and 1199 SEIU have reached a tentative deal on a new four-year contract.

Federal prosecutors want GOP Rep. Michael Grimm’s tax evasion trial to start in October - a month before Election Day.

The NYC Department of Investigation has begun a review of scores of cases of serious injuries suffered by inmates at Rikers Island.

NY-24 GOP candidate John Katko, who is “not interested in doing the lables,” shared his positions on a host of key issues.

Bronx Councilman Fernando Cabrera rolled $33,000 from his NYC campaign account to his Senate account to fund his primary challenge to Sen. Gustavo Rivera; the CFB wants that cash back.

On his second day in Italy, Mayor Bill de Blasio visited the Vatican and invited Pope Francis to come to New York.

If Tim Wu defeats Kathy Hochul in the Democratic LG primary, it could be curtains for the state Independence Party.

Two of the nation’s largest non-profit immigration service groups will shut down as part of a settlement with AG Eric Schneiderman.

GOP operative John Haggerty, who bilked former NYC Mayor Bloomberg out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2009, turned himself in this morning to serve 1 ​1/3 to 4 years in prison.

A report from the city’s Independent Budget Office found 21 percent of households that moved out of New York City in 2012 moved within the state - either to the suburbs or upstate.

GE, which is slated to receive $135 million from the Cuomo administration, contributed $90,000 to the state Democratic Party in less than seven months.

Ken Thompson took a hefty pay cut this year when he was became the new Brooklyn district attorney.

State government contracts related to the Saw Mill River Parkway are paving the way for political donations to Cuomo.

Sen. Michael Nozzolio is touting a GOP proposal to use a $3.3 billion settlement with a French bank for education aid and ending the Gap Elimination Adjustment.

 

CWA Endorses Klein

The Communications Workers of America, a key union in the coalition that’s trying to engineer a full Democratic takeover of the state Senate, endorsed on Monday Independent Democratic Conference Leader Jeff Klein’s re-election.

Klein, a Bronx Democrat, faces former New York City Councilman Oliver Koppell this fall.

“As a leader of the State Senate, Jeff Klein has fought for issues that make a difference in the lives of CWA members and hardworking New Yorkers across the state. Jeff supports high quality telecommunications services throughout New York, a higher minimum wage and real, meaningful campaign finance reform. CWA is proud to endorse Jeff Klein for reelection to the 34th State Senate District,” said CWA District One Vice President Chris Shelton in a statement.

CWA is a major get for Klein, considering the labor union is a key player within the Working Families Party, which is officially remaining neutral in this race and the primary campaign between IDC Sen. Tony Avella and former city Comptroller John Liu.

Klein and the IDC last month agreed to a form a new coalition with mainline Senate Democrats following a deal brokered by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

A coalition that includes the state’s largest and most politically active unions and the Working Families Party is part of an overall effort to help Democrats regain control of the Senate.

General Objections Filed Against Teachout’s Petitions (Updated)

Two general objections were filed at the state Board of Elections challenging Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout’s effort to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary.

Teachout’s campaign this month filed about 45,000 petition signatures to gain ballot access, triple the amount needed.

The general objections — due today with the state Board of Elections — came from Harris Weiss and Austin Sternlicht. Neither challengers have made political donations in the last decade, a search of campaign finance contributions showed.

The contact person for the objections is former Senate Minority Leader Marty Connor, who questioned in May whether Teachout was eligible to run for governor in New York based on her previous out-of-state residency.

At the time, Teachout was challenging Cuomo for the Working Families Party ballot line, which ultimately failed.

It turned out Teachout was indeed eligible to run for governor and had no residency issues.

Teachout’s campaign had been anticipating a challenge to its petitions and earlier this month circulated a fundraising appeal so the campaign could hire lawyers.

Update: Cuomo campaign spokesman Peter Kauffmann confirmed the governor’s re-election campaign is behind the challenge effort.

Conigliaro Launches Bid Against Addabbo (Updated)

Senate Republicans on Monday announced they had coalesced around real-estate attorney Michael Conigliaro to run against Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Addabbo in Queens.

“My campaign will focus on the issues that are important to the forgotten middle class; creating jobs, cutting taxes and making sure that the next generation has an even better shot at life. Quite frankly, it’s not enough to stand on the sidelines and simply complain about the status quo. I’m running for State Senate because I want to change things for the better. I believe I can make a difference,” Conigliaro said in a statement.

Addabbo is a frequent target for the Senate GOP. Earlier this year, Republican former city Councilman Tom Ognibene was interested in running for the job and went as far as circulating petitions, but ultimately declined.

In 2012, Republican Councilman Eric Ulrich took on Addabbo in one of the costliest state Senate races that year.

In a statement, Ulrich signaled his support for Conigliaro.

“I’m supporting Mike Conigliaro because he’s honest, hard-working and understands that public service is a privilege, not an entitlement,” he said. “Mike will make a great State Senator. He’s the real deal and someone who we can count on to deliver real results. I’m proud to endorse him in this race.”

Updated: The Democratic Senate Campaign Committee’s Executive Director Josh Cherwin weighs in.

“After being rejected by numerous preferred choices and acknowledging that they will not be providing financial support to this race, the Republicans are turning their political problems into a comedy by not even having announced candidates until weeks after nominating petitions were submitted. Senator Addabbo will be re-elected because the people of his district know that he represents their views and stands up for them in Albany.”

Senate Democrats Hope Panepinto Can Unseat Grisanti (Updated)

Senate Democrats are looking toward attorney Marc Panepinto to unseat Republican incumbent Sen. Mark Grisanti in Buffalo.

In doing so, they point to his fundraising advantage over Grisanti, which is fueled in part by a $54,000 contribution from Panepinto himself to the campaign.

They also point recent endorsements from the statewide teachers union as well as 1199/SEIU, the latter of which endorsed Grisanti in 2012.

“I decided to run for State Senate because the residents of the 60th Senate District deserve real leadership and are not receiving the results they require from our current State Senator. For our regional and statewide economy to once again prosper we need raise the minimum wage, lift millions out of poverty and allow local governments to better address the needs of their constituents by providing municipalities with the ability to raise their own minimum wages. I am honored to receive the support of hardworking men and women throughout New York State and I will continue to fight to ensure the residents, families and businesses who call the 60th Senate District home receive the quality government services and support they deserve.”

That being said, Grisanti has been a top, but elusive target for Senate Democrats.

Grisanti first won his seat in 2010, defeating Democratic incumbent Antoine Thompson, and helping Republicans gain control of the Senate.

Two years ago, the Democratic effort to win the district back became bogged down in the fog of western New York politics, with the party’s preferred candidate, Chuck Swanick, running on the Conservative Party line.

Grisanti won the race handily.

In the interim, Grisanti supported the legalization of same-sex marriage and is one of only four Republicans who backed the 2011 measure to remain in office.

Grisanti has forged mutually beneficial ties with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration while also distancing himself from other liberal-supported bills, most notably taking a firm stand against the Dream Act.

Grisanti is once again running in a battleground district, but a Democratic victory there is far from a foregone conclusion.

Updated: Senate Republican spokesman Scott Reif responds.

“Is this the candidate who Mike Gianaris and the New York City Democrats are supporting now, after they successfully pushed aside a woman who wanted to run for this seat as a Democat? If leftist New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, the radical Working Families Party and the Senate Democrats are allowed to control this seat, hardworking Western New York taxpayers are going to get the shaft — just like they did when Democrats controlled the Senate in 2009-10 and raised taxes by $14 billion,” Reif said.

The Siena Poll’s Switch To Likely Voters Doesn’t Help Astorino

On the surface, the Siena College poll released this morning was not good news for Republican gubernatorial hopeful Rob Astorino.

It’s never good news when you’re down 37 percentage points, granted.

Last month’s poll showed Cuomo leading Astorino 57 percent to 21 percent. The chasm this month grew slightly between Cuomo and Astornio, 60 percent to 23 percent, with Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins scoring 6 percent.

But the poll today, which shifted in methodology from registered voters to “likely” voters contains shows a deeper hole for Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s main challenger.

Consider the demographic differences of those polled between June and July.

The breakdown of those polled last month included 47 Democratic voters, 23 percent Republican voters.

This month survey of likely voters — those who expect to vote in the upcoming November elections — actually increased the number of Republicans to 27 percent of those polled, and decreased the number of enrolled Democrats to 45 percent.

Today’s poll also decreased the number of New York City voters surveyed last month: 39 percent in June versus 30 percent today. Upstate voters — a bloc that Astorino hopes to capture — were increased in representation in the poll: 44 percent in July versus 36 percent last month.

The result was basically the same: A large lead for Cuomo, and few voters having an opinion of Astorino.

Moody’s: ‘Anemic’ Sales Tax Growth For Counties

Revenue from sales tax collections grew slowly in the first six months of 2014, with nearly all of the gains coming New York City and nearby counties like Rockland, Dutchess and Columbia, according to an analysis released on Monday by Moody’s Investor Services.

Statewide, county sales tax revenue increased by 2.3 percent, Moody’s found.

But for most counties in the state, the growth was slow, increasing by 0.1 percent. Excluding the gains made from rate increases in four counties, revenue declined 0.04 percent.

Nassau County, hit hard by damage from Hurricane Sandy in 2012, recorded the largest year-to-year decline, 8.3 percent.

Moody’s attributed the decrease in Nassau for retail spending after the post-Sandy rebuilding largely tapering off. Nevertheless, the drop in revenue is problematic for Nassau County, which budgeted for a 2 percent increase in sales tax collections, making such a target difficult to hit, Moody’s found.

The four counties that increased their sales tax — Lewis, Hamilton, Essex and St. Lawrence — recorded either flat or decreased revenue once the adjustments were netted out.

When taking those counties and New York City out of the equation, median statewide sales tax growth was only 1.7 percent.