Gladd Hires Rhodes Campaign Chief For Senate Bid

Democratic state Senate candidate Aaron Gladd has hired the former campaign manager of congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes, a source with knowledge of the personnel move said.

Gladd is turning to Jesse Meyer in the race to succeed Republican Sen. Kathy Marchione in the 43rd Senate district, which encompasses parts of the Albany suburbs.

Meyer worked previously as a field organizer for Rep. Sean Patrick Maleony and was a regional field director for Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign in Nevada.

Gladd, meanwhile, reported raising $129,000 in his July filing and has $126,000 in cash on hand. Republican Daphne Jordan reported $35,249 in cash on hand.

Kaminsky’s Large Campaign Haul

From the Morning Memo:

It was not that long ago that Democratic Sen. Todd Kamsinsky’s seat was considered a battleground, tossup race that could decide who gains the upper hand in controlling the state Senate.

Kaminsky’s district, was once a consistently Republican one that had been represented by the scandal-scarred former Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

But Kaminsky in the current election cycle has built up a campaign war chest that is unusually large for a lawmaker in a minority conference who is not in a prominent leadership role.

Kaminsky’s filing made public Monday shows he has $758,227 in cash on hand after raising $427,638 in the last six months. He’s raised about $1 million in the current election cycle.

Some of his money comes from limited liability companies, a source that other candidates have said they won’t touch, and some appear to be LLCs tied to physical building locations, making their original, human donor, difficult to track. Kaminsky backs legislation that would close the “loophole” allowing unlimited donations through a web of LLCs.

Pre-petitioning deadline, no Republican had come forward to announce a challenge to Kaminsky — an eyebrow-raising development for a district that was the source of a hard-fought special election fill the seat vacated by Skelos when was ejected from the state Senate following his conviction on corruption charges. He’s since drawn Francis Becker as his Republican challenger.

Long Island is set to be a battleground once again for control of the narrowly divided chamber, where Republicans hold the advantage thanks to their alliance with Democratic Sen. Simcha Felder, who conferences with them.

Democrats hope to be competitive in races for districts held by Sens. Kemp Hannon, Carl Marcellino and Elaine Phillips.

But Republicans also see an opportunity in the seat held by first-term Sen. John Brooks, a Democrat who unseated Republican Michael Venditto in 2016 in what some GOP officials regard as a fluke: Venditto’s father was indicted on corruption charges; the younger Venditto was not involved.

Meanwhile, Republicans also hope to hold seats in the Hudson Valley, where Sens. John Bonacic and Bill Larkin are retiring.

In the Larkin district, Republican Tom Basile is expected to report raising more than $132,000 in the current filing period, with $261,000 raised this cycle alone — making him a stand out among GOP candidates in an open-seat race.

Assemblyman Files Ethics Complaint Against County Dem Chair

From the Morning Memo:

Western New York Assemblyman Erik Bohen has filed a complaint against the Erie County Democratic Elections Commissioner Jeremy Zellner with the county Board of Ethics.

In a letter to the board chairman, Bohen accused Zellner of using information he acquired in his official capacity to further his personal interest as the Erie County Democratic Committee chairman.

Specifically, the assemblyman accuses Zellner of filing a Freedom of Information Law request for Democratic Committee petitions, of which he was in a position to be aware in this role as party chairman, in order to damage Bohen’s image.

Over the weekend, Zellner called the assemblyman, a Democrat who won an April special election by running on the Republican and Conservative lines, a hypocrite on social media for choosing not to seek the party’s endorsement in the fall election, and then filing the necessary paperwork to become a Democratic committee member.

He also posted the petition with Bohen’s name and address on it.

The assemblyman said he did not carry petitions or file them, and also did not authorize anyone to do so on hie behalf. He said Zellner abused his position with the BOE to further his political agenda. 

The party is endorsing current Erie County Legislator Pat Burke, who was the Democrats’ candidate in the spring special election, and lost to Boehn.

“The commissioner of the Board of Elections has extraordinary privileges to view filed documents that challenge the Democratic Party, which he also controls, and I believe that Mr. Zellner violated the intent of Erie County ethics law by advancing his own interests,” Boehn said.

“Mr. Zellner FOILed his own Democratic petitions, he only disseminated the petition with my name and address on it to the public, and he used the petition to distort the truth. I have been a Democratic Committee member for 13 years. However, I had no intentions of running for that position again this year.”

Zellner has continually defended his dual roles against those claiming they pose a conflict of interest, pointing out that Republicans and Democrats unanimously supported his appointment to serve on the Board of Elections. He said Bohen’s complaint is meritless on its face.

“The social media post referred to by Mr. Bohen was made from my political account, and raised what I strongly believe are valid questions with respect to petitions filed on his behalf,” Zellner said.

“Mr. Bohen’s action is an attempt to distract attention from those questions and the answers that may result. At a time when faith in our democracy and electoral process is already being undermined for partisan purposes, Mr. Bohen’s attempt to do the same is particularly disturbing and utterly disingenuous.”

Zellner also strongly questioned Bohen’s claim that he knew nothing about the petitions he says were filed on his behalf to become a committee member. He pointed out the petition also included Bohen’s aunt Barbara Hart, with whom he has run in the past, and the party’s zone chair, Meg Corbett, who is the assemblyman’s cousin.

Here and Now

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany and New York City with no public events scheduled as of yet.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio is in New York City with no public events scheduled.

NYC First Lady Chirlane McCray will travel to Oakland, California to participate in the Well Being Legacy Convening, and is scheduled to return to the East Coast Friday.

Vice President Mike Pence this morning meets with the secretary of state.

This afternoon, President Donald Trump and Pence meet with members of Congress.

At 7:30 a.m., Dutchess County Executive and GOP gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro will be a guest on WIBX 950 AM The Keeler Show.

At 8 a.m., GOP LG candidate Jullie Killian stops by Gary’s Restaurant, 5424 Shady Ave., Lowville.

Also at 8 a.m., John Miller, deputy commissioner of Intelligence and Counterterrorism of the NYPD, will speak to the members of the Association for a Better New York (ABNY), Roosevelt Hotel, Terrace Room, 45 East 45th St., Manhattan.

At 8:30 a.m., the NYC Department of Education Board of New York City School Support Services Inc. meets, 321 W. 44th St., Suite 601, Manhattan.

At 9 a.m., Bronx Borough President Rubén Díaz Jr., Assemblyman Marcos Crespo and NYC Councilwoman Diana Ayala attend the ribbon-cutting for FreshDirect in the South Bronx, FreshDirect Campus, 2 St. Ann’s Ave., the Bronx.

Also at 9 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie joins Assemblywoman Didi Barrett to tour Olana State Historic Site, 5720 State Route 9G, Hudson.

Also at 9 a.m., labor and community activists protest at the Amazon Web Services Summit, Javits Center, 655 W. 34th St., Manhattan.

At 10 a.m., state Sen. Michael Gianaris and Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan demand that de Blasio cancel a massive, unfair tax bill levied against the Citylights complex, City Hall steps, Manhattan.

Also at 10 a.m., the state Senate Labor Committee and the Economic Development Committee meet for a joint public hearing to examine the minority and women-owned business enterprise program, 11th floor conference room, Dulles State Office Building, 317 Washington St., Watertown.

At 10:30 a.m., Killian stops by the Lewis County Fair “Big Cheese Auction,” Lewis County Fairgrounds, 5485 Bostwick St., Lowville.

Also at 10:30 a.m., Ulster County Executive Mike Hein and the Ulster County Veteran Services Agency will discuss the schedule of events and details regarding the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall July 18-23, Ulster County executive’s office, 244 Fair Street, 6th floor, Kingston.

At 11 a.m., Queens Borough President Melinda Katz attends a ribbon-cutting for Big Bush Park, Big Bush Park, 61st Street and Queens Boulevard, Woodside.

Also at 11 a.m., Assemblyman Sean Ryan will join Jessie Fisher, of Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and community members to call for Ellicott Development to stop plans to demolish 619 & 621 West Delavan Avenue to build new townhomes, and instead rehabilitate the existing structures, Buffalo.

At noon, Killian stops by the GOP Booth at Lewis County Fair, 5485 Bostwick St., Lowville.

At 2 p.m., LG Kathy Hochul joins Assemblywoman Deborah Glick to demand the GOP-controlled Senate return to Albany to vote on the Reproductive Health Act, City Hall, Manhattan.

At 3 p.m., Killian visits the Jefferson Rehabilitation Center, 453 Gaffney Dr., Watertown.

At 6 p.m., there will be an open meeting of the New York County Democratic Organizations’ Judiciary Committee, County Office, 108 West 39th St., Manhattan.

At 7 p.m., Killian attends the Lewis County Parade, 485 Bostwick St., Lowville.

At 8 p.m., Hochul will be a guest on Spectrum News’ “Capital Tonight.”

Headlines…

President Trump stood with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and publicly challenged the conclusion of his own intelligence agencies that Moscow interfered in the 2016 election, wrapping up what he called a “deeply productive” summit meeting with an extraordinary show of trust for a leader accused of attacking American democracy.

Trump condemned the Justice Department’s investigation of his campaign’s ties to Russia as a “disaster for our country,” suggested the FBI deliberately mishandled its investigation of Russia’s hacking of the DNC, and labeled an FBI agent who testified about that investigation before Congress as a “disgrace to our country.”

Members of Congress – including some powerful Republicans – were quick to rebuke Trump’s performance on the world stage and his refusal to call Putin out for interfering in the US election.

Buffalo Republican Rep. Chris Collins, a longtime Trump ally, defended the summit, saying it’s time for special counsel Robert Mueller to wrap up his investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

Former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, a Trump attorney, praised the president’s press conference with Putin as “professional” and “very good,” adding: “I thought the two have a very good relationship, which we all want.”

Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen tweeted his support for U.S. intelligence agencies and berated Russia in a clear rebuke of his old boss’s Helsinki press performance.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich — one of Trump’s strongest allies — said the president’s performance alongside Putin was “the most serious mistake of his presidency.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the president is “putting himself over our country,” and causing Americans to wonder if the “only explanation” for Trump’s performance alongside Putin is that the Russian president “holds damaging information over President Trump.”

Months after hundreds of immigrant youth were separated from their parents at the southwestern border and sent to New York, some are now being sent back south to rejoin them, as part of the government’s effort to meet a court-ordered deadline of July 26 for all families to be reunited.

A 29-year-old gun-rights activist served as a covert Russian agent while living in Washington, gathering intelligence on American officials and political organizations and working to establish back-channel lines of communications for the Kremlin, federal prosecutors charged.

The Democrat-leaning southern city of Charlotte, N.C. has reluctantly agreed to host the 2020 Republican National Convention, at which Trump will presumably be nominated to seek a second four-year term.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo heads into his bid for a third term with more than $31 million in his campaign account after raising $6 million over the past six months, his campaign said.

Cuomo’s Democratic primary opponent Cynthia Nixon said she raised about $1.6 million from 30,500 donations since she launched her candidacy in March, while Republican candidate Marcus Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive, raised $1.1 million and will have about $887,000 in the bank, his campaign said.

Cuomo, who is seeking to be elected to a third term, raised more than $6 million in the first six months of 2018, but he also spent more than $5 million, according to preliminary figures released by his campaign. He has recently begun buying some TV ads in New York City — a luxury that Nixon may have to do without for now.

The governor’s campaign sought to highlight its small donors after he drew criticism for mainly getting large contributions, noting 57 percent of its contributions – or about 1,100 contributions – were for $250 or less.

Some attendees at a Cuomo fundraiser held at the Surf Lodge in the Hamptons last weekend were not happy he didn’t show up at the event.

Cuomo’s firewall of union support grew stronger with the endorsement of the 125,000-member District Council 37, the city’s largest public employee union.

Former state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman refunded nearly $1 million to more than 150 campaign donors after he was accused of beating four women and quit, but still has $7.4 million on hand.

The Democratic candidates hoping to oust Western New York’s two Republican House members, Collins and Rep. Tom Reed, continue to struggle financially while the two incumbents sit on million-dollar campaign war chests.

NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer raised nearly $825,000 in the first 6-month filing period for the 2021 city elections, a relatively fast start in what’s expected to be a crowded field for the mayor’s job.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Charter Revision Commission suggested lowering campaign contribution limits and increasing the cap on matching funds to create a fairer election process, according to the body’s 120-page preliminary staff report.

Charter Revision Commission staff will also say the city should consider moving to instant runoff voting — which lets voters rank multiple picks, instead of voting for a single candidate — for its local elections.

More >

Extras

Mariia Butina, a Russian woman who tried to broker a pair of secret meetings between candidate Donald Trump and the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, during the 2016 presidential campaign, was charged today and accused of carrying out a secret Russian effort to influence American politics.

Trump seemed optimistic at the conclusion of his meeting today with Putin in Helsinki, Finland, calling it a “very, very good start for everybody.”

Putin kept Trump waiting for an hour at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, but once the meeting was underway it stretched to more than two hours.

Trump said he directly asked Putin about Russia’s interference in the U.S. 2016 election, and the Russian president was “extremely strong and powerful in his denial.”

“They said they think it’s Russia; I have President Putin, he just said it’s not Russia,” Trump said, only moments after the Russian president conceded that he had favored Trump in the election because of his promises of warmer relations with Moscow. “I will say this: I don’t see any reason why it would be.”

In an extraordinary scene, Trump said the allegations against Russia had created doubts about the legitimacy of his win over Democrat Hillary Clinton and emphasized that there had been no evidence of collusion during a press conference watched around the world.

Asked directly by an Associated Press reporter whether or not it’s true that Russian intelligence has compromising material, or “kompromat,” that it can use to blackmail rump, Putin did not exactly deny it.

Former CIA Director John Brennan said on Twitter that Trump’s meeting with Putin “rises to & exceeds the threshold of ‘high crimes & misdemeanors,'” and was “nothing short of treasonous.”

Republicans across the ideological spectrum delivered pointed rebukes to Trump after his extraordinary news conference with Putin, with outgoing House Speaker Paul Ryan admonishing the president and declaring: “There is no moral equivalence between the United States and Russia.”

NY-21 Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik also broke with Trump on the meeting, tweeting: “As I have said many times before, but worth repeating…I believe Russia is an adversary and we must continue to work with our allies to counter Russia’s influence around the world. I disagree with the President’s statement today.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is launching an investigation to determine if White House senior adviser Jared Kushner’s family real estate company harassed tenants at a Brooklyn waterfront property so that they would leave their rent-stabilized apartments, officials said.

Marybeth Tining, a notorious Schenectady baby-killer who has spent 30 years in prison for smothering her infant and was suspected in the deaths of her other children, could be sprung as early as next month after her seventh try at parole was successful, the state Department of Corrections said.

AG candidate Zephyr Teachout’s small-dollar fundraising surged past the Democratic Party nominee for the office, NYC Public Advocate Tish James, in the first reporting period of the race to replace former AG Eric Schneiderman, according to numbers provided by the campaign to The Intercept.

New York officials are still unwilling to disclose basic financial information about the state’s under-performing movie studio in DeWitt, despite calls for greater transparency following felony convictions of the men who dreamed it up and built it.

The de Blasio administration, federal, state and local elected officials, and industry experts unveiled Freight NYC – a $100 million plan to overhaul the city’s aging freight distribution systems through strategic investments to modernize our maritime and rail assets and create new distribution facilities.

The NYPD, impatient at the slow pace of the federal government’s civil rights investigation into the death of Eric Garner in July 2014, told the U.S. Justice Department that it would soon start disciplinary proceedings against the officers involved in the killing in the absence of federal action.

Former prosecutor Preet Bharara offered some advice to Cuomo on what to do with campaign contributions from now-convicted Syracuse developers in the Buffalo Billion case, tweeting: “…just return the money.”

NY-14 Democratic candidate Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez: “Unemployment is low because everyone has two jobs. Unemployment is low because people are working 60, 70, 80 hours a week and can barely feed their family.”

Gerson Borrero says Cuomo might have a problem in his native Queens, where fellow Democrats are increasingly disenchanted with him.

The state is exploring the possibility of authorizing online sports gambling without legislative action, according to a report at today’s meeting of the state Gaming Commission.

NY-24 Rep. John Katko stocked up on campaign cash last month as Dana Balter spent more than $342,000 to win a Democratic primary election over Juanita Perez Williams, new campaign finance reports show.

The state DOT removed flagpoles at a pair of sites along Interstate 490 last week – a move that has upset some local veterans groups.

Verizon this month reached a deal with state regulators to expand its high-speed internet services in New York and repair its existing telephone infrastructure.

Now that public hearings on the matter are over, there is no deadline for the state Labor Department to decide whether to end the tipped wage in New York.

Cuomo, Nixon Release Fundraising Top Lines

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign on Monday announced it had raised more than $6 million during the first half of the year and has $31.1 million in cash on hand.

His primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, raised $500,000 over the last month, spread among 10,500 donations.

The contributions that are fueling the two campaigns have become an issue in the race for the Democratic nomination given Nixon’s criticism of Cuomo’s high-dollar donors.

Last week, developers who have given to Cuomo’s campaigns in the past were found guilty of rigging bids as part of the governor’s Buffalo Billion economic development program. The contributions themselves were not a part of the trial.

But the trial has highlighted the overlap of donors and those with business before the state.

“This dramatic increase in fundraising is just one example of the surge of grassroots energy we’ve felt since Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s victory,” said campaign manager Hayley Prim. “She showed that when everyday people come together it is possible to defeat establishment candidates with huge war chests from Wall Street and real estate developers.”

It’s also a line of attack picked up by Republican gubernatorial candidate Marc Molinaro.

“Andrew Cuomo’s $31 million campaign warchest is an indictment of his character,” he said in a statement. “A number this large reeks of corruption. It screams: ‘I’m for sale”, which two sickening federal corruption trials have already shown us.”

But Cuomo has sought to highlight his own small-dollar donations. His campaign reported the median contribution was $150 and 57 percent of contributions were of $250 or less. Eighty-four percent of his total donors came from New York.

At the same time, Cuomo’s campaign transferred $400,000 to the state Democratic Committee, which he controls, to fund a campaign highlighting gun control legislation and an effort to elect down-ballot Democrats for the state Senate and House.

Cuomo has also maxed out to Democrats running for the state Senate, contributing $7,000 to Anna Kaplan, Peter Harckham, Monica Martinez, Lou D’Amaro, Karen Smythe, James Gaurghan and incumbent Sen. John Brooks.

He also gave the maximum $21,000 contribution to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul’s campaign, who is being challenged by New York City Councilman Jumaane Williams

The figures released Monday were “top line” numbers and a full list of the donors as well as spending activity will be made available when the report is posted on the state Board of Elections website.

Schneiderman 2018 Returns $982K

The campaign of disgraced former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman returned nearly $1 million in contributions following his resignation amid allegations of domestic violence.

A campaign filing made public Monday shows Schneiderman returned $982,192 to donors.

Schneiderman, who had planned to seek a third term this year, still has $7.4 million in cash on hand.

It does not appear his campaign is spending money on legal fees related to the domestic violence allegations. The filing shows the campaign has continued to pay vendors through this month.

There had been a push by Republicans in the state Senate to have the money Schneiderman donated to other campaigns to efforts that combat domestic violence.

For Now, AG Candidates Have Some Parity On Fundraising

It’s still early, but the unexpected resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman following domestic violence allegations set off a scramble to replace him — and raise money to mount a competitive bid.

With five candidates — four Democrats and one Republican — in the mix, the fundraising for now has shown some parity when it comes to total amounts raised over the last two months, at least for now.

Take Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, who is set to report having raised $1.1 million. He will report $4.1 million in cash on hand.

It’s not clear how much of that will have been transferred from another account. But Maloney’s campaign points to 1,500 individual donations and 90 percent of the contributions coming in at $200 or less.

Republican Keith Wofford, meanwhile, also raised $1 million and has $1 million in cash on hand.

He’s received support from the New York Republican Committee, including $150,000 transfer and a personal loan of $100,000. Republican Chairman Ed Cox gave Wofford’s bid $44,000.

Williams Endorses Salazar In Bid To Oust Dilan

Jumaane Williams, the Democrat running a primary bid against Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, has endorsed the campaign of Julia Salazar against Sen. Marty Dilan in Brooklyn.

“Jumaane Williams has worked relentlessly to advocate for tenants and to bring the voices of our communities with him to City Hall,” Salazar said. “His bold leadership is exactly what we need in Albany, and I’m thrilled to endorse Jumaane to be our next Lieutenant Governor.”

The endorsement is interesting, given Dilan, though a longtime incumbent, has never bolted from the mainline Democratic conference in the state Senate. Several former members of the now-defunct Independent Democratic Conference have gained primary challengers, who have been buoyed by the support of incumbent officeholders in recent weeks.

“Julia is a strong progressive advocate who understands that people come before politics, and that incumbency cannot be the sole driver of an elected official,” Williams said. “I am proud to endorse her grassroots campaign for the New York State Senate, and look forward to working with her to create a more fair and equitable state.”

Peralta Launches Digital Ad Touting DREAM Act, Sanctuary State Support

Sen. Jose Peralta on Monday released a digital ad that highlights the diversity of his Queens district and his support for the DREAM Act as well as making New York a sanctuary state.

The digital ad comes ahead of Peralta’s Sept. 13 Democratic primary, facing Jessica Ramos, a former aide to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Peralta, a former member of the now-dissolved Independent Democratic Conference, pointed to his backing of the DREAM Act, which would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants. The bill has stalled in the state Senate, where Republicans have campaigned against the measure’s enactment.

At the same time, the sanctuary state legislation, which would bar New York law enforcement from coordinating with federal immigration enforcement efforts, has failed to gain traction in the Senate, either.

“Right now, only 5 to 10 percent of Dreamers attend college, and affordability is the biggest factor when undocumented students decide whether or not to go to college,” Peralta said. “As the lead sponsor I have made it my duty to support and be a champion for all the immigrants in my community and across the state.”