Dan Clark

Dan Clark joined the Capital Tonight team as Video Producer in August 2014. Dan is based at the state capitol in Albany, where he manages field production for the statewide political unit. You can most often find him roaming the halls with a camera looking for someone to talk to. Dan also generates interactive content on the blog. He put together our exclusive Race for Congress section, which you can find above in the navigation. He has outlined competitive races statewide and an overview of the state’s delegation. If you need to get in touch with Dan, shoot him an email at: Dan.Clark@twcnews.com

Posts by Dan Clark

UPDATED: Dem State Senate Candidates Campaign On Child Sex Abuse Vote

After Republicans in the State Senate blocked a measure Monday to extend the statute of limitations for child sex abuse victims, Democratic candidates are latching on to the vote ahead of this year’s election.

Democrats had attempted to tie the amendment to a human trafficking bill from Rochester-area Republican Rich Funke. The Chair ruled that the amendment was not germane to the Funke bill. A vote to overrule failed by three votes, with 29 Democrats lending their support and the entire present majority voting against it. Two Democrats and two Republicans were absent for the vote.

Now opponents of at least three Republicans are using the vote to their advantage. Yesterday, Democrat Ryan Cronin released a statement blasting the vote. Kronin is a Democrat running to replace Long Island Senator Kemp Hannon in the sixth State Senate district.

“Kemp Hannon should be ashamed of himself for voting with his fellow Senate Republicans to block the Child Victims Act,” Cronin said in a statement. “This legislation would bring heinous criminals to justice and provide closure to thousands of New Yorkers who have been preyed upon as children. If Senator Hannon won’t break with his party to stand up for victims of childhood sexual abuse, who will he fight for?”

A spokesperson for Republicans in the State Senate responded to the statement by tying Cronin to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Ryan Cronin is a retread who already ran for this seat and was rejected by voters. That’s not really a surprise since they know he would partner with Mayor de Blasio and the New York City Democrats to shift school aid to New York City at Long Island’s expense, and raise taxes on hardworking Nassau County families who need and deserve relief.”

Further north in the 46th district, Democrat Sara Niccoli released a similar statement on Tuesday. Niccoli is running against incumbent George Amedore for the seat. The district is considered to be a toss-up after Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk first won the seat when it was drawn in 2012. Amedore defeated Tkaczyk in 2014.

“It’s appalling that George Amedore joined his fellow Senate Republicans in voting down the Child Victims Act,” Niccoli said in a statement. “This bill would deliver justice for innocent victims of child sex abuse and hold perpetrators of horrible crimes accountable. I don’t know how Senator Amedore can justify towing the party line this time around.”

Christoper Eachus, who is running against long-time Senator Bill Larkin in the Hudson Valley, also released a statement Tuesday. More >

UPDATED: NY-19: Bishop Ends Campaign for Congress

Republican Bob Bishop is dropping out of the Race for the 19th Congressional District, his campaign confirmed Tuesday.

He will withdraw his candidacy ahead of the federal primary in June, and says he will instead back John Faso for the seat.

“John Faso has shown us that he has what it takes to best represent our interests,” Bishop said in a statement. “Not only does John have the endorsement of four parties critical to winning in November, he also possess the skills and passion needed to win this race. It is time for all Republicans and Conservatives to unite behind John Faso in order to continue Congressman Gibson’s strong legacy while making sure this seat does not fall into the hands of a radical liberal like Zephyr Teachout.”

UPDATE: Faso thanked Bishop for his endorsement after the announcement Tuesday.

“I am very grateful for Bob Bishop’s support in this race, and I salute all the hard work he’s done over the past several months to voice important local economic and agricultural concerns that we share,” Faso said. “Bob’s endorsement is a meaningful one, and I look forward to his friendship and counsel both as a candidate and as a member of Congress. “

Bishop had come under scrutiny from his now-former primary opponent Andrew Heaney in recent weeks over ballot signatures. Heaney and Bishop were scheduled to appear in court to resolve the litigation this Friday.  Heaney’s campaign issues a statement later Tuesday responding to Bishop’s departure.

“Now voters will have a clear choice between John Faso, a 30 year lawyer-lobbyist and failed Albany politician versus Andrew Heaney a political outsider and conservative small businessman who wants to change the corrupt culture in Washington, DC.,” Heaney said.

Bishop’s decision narrows the Republican field in the 19th Congressional District to two candidates ahead of the primary – Faso and Heaney. Former Gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout will compete against Livingston Deputy Town Supervisor Will Yandik on the Democratic side.

The primary will be held June 28.

NY-19: Bishop and Heaney Heading to Court Over Signatures

Representatives from the campaigns of both Bob Bishop and Andrew Heaney will appear in Poughkeepsie court next Friday to resolve a dispute over ballot signatures from the Bishop campaign, a source knowledgeable of the situation confirmed.

The Heaney campaign has filed litigation over the signatures, alleging they are fraudulent. Ahead of that court date, the Bishop campaign says they will try to validate as many of their signatures as possible.

The Bishop campaign confirmed Thursday that they have hired an attorney ahead of the court date. They say they were given notice of the litigation last week.

“We are confident that this effort by Mr. Heaney’s insider consultants and his high paid lawyers will fail just as it did at the Board of Elections,” the Bishop campaign said in a statement.

Heaney’s campaign had previously appealed to the Board of Elections to invalidate Bishop’s signatures, but that appeal was thrown out.

Bishop collected 1,900 signatures for the ballot ahead of the deadline last month, with more than 1,300 declared valid by the Board of Elections. If the court rules in favor of the Heaney campaign, Bishop will not appear on the ballot, bringing the Republican primary in the 19th Congressional District down to two candidates.

Faso Campaign Launches Fake Heaney Website

From the Morning Memo:

Republican NY-19 candidate John Faso’s campaign has launched a website smearing one of his primary opponents in the race to replace retiring Rep. Chris Gibson.

In an admittedly clever move – and one employed by many tech-savvy campaigns these days – the Faso campaign registered the domain “Heaney2016.com” to use for the site.

The site features four attacks against businessman Andrew Heaney: that he supported then-Democratic Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, that he failed to pay his property taxes on a mansion in Rhode Island, that he “is an out of touch carpet bagger”, and potentially illegally funded a Super PAC.

Needless to say, the Heaney campaign is not amused.

“This is rich coming from John Faso who has been in politics long enough to invent carpet bagging, whose PAC donated to Obama, (House Minority Leader Nancy) Pelosi, (Senate Majority Leader Harry) Reid and who helped blazed the trail for Albany corruption serving a five year lobbying ban,” said Heaney spokesman David Catalfamo.

The Faso campaign fired back in a statement Thursday evening, saying: “The only truthful part of Andrew Heaney’s statement is that he spelled John Faso’s name right.”

Heaney did contribute $2,300 to Barack Obama’s 2008 bid for the White House according to FEC filings. He also gave to two GOP candidates that year – Sen. John McCain and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani – and has a history of donating to Republicans.

Heaney’s campaign has been quick to point out, however, that Faso’s old firm Manatt, Phelps and Phillips has made its own contributions to Democrats – including Pelosi and California Sen. Dianne Feinstein – during Faso’s time there.

However, it’s only fair to point out that the firm has also contributed to its fair share of Republicans, too.

On the allegations over unpaid property taxes, the website cites the Assessor’s Office in Newport, R.I. for the $2,800 in penalties Heaney is said to have racked up. We can confirm through the city’s database that Heaney did own the mansion in question, but could not find property tax records online.

The site also alleges that before Heaney moved to NY-19 in 2013, he threw what the Faso campaign says was a “Green Acres Goodbye” party. Photos on the website show people – we don’t know who they are – posing with life-size cardboard cut-outs of Andrew Heaney standing next to his wife and holding a pitchfork.

Heaney announced his run for Congress two years after moving to the district following news that Gibson would not seek re-election to pursue a potential statewide run in 2018. (As we learned this week, the retiring congressman is forgoing politics altogether in favor of a career in academia).

Decades ago, Faso followed a similar path, first running for the state Assembly just three years after moving to New York in 1983.

The last portion of the mock website references a complaint filed with the FEC by the campaign finance watchdog group Campaign for Accountability.

In the complaint, the group points to donations from Heaney’s company, Heaney Energy Corporation, to a Super PAC that now actively works against Faso. The matter has not been resolved by the FEC.

Both Heaney and Faso will compete in a primary June 28th, along with Republican Bob Bishop, whose petitions Heaney’s camp has challenged in an effort to oust him from the ballot.

Flanagan “No Closer To Signing Off” on Mayoral Control Extension

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan says he’s not convinced lawmakers should extend mayoral control of New York City schools for Mayor Bill de Blasio.

In a statement released Thursday afternoon, Flanagan said he had reviewed Wednesday’s Senate hearing on the issue and wasn’t impressed with the mayor’s testimony.

“Too often, the Mayor showed a disturbing lack of personal knowledge about the City schools,” Flanagan said in a statement. “In addition, he has left too many unanswered questions and failed to provide specifics on many of the issues raised by my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.  Until that occurs, I will not entrust this Mayor with the awesome responsibility of operating the New York City school system.”

Lawmakers voted in 2015 to extend mayoral control for one year, with an expiration date at the end of June. Senate Deputy Majority Leader John DeFrancisco suggested on Capital Tonight last night that Republicans would approve an extension, though the length of which is unclear.

De Blasio had previously requested a permanent extension to mayoral control, then offered a three-year extension to lawmakers as a compromise. Neither idea made it to the floor.

The mayor is sitting in hot water with Senate Republicans for the time being after an elections probe into his 2014 effort to help Democrats win back the chamber. De Blasio had a tense exchange with at least one Senate Republican during yesterday’s hearing.

The Senate will hold another public hearing on mayoral control on May 19 in New York City. In his statement, Flanagan encouraged the mayor to return for a second round.

Advocates Want Power Plant With Alleged Ties to Percoco Blocked

Advocates are asking Governor Cuomo to halt the construction of a power plant in Orange County and using the federal probe into former aide Joe Percoco to make their case.

Protect Orange County says they are planning to upload about 10,000 pages of documents to their website in the next few days. They say some of those documents may tie the project to Percoco through payments made to his wife by Chris Pitts LLC, a company by the same name as a former consultant to the company developing the project.

The group has organized against the project from Competitive Power Ventures because of environmental concerns surrounding the construction of a new plant. They say the approval process has been smooth for CPV because of “public relationships” within the community and state.

Lead agency status was given to the town of Waywayanda Planning Board for the almost $1 billion project rather than the Department of Environmental Conservation, which the group has also called into question. They say aside from their environmental concerns, the approval process has been one-sided.

“What was revelatory was the pattern of indifference,” said Pramilla Malick from Protect Orange County. “I think when we raised issues, the fact that we never got a response was very telling.”

Cuomo has directed his administration to suspend regulatory communications with CPV following the news of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into Percoco. Construction has already started at the site in Waywayanda, though the plant must still receive final approval from the state.

To operate, the plant still has to be approved for an interconnection to the Marcy South Line through NYPA and a lateral pipeline to the Millennium Pipeline. Both approvals are on hold.

“The CPV plant has not been approved,” Cuomo said Monday. “It’s not like the plant is operating. There was a conditional, early approval. They have to do a final agreement which has never been done.”

Advocates from Protect Orange County say withholding that final approval is not enough. They’re asking for the project to be stopped, and ultimately denied.

“The very first thing one should do is halt construction,” Malick said. “The harm is underway. There is already irreperable harm to the endangered species habitat.”

Though the group did not present clear evidence to reporters that would link Percoco to the power project at a press conference Thursday, they say the federal investigation should be enough to back up their argument.

“Why on earth would you allow a project to go forward when there is now clear suspicion on whether those approvals were proper in the first place,” Malick said.

Advocates also said they had “heard of Percoco” in association to the project, though whether that was before news broke on the investigation or after was unclear.

A spokesman from CPV did not immediately return a call for comment.

Who’s Still Running for Congress and Who’s Not

Most candidates made the cut ahead of the congressional primary, but other races are enjoying a much less crowded field heading into June according to filings posted by the Board of Elections Thursday.

In the 3rd Congressional District, State Senator Jack Martins no longer has any primary opponents. Six Republicans had filed for the seat including Martins, but only his petition signatures were declared valid by the Board of Elections.

Signatures from Republican Philip Pidot were ruled invalid, but a spokesman for his campaign says they will fight the decision.

Democrats in New York’s third congressional district are facing a loaded primary with all five candidates making the ticket. That includes Steve Stern, Jon Kaiman, Anna Kaplan, Tom Suozzi, and Jonathan Clarke.

Moving into Manhattan, eight Democrats made the ballot in the 13th Congressional District. That includes Assemblyman Keith Wright, Assemblyman Guillermo Linares, State Senator Adriano Espaillat, Suzan “Sujay” Johnson-Cook, Adam Clayton Powell, Clyde Williams, Sam Sloan, and Michael Gallagher.

Robert Evans will not face an opponent on the Republican line for the district.

Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney will not have a primary in the 18th Congressional District, and only two of the six Republican who filed to run against him will appear on the ballot in June.

Phil Oliva, who has close ties to former Republican candidate for Governor Rob Astorino, and local filmmaker Kenneth Del Vecchio will appear on the ballot. Oliva also secured the Reform Party line, created by Astorino in the 2014 race for governor.

Two candidates were bumped off the ballot in the 19th Congressional District. On the Republican side, John Faso, Andrew Heaney, and Bob Bishop will appear on the ballot.

Zephyr Teachout and Will Yandik will compete for the Democratic line. Candidates from both sides have requested debates ahead of the June primary. We’ll keep you posted on that. John Kehoe (D) and Robert Shaver (R) did not make the ballot.

No surprises in the 21st Congressional District. Neither Republican Congresswoman Elise Stefanik nor her Democratic challenger Mike Derrick will have a primary challenger in June. Matt Funiciello is also taking the Green Party line in this election cycle.

In the Southern Tier, Kim Myers is now the lone Democrat in the 22nd Congressional District. Dave Gordon’s signatures for the line were ruled invalid by the Board of Elections. On the Republican side, Assemblywoman Claudia Tenney, George Phillips, and Steven Wells will compete in a primary.

Martin Babinec’s signatures were ruled invalid by the Board of Elections for the Independence Line, but a spokesperson for the candidate told us he is still in the race.

Congressman John Katko will not face a primary challenger in the 24th Congressional District. The three Democrats who have filed to run against him will appear on the ballot in June. That’s Colleen Deacon, Eric Kingson, and Steve Williams.

In the Rochester area, it looks like a re-match between Democratic Congresswoman Louise Slaughter and Republican Mark Assini in the 25th Congressional District. The two were separated by less than 1,000 votes in 2014. Signatures from Democrat Noah Sargent were ruled invalid. Brandon Kirshner is also running as an independent in the race (not to be confused with the Independence Party.)

The full list of filings is posted on the Board of Elections website. The federal primary is June 28.


Tedisco Accepts Farley Endorsement as He Mulls Senate Run

State Senator Hugh Farley says he would endorse Assemblyman Jim Tedisco to fill his shoes come November, and Tedisco is gladly accepting the idea.

“I was pretty proud of the fact, though I didn’t ask him about it, that he wanted to endorse me to follow in his footsteps because he has some very big footsteps,” Tedisco said Monday.

The only obstacle for the 34-year Assemblyman is his life outside the state capitol. He says his first priority is his family, which he would see less while representing a much larger district in the upper chamber.

“What it’s going to take is an understanding that my family is going to be accepting that the time I’m going to be away from them is going to be expanded,” Tedisco said. “Family’s always important, they’re number one.”

Also among Tedisco’s priorities is a Republican majority in the State Senate. He says when he spoke to Farley, the long-time Senator had the same concern – that a Democrat could take his seat in November, and boost the chances of that party controlling the chamber.

“We have to keep that majority in the New York State Senate. Right now the Assembly is controlled by the one party, the comptroller’s the same party, the Governor is the same party, the Attorney General is the same party,” Tedisco said. “This is a representative Democracy and it never does well with just one affiliation. You have to have checks and balances.”

Farley would know. He’s spent 40 years in the chamber that has gone in and out of Republican control at times. This November is a critical election for Republicans, who hold a majority in the chamber as part of a coalition government with the Independent Democratic Conference. Democrat Simcha Felder is also known to conference with the Republicans.

“I know how important he feels keeping that majority in the Senate is,” Tedisco said, referring to Farley. “To have a check and balance because you’ve got to have somebody on the other side of the argument making the case.”

Tedisco says he has been contacted by the Republican conference on a possible run.

“We’ve had some conversations with them and they are very interested in containing that seat and continuing to have the majority and interested in me possibly serving in that seat,” Tedisco said.

Tedisco says he will make a decision over the next few weeks on whether he will enter the race for the 49th Senate District.

Golden: Trump as Nominee Helps Senate GOP

State Senator Martin Golden says having Donald Trump as the Republican nominee in the race for president will help the GOP not only maintain their majority in the State Senate come November, it may even help them gain a few more seats.

Donald Trump is now the presumptive nominee for his party ahead of the Republican National Convention in July after Texas Senator Ted Cruz dropped his bid Tuesday night and Ohio Governor John Kasich was confirmed to suspend his campaign later Wednesday.

The Senate Republican conference met with Kasich last month ahead of the New York primary and Golden says “we’ve all met with Mr. Trump before and he’s supported our conference in the past.”

They have not announced an endorsement for a particular candidate, though Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan has said he will support whoever ends up as the nominee.

With the delicate balance of power in the State Senate after Democrat Todd Kaminsky’s win last month, both parties are placing their focus on November. Golden says Trump’s role as the nominee will be a boost for the conference.

“I think Donald Trump will bring a tremendous number of people to the polls, bring new people out to the polls and give us an oopportunity,” Golden said. “Just in my area alone … he got 80 percent of the vote. The same thing in Staten Island of the great city and state.”

“There are areas that he will definitely help us in this great state.”

After Kaminsky’s win, there are technically 32 Democrats in the 63-member chamber. Republicans still maintain the majority because five of those Democrats (the Independent Democratic Conference) have entered into a coalition with the Republicans, and another one of the Democrats is known to conference with the GOP.

A recent Siena poll shows Trump more than 20 points behind Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton among New York voters, but Golden says that margin will most likely slim in the coming months now that Trump is the presumptive nominee.

“A week in politics is a long time, nevermind four or five months,” Golden said. “When it comes down to voting for Hillary Clinton or Mr. Sanders in November I am sure that the people of this great state and this great nation will go for the leader that’s going to bring this great country into the future and make us again great.”

Abortion Bill Fails in Senate Health Committee

A bill that would have codified the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision in New York State law was voted down in the Senate Health committee Wednesday.

The vote was split mostly between party lines in the committee, with eight Republicans voting against the bill and seven Democrats voting for it. Simcha Felder, a Democrat who has conferenced with Republicans in the chamber, also voted against the legislation.

The bill has been a controversial one in the chamber where members of the Republican majority have largely been against it. State Senator John Bonacic had indicated earlier this session that he may support it if it came to the floor.

Previously known as the ‘Reproductive Health Act’, the bill would have preserved the Roe v. Wade decision into New York State law. That way if the decision was reversed at the federal level, women in New York would still – in theory – have access to abortion services.

The bill has been carried by Senate Democratic Leader Andrew Stewart-Cousins for several years now. It was defeated in the Health Committee by one vote in 2014.

After today’s vote, Stewart-Cousins defended the legislation, typing opposition from Republicans to GOP Presidential Candidate Donald Trump.

“Once again Senate Republican Majority have appeased  the right wing extremists being led by their party’s Presidential nominee Donald Trump by again rejecting a women’s right to make their own health decisions,” Stewart-Cousins said in a statement. “This legislation would simply codify current federal law into New York State law to ensure women’s reproductive health rights are protected. In 1970, a dozen Senate Republicans joined with their Democratic colleagues to guarantee women’s reproductive rights in New York State. It’s sad and troubling that today’s Republican conference does not have the same courage and continues to reaffirm that they’re against women’s reproductive health rights.”

In 2013, lawmakers and Governor Cuomo tried to push the bill through the Senate by including it in a package of legislation referred to as the ‘Women’s Equality Act’. During last year’s session, lawmakers passed the majority of the ten-point package after they decided to split them into individual bills.