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

Congressional Fundraising Roundup

With New York’s presidential primary behind us, we’re now looking forward to this year’s Congressional primary in June.

We’re watching eight different races from Long Island to the Finger Lakes that are either competitive this year or have been in past election cycles.

The most recent fundraising deadline was at the end of March, and filings started trickling in late last week. We have compiled the latest numbers so you don’t have to, including how much each candidate has raised overall this election cycle and how much they raised in the first quarter of this year. We have also included how much cash each candidate has on hand as of the latest filing.

Candidates are listed below in order from most-money-raised to least. Remember to click the ‘Read More’ button for the full list.

You can find more on each of these races in our Race for Congress section.

3rd Congressional District

Steve Stern (D)
Total Raised: $500,633
Total Raised First Quarter: $500,633
Cash on Hand: $444,530

Tom Suozzi (D)
Total Raised: $451,306
Total Raised First Quarter: $451,306
Cash on Hand: $374,345

Anna Kaplan (D)
Total Raised: $445,160
Total Raised First Quarter:  $445,160
Cash on Hand: $344,659

Jack Martins (R)
Total Raised: $283,598
Total Raised First Quarter: $283,598
Cash on Hand: $242,223

Jon Kaiman (D)
Total Raised: $242,379
Total Raised First Quarter: $242,379
Cash on Hand: $189,305

Philip Pidot (R)
Total Raised: $106,796
Total Raised First Quarter: $106,796
Cash on Hand: $83,696

Chad Lupinacci (R)
Total Raised: $27,720
Total Raised First Quarter: $27,720
Cash on Hand: $25,262

Jonathan Clarke (D), Dan Serota (R), and Robert Trotta (R) have not submitted a filing for the first quarter.

More >

Kaminsky Continues Ethics Push Ahead of Tuesday Election

Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky is doubling down on his commitment to push legislation addressing ethics reform in Albany if elected to the State Senate during next week’s special election.

Phoning into to The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC this morning, Kaminsky said his Republican opponent Chris McGrath does not consider corruption in the state legislature a serious problem.

“My Republican opponent really comes from the same machine that spawned Skelos and other actors that practice some shady business,” Kaminsky said. “He doesn’t bring it up. He actually says I don’t hear a lot about corruption.”

McGrath has announced his support for a bill that would strip elected officials of their pensions if convicted of a felony. He has also expressed support for term limits for state lawmakers (not just leadership positions) as a way to reduce corruption, but has been mostly silent on ethics reform otherwise. A spokesman for the Senate Republicans said in February that’s because he has not previously been involved in politics.

“Chris McGrath is not a politician and he has never before run for elected office, but he has dedicated his life to serving his community and giving back to others,” Senate Republican Spokesman Scott Reif said in a statement.

McGrath has instead focused his campaign on his involvement with the local community, including a new digital ad released Monday that highlights his work as an attorney.

The ad, titled ‘Joe Sanford’, tells the story of a man who died while serving as a firefighter. The man’s wife is featured in the ad with McGrath, who helped guarantee benefits to the family after Sanford’s death.

McGrath has also tried to tie Kaminsky to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. The Republican argues that if elected to the Senate, Kaminsky will push for less money for his district, and more for New York City.

It’s a common talking point for Republicans running for State Senate. Democrat Cecilia Tkaczyk was knocked from her Senate seat after Republicans used it in her 2014 race.

Kaminsky, like Tkaczyk, says the claim doesn’t hold water.

“I just think it’s a bogus argument. I have nothing to do with Bill de Blasio, I couldn’t frankly care less about him,” Kaminsky said. “Their whole campaign has been about that one argument. You don’t know where Chris McGrath stands on a whole bunch of issues.”

McGrath did release a plan to lower taxes for residents in the Long Island district late last month. It mostly lines up with what lawmakers passed in the state budget just a few days later.

The special election for the seat is next Tuesday, the same day of the presidential primary in New York.

NY-19: Yandik Raises $256,000 in First Quarter

Democrat Will Yandik raised $256,000 in the first quarter of this year, his campaign announced Tuesday. Yandik is one of three Democrats running to replace outgoing Congressman (and potential Candidate for Governor) Chris Gibson this November.

Yandik, who also serves as Deputy Town Supervisor in Livingston, says almost two-thirds of the donations came from inside the Congressional District, which encompasses part of the Hudson Valley and Capital Region. Almost all of the donations – 90 percent – came from donors living in New York.

“I am thrilled by the overwhelming support that we have received from individuals across upstate New York,” Yandik said in a statement. “Our strong fundraising quarter is proof that our message is resonating and our campaign will be able to take that message to every corner of the district.”

Yandik is running against Fordham Law Professor and former Gubernatorial Candidate Zephyr Teachout for the Democrat line. Her campaign announced last week that they raised $530,000 in the first quarter of this year – more than double Yandik’s results.

Yandik’s campaign, however, says they are gaining momentum. In today’s release, they say half of their donations came during the month of March. The fundraising deadline was March 31.

The third Democrat in the race, John Kehoe, has not released fundraising results for the first quarter. Full filings are expected to be available on the FEC website later this week.

Cuomo and DOH Announce Action Plan for Zika Virus

Governor Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker, Thursday, announced a 6-point action plan to prevent the spread of the Zika Virus in New York.

The Department of Health has identified nine counties in the New York City area, the northern suburbs and Long Island as areas of outbreak. The virus is spread through either sexual contact or by a specific strain of mosquito, which Zucker says makes up about three to five percent of mosquitoes in New York.

The plan focuses on stopping the spread of that type of mosquito while providing services to those who may be impacted by the virus.

The state will distribute 100,000 larvicide tablets for residents to use in standing water where the mosquitoes typically reproduce. They will also distribute 1,000 mosquito traps to study the population. Zucker says that will include testing 60,000 mosquitoes per month at a lab in Albany.

They will also distribute 20,000 Zika kits for pregnant women, who can find them at health care providers in the affected areas. A Rapid Response Team will also be formed to visit areas where Zika has been found, or if Zika continues to spread north.

Zucker is also requiring local health officials to develop their own Zika action plans to be used in the case of a widespread outbreak. His department is also launching a public awareness campaign on the virus.

Evidence suggests that Zika virus may be linked to microcephaly, a condition where children are born with less than average size heads and possible neurological issues. Zucker says about 80 percent of people who have the virus do not exhibit symptoms, though the virus can also lead to paralysis or death.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 193 travel-related cases of Zika Virus had been identified in the United States as of March 9. Governor Cuomo says 49 cases have been identified in New York and the number is expected to increase.

Morelle: Lower Wage Hike Proposals Being Discussed

Lawmakers have discussed a minimum wage hike lower than the Governor’s proposal for $15, Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said Thursday.

There has been concern among lawmakers who remain against the governor’s proposal that raising the minimum wage to $15 could be too steep of an increase for businesses to handle. Morelle said some lawmakers have offered proposals lower than $15, but would not confirm an alternate amount.

“Our proposal has $15 as does the governor’s but I’ve heard different numbers being talked about,” Morelle said. “But it could be any number between – the current one is $9 … anywhere between $9 and $15 I guess.”

The wage hike has been a concern for business groups, who have rallied against the governor’s proposal this year. Groups that represent non for profit companies have also spoken out against the idea, saying the state funding that many of them receive would not be enough to cover an increase.

“If you’re in upstate New York, one of the things that we have all expressed concerns about is not only the impact on small business but many of the non for profits who really rely on state funding to be able to provide service to the developmentally disabled, the elderly,” Morelle said.

One idea that has been thrown around is the possibility of a longer phase-in to $15, something supporters of the governor’s proposal have rallied against.

“I think there’s sensitivity to either a longer implementation schedule or potentially I’ve heard the talk of even maybe a lower wage [increase],” Morelle said. “I think the Assembly is clear on what our position is but I think the Speaker has been clear that he’s always open to a conversation as long as we end up in a pretty good place.”

Assembly Open to Tax Credits in Paid Family Leave Deal

Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle said Thursday his chamber would be open to providing tax credits to small businesses who may be impacted financially by the governor’s paid family leave proposal.

Governor Cuomo has made a strong push for a statewide paid family leave program in New York this session. His proposal would provide 12 weeks of leave, paid for by a small payroll deduction. Some business groups have blasted the plan, calling it a “burden on small businesses.”

The Assembly has already passed its own version of paid family leave, which would expand the temporary disability insurance fund to finance the program. The bill does not currently include exemptions for small businesses, something Morelle said the Assembly is not keen on.

“I don’t think we want to exempt small businesses from it,” Morelle said. “I think we’ve made clear that potentially ways to help small businesses is something we’re open to.”

One of those ways could be a tax credit to ease the possible financial strain on small businesses if lawmakers come to an agreement on paid family leave.

“The point is well taken that smaller businesses will have less of an ability to afford that kind of disruption,” Morelle said. “So if there’s ways to design a tax credit that provides some relief I think we would be open to it.”

In their one-house budget resolution, Senate Republicans said while they favor passing some sort of paid family leave program it must keep small businesses in mind.

Governor Cuomo said earlier this week that he would like to see both a hike in the state’s minimum wage and a resolution on paid family leave included in this year’s budget agreement. Morelle said today that the Assembly is taking a similar position.

“I expect that there will be an increase in the minimum [wage], which I certainly hope so,” Morelle said. “I think the Speaker has made it clear that we have every expectation and we would not finalize a budget wihout that and without paid family leave.”

A final spending plan is due in two weeks ahead of the start of the state’s fiscal year on April 1.

Gottfried Bills Would Expand Medical Marijuana Program

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried has introduced four bills to expand on the current medical marijuana program in New York.

Since the program became operational in January, the Department of Health says 1,565 patients have been certified by the 455 physicians who are registered to prescribe the medication. Five companies have been approved to produce and sell medical marijuana across the state.

Gottfried’s bills, introduced this week, would change the regulations of the program with a goal of reducing the cost of the program while improving treatment and accessibility to the drug.

The first would remove the limit of how many companies could produce and sell the drug. Companies would also be allowed to contract work out to ease the burden of production and distribution.

Companies must currently produce the drug in their own facilities, then ship it using their own vehicles to their own dispensaries. This bill would allow producers to contract those shipping services.

The bill would also allow producers to collaborate and contract with each other to provide better accessibility to different strains of the drug.

The second bill in the set would allow nurse practitioners and physician assistants to prescribe medical marijuana. Under current law, only licensed (and registered) physicians are allowed to prescribe the drug. When it was passed in 2014, the law also allowed the Health Commissioner to include nurse practitioners in the program, but Gottfried says the department has not chosen to do so.

The third bill would expand on the current list of conditions where medical marijuana is allowed to be prescribed. The program currently limits treatment to a list of conditions found on their website. The Department of Health does have the authority to add conditions to that list.

This bill would allow the drug to be prescribed to treat severe or chronic pain, regardless of the diagnosed condition. That would open the program to patients that may be suffering from long-term pain associated with a condition that has not been approved by the Department of Health.

The fourth bill would allow patients to smoke the drug, in addition to using oil from the medical cannabis plant. The form of the drug was a point of contention in the initial debate over medical marijuana. Governor Cuomo was against making the drug available to smoke at the time, but advocates have said smoking the drug would make it easier for them to regulate their dose.

Gottfried was also a proponent of an expedited medical marijuana program during last year’s legislative session. A bill was passed that would have created a program ahead of the January start date, but it never came to fruition.

*We traveled to Minnesota in August to compare their medical marijuana program to New York’s. Check out our series here.

Flanagan Hints at Targeted Senate Races

Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan hinted, Friday, at a few races where his conference is planning to run candidates.

Speaking at the State Republican Convention, Flanagan said they are looking to run strong candidates in races across the state.

“All of you are acutely aware we have a potentially excellent candidate for a Western New York Senate seat. I’ll leave you to guess who that may be,” Flanagan said. “We have an excellent prospect down in Westchester. We have an excellent prospect for Senator Martins’s seat.”

Jack Martins is running to replace outgoing Congressman Steve Israel in the 3rd Congressional District on Long Island. If he wins the seat, that will leave his seat in the Senate open. One strategy for Democrats to win back the majority in the chamber has been through Long Island where they are currently running Todd Kaminsky to fill the seat once occupied by former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

No candidates have filed to replace Martins for the seat in the Senate, according to filings with the state Board of Elections. There are a few seats in Westchester that the conference could be targeting, including that of Ruth Hassell-Thompson, who has said she will not seek another term in the office.

In Western New York, Republicans have previously targeted the seat held by Democrat Marc Panepinto, who prevailed in a four-way race in 2014 to win the seat. It was held previously by Republican Mark Grisanti.

Republicans will also have to run a candidate to replace outgoing State Senator Mike Nozzolio, a Rochester-area lawmaker. Nozzolio is leaving due to health issues.

Flanagan: Last Time I Checked We Had a Constitution

Republicans in the State Senate don’t plan on budging when it comes to raising the age of criminal responsibility and providing tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants for college. They’re also not thrilled about a recent move by the Board of Regents to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for teacher certifications.

Speaking at the State Republican Convention in Buffalo, Senate Majority Leader Flanagan laid out a handful of issues that he says his conference is not interested in taking up

Governor Cuomo made a strong push last year to pass a bill that would raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 in New York. Currently, 16 and 17-year-olds can be prosecuted as adults. Cuomo did issue an executive order that separated teen prisoners from adult prisoners but has said he would still like to see the legislature take up the issue. Flanagan says it’s a non-starter.

“We don’t think that’s good public policy because in essence what they’re trying to do is absolve people from violent and heinous and felonious crimes,” Flanagan said. “That’s not a way we think we should be going.”

The DREAM Act is also off the table, Flanagan says. It’s a bill that would provide tuition assistance to undocumented immigrants seeking financial aid to attend college. It has passed in the Assembly but Republicans continue to block it in the Senate.

“It’s taxpayer funded tuition for illegal immigrants,” Flanagan said. “We don’t support that and that resonates with people because everyone in this room struggles or has struggled in some way to take care of their family.”

Republicans also do not agree with the recent decision from the Board of Regents to allow undocumented immigrants to apply for teacher certifications. It’s a move that has not set well with GOP lawmakers who say the measure should have been approved by the legislature.

“They’re evading the law, which I think is illegal and a violation and it underscores the difference between their philosophy and their priority,” Flanagan said of the Board of Regents and the Assembly. “That’s something we’re going to need to pay attention to because that’s subversive and other people will disagree but it’s symptomatic.”

It reflects a common theme from Republican leaders who say the Governor and state have developed a habit of bypassing the legislature. Governor Cuomo has acted alone this year on several different issues, including a minimum wage hike for fast food workers and legal protections for transgender New Yorkers.

“Periodically we have a problem with our executive because he looks at the New York State Senate and the New York State Assembly as a constitutional annoyance,” Flanagan said. “Last time I checked we had a constitution. Last time I checked we had separation of powers and last time I checked we had laws in the state of New York that are supposed to be adhered to and enforced.”

UPDATED: SolarCity Developer Says Payments Will Come Early Next Week

UPDATE: SolarCity Developer LP Ciminelli now says they have been told the payments due to contractors will be disbursed “first thing next week.” In a statement sent to TWC News Buffalo, the developer says they will be reaching out to contractors over the weekend to reverse the layoffs and get workers back on the project next week.

“As the developer for the landmark RiverBend Solar City project, we’ve been assured that the funding will be dispersed the first thing next week,” a statement from LP Ciminelli read. “We will begin getting in touch with contractors this weekend with the expectation that workers will be back on the job and the project’s construction schedule will remain on course.”

State Senator Tim Kennedy says he was told by a local union Friday afternoon that they were asked to lay off 144 employees at the SolarCity construction site in Buffalo. That was after he was told by the governor’s office and Empire State Development that no layoffs were expected.

“Our office received assurances from the state as recently as this morning that there would be no layoffs at the Solar City site,” Kennedy said in a statement. “This afternoon, we received word from Plumbers and Steamfitters Local 22 that they were told by a subcontractor on the site to lay off 144 workers as of 4:30 p.m. today. I am furious; this development is unacceptable and should be corrected immediately to prevent work delays and ensure no one is laid off. We’ve been in constant communication with the administration throughout yesterday evening and today to ensure that this situation is immediately rectified, and I won’t rest until the payment issue is corrected and the workers are back on schedule.”

News of potential layoffs broke Thursday night after WGRZ in Buffalo reported $75 million was owed in contract payments from the state.

Empire State Development released a statement shortly after the report saying the state was currently processing those payments.

“Payments are being processed and as a result we do not expect this to result in any layoffs,” ESD Spokesman Jason Conwall said in a statement. “This project remains on schedule and is still slated to be open in the Third Quarter of 2017, bringing nearly 1,500 new jobs to Western New York.”

UPDATE: Empire State Development issued an updated statement Friday evening, repeating that the payments were being processed and “all stakeholders agree this project will remain on schedule and is still slated to open in the Third Quarter of 2017.”

A source told our affiliate station in Buffalo Thursday night that there had already been layoffs at the Riverbend site prior to the initial report from WGRZ and more were expected Friday.

American Rated Cable and Communications, which is doing work on the site, told TWC News Buffalo Thursday night that they were still waiting to be paid but were not concerned about it. State Senator Tim Kennedy said in an interview Friday morning that he was told by the governor’s office payments would be made soon.

“We have been in touch with the governor’s office and ESD about this,” Kennedy said. “We have received assurances that there will be no layoffs and that everyone is going to get paid.”

Kennedy also said that before the report Thursday night, they did not know payments had not been made.

“I can tell you that prior to this report coming out last night we were unaware of this situation,” Kennedy said, “and now that we have this information we are going to be working aggressively expedite the payments.”

UPDATE (3:45): Northeast Regional Council of Carpenters confirmed to Time Warner Cable News Buffalo this afternoon that several dozen workers are being laid off from Mader Construction Company, a sub-contractor on the project.

UPDATE (4:00): Former Gubernatorial Candidate and Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino weighed in on the situation in Buffalo Friday afternoon.

“The project has been a house of cards since day one,” Astorino said in a statement. “Taxpayers are massively subsidizing a private company that is losing billions of dollars solely for the purposes of shoring up political support for the Governor and to pay off his big donors. The state must do the right thing and fulfill their obligations, but this is a glaring and very expensive example of the Governor’s economic development failures.  Fix what’s wrong with the state – corruption, sky-high taxes and strangling regulations – and then watch how we will flourish.”

UPDATE (6:00): The union that confirmed the layoffs at Mader earlier today issued a statement later in the afternoon expressing hope for payments to come though.

“We are pleased with the response from the state and are assured that the state is working to resolve these issues immediately and any layoffs will be short lived,” said Daryl Bodewes from the Northeast Carpenters Union.