Nick Reisman

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NY-22: Republican Candidate Says He’ll Hold Town Halls, But Not Talk Trump Investigations

Republican candidate for Congress George Phillips will hold a pair of town halls in Binghamton and Utica next month as he runs for the GOP nomination in the 22nd House district.

The only stipulation: He won’t talk about investigations into President Donald Trump’s administration or finances. Instead, he wants to focus on pocketbook issues, immigration and national security concerns.

“I will answer questions on any topic except for the Trump investigations,” Phillips said. “We need to focus on real issues such as jobs, the economy, health care, immigration and national security.”

Phillips is running for the Republican nod in a district that Trump won in 2016 by 16 percentage points against Democrat Hillary Clinton. Trump last year campaigned for and fundraised with Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney, who lost to Democrat Anthony Brindisi.

Tenney last year sought to tie herself closely to the president in what turned into a Democratic wave year. Next year the district is being eyed by Republicans as a potential pickup opportunity with Trump back at the top of the ticket.

“President Trump has been investigated almost non-stop since days after his election,” Phillips said. “A more than two year investigation from a special counsel found nothing and yet Nancy Pelosi and House Democrats continue to focus their agenda on investigating him and wasting taxpayer time and money.”

Former Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report determined there was not enough evidence to sufficiently show the president or his campaign worked with Russian intelligence agents to interfere in the election.

But the report also did not exonerate Trump for seeking to stymie or block the investigation from proceeding.

Broome County District Attorney Steve Cornwell is also seeking the Republican nomination in the 22nd congressional district.

DOJ Won’t Charge Officer In Garner Death, James Says Police Reform Push Continues

The push to reduce violent and deadly interactions between police officers and civilians will continue, Attorney General Letitia James said Tuesday, after the Department of Justice declined to file charges against the New York City police officer who held Eric Garner in a choke hold before he died.

In a statement, James blasted federal prosecutors for not bringing charges in the case that, along with others, have led a nationwide call for police and criminal justice law changes.

“The entire world saw the same devastating video five years ago, and our eyes did not lie,” James said.

“Today’s inaction reflects a DOJ that has turned its back on its fundamental mission – to seek and serve justice. In times like these, we must remember that the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice. In memory of Eric Garner and all others who have lost their lives unjustly, we will continue to fight for reforms to a criminal justice system that remains broken.”

James, who took office this year, has pushed for various reforms, including that officers wear body cameras and has called for the creation of a special prosecutor’s office to handle police misconduct cases.

Public Financing Advocates Seek To Shape Commission’s Work

From the Morning Memo:

Supporters of publicly financed campaigns are urging top state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo to embrace a package of recommendations outlined in a letter sent this week that would guide how an election law panel would function.

The panel, named earlier this month by Cuomo and the Democratic and Republican leaders in the Assembly and Senate, is being tased with developing the framework of a system of publicly financed campaigns as well as additional election law changes, including a potential end to fusion voting.

The coalition that comprises Fair Elections for New York in the letter called for the commission to act with independence and to listen to outside experts on the issues at stake. At the same time, the coalition urged the commission to act in daylight and with transparency, while also giving the public opportunities to weigh in.

As for public financing itself, the coalition has a specific set of goals in mind: A 6-to-1 public matching system, attainable thresholds for candidates to qualify for public financing, the creation of an oversight unit outside the state Board of Elections and a cap on public funds.

And the group wants all state races covered, including state legislative, and district attorney races for primaries and general elections.

“The Public Financing Commission has lots of work to do, and less than five months to do it,” said Rosemary Rivera, the co-executive director of Citizen Action in a statement.

“We want a real public process without political interference, so that the People, statewide, can weigh in meaningfully on the creation of a system that will finally transform the way Albany works.”

Cuomo Campaign Announces $4.5M Fundraising Haul

From the Morning Memo:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fundraising into his third term has not slowed down.

Cuomo’s campaign on Monday evening reported raising $4.5 million in the first six months of 2019. His campaign, which began the year with $4.7 million in the bank, now has $8.4 million in cash on hand.

Cuomo is considered a prodigious fundraiser, and has held events big and small throughout the first half of the year, including fundraisers at Yankees games, with the actor Robert DeNiro and small-dollar donor events as well.

Cuomo’s campaign over the last year has placed more emphasis than in the past on small-dollar donations, and in the current reporting period the campaign said half of its donations were from contributors who gave $250 or less.

The governor spent heavily compared to his challengers last year, Democratic primary rival Cynthia Nixon and Republican opponent Marc Molinaro, saturating the airwaves and social media sites with ads in spending they would never be able to match.

Cuomo has indicated he will seek a fourth term in 2022.

Santabarbara Backs New Limo Safety Bills

From the Morning Memo:

Democratic Assemblyman Santabarbara announced Monday he will sponsor three new bills meant to strengthen limousine safety in New York.

Support for the legislation comes after lawmakers agreed to only a handful of new limousine safety measures at the end of the legislative session in June, disappointing the family members of those who have died in stretch limo crashes in New York.

The bills Santabarara is backing include new regulations for seatbelts and safety bars in high-occupancy vehicles as well as one that requires drivers who operate high-occupancy vehicles to have commercial driver’s licenses. And he’s backing a bill that would impound limousines and other high-occupancy vehicles that do not have an operating horn.

“These bills are aimed at preventing tragedies by strengthening regulations and improving standards to ensure the safety of passengers,” he said.

Lawmakers approved new safety and insurance requirements for limousines this year after a stretch limo crash in Schoharie killed 20 people, the deadliest transportation crash in a decade.

DiNapoli Endorses Bellone’s Third Term Bid

From the Morning Memo:

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli on Tuesday is set to endorse the re-election bid of Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone.

Bellone is seeking a third term against Republican county Comptroller John Kennedy.

“Steve Bellone is fighting every day to protect taxpayers’ dollars by focusing on reforms that make government more efficient, effective and accountable,” DiNapoli said in a statement. “This November, I urge you to join me in re-electing County Executive Bellone to continue the progress made in Suffolk County.”

Bellone’s campaign, meanwhile, is also set to announce having raised $461,000 in the last six months and has more than $2 million in cash on hand for his re-election bid.

Here And Now

Good morning and happy Tuesday. We’re getting a heat wave, maybe, later this week.

Happening today:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany, with nothing public planned at the moment.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is meeting privately with the mayor of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

At 11 a.m., Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie will join Assemblywoman Judy Griffin to visit Operation S.P.L.A.S.H. (Stop Polluting Litter and Save Harbors), 202 Woodcleft Avenue, Freeport.

Also at 11 a.m., NYS Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball and the Finger Lakes Land Trust will celebrate the conservation of 700 acres of farmland on the sixth-generation Brock Acres Farm. The Commissioner will also announce a major milestone reached in the number of acres of farmland protected in New York State under the State’s Farmland Protection program. Brock Acres Farm, 2291 Brace Rd., Canandaigua.

At 11:30 a.m., Heastie visits Otto’s Sea Grill 271 Woodcleft Avenue, Freeport.

At 12:30 p.m., Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul will deliver remarks at the New York State Economic Development Council Conference, 1 Pace Plaza, New York City.

At 1 p.m., Heastie visits Rockville Centre Fire Department, 103 Maple Avenue, Rockville Centre.

Headlines:

The manual recount in the Democratic race for Queens district attorney is finally underway.

A united show of defiance in the face of racist comments from the leader of most powerful nation on earth. In a short press conference, Representatives Ayanna Pressley, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ocasio-Cortez responded.

After days in seclusion, some residents of the Port Richmond neighborhood finally ventured outside Monday.

In three separate media appearences on Monday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked a variation of the same question about his one-time rival, Mayor Bill de Blasio: Will he use his emergency powers as governor to suspend the mayor from office?

Mayor de Blasio sat down with Errol Louis to respond to criticism that he was on the presidential campaign trail during Saturday’s blackout in midtown.

The mayor also discussed his first fundraising numbers for his presidential campaign and President Trump’s immigration raids.

It will likely take several weeks to determine the exact cause of Saturday night’s blackout in Manhattan, which left more than 70,000 customers in the dark at its peak.

When the weather gets nice, the sound of dirt bikes and all terrain vehicles ring out across Albany and city officials are now looking to crack down on them.

It’s Amazon Prime Day, but many homeowners in Schodack say they aren’t shopping — as the proposed Amazon distribution facility is moving forward. Some homeowners are still working to stop the online retailer from moving in.

Legal sports betting is set to come to the Capital Region this week. Rivers Casino in Schenectady is still waiting for the final approval, but is confident its new sports betting lounge will be open for business Tuesday morning.

Local governments that want to raise property taxes next year will be limited to two percent increases, according to a determination set last week by Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

During a 2012 meeting at JFK Airport in New York City, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, D, said state officials indicated they wanted to move in the direction of a new professional football stadium in downtown Buffalo.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia next month will step down from the post she has held since 2015, her office confirmed on Monday.

State Police are investigating a crash that involved a trooper in western New York on I-90.

In just six months, revamp efforts will begin on the Boulevard Mall.

Developers of The Kingstonian in Uptown Kingston recently caught a planning mistake about six months after they first applied to build the massive project, and they are now trying to fix it, according to several people familiar with the project.

Gold Star families were recognized in Newburgh on Monday, as a portion of State Route 300 was renamed in honor of those who died in the line of duty and their family members.

In national news:

After a series of tweets led to a heated exchange between Democrats and President Trump, the two sides are now debating competing visions of America.

The president’s latest public provocation is being met with exhausted and faded resistance from some Republicans who have been critical of him in the past as he remains strong with his own party.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi criticized a fallback plan from the White House for increasing the debt limit, which is putting pressure on late-stage budget talks.

The Trump administration plans to move 80 percent of Department of Interior employees out of Washington, but some are worried this will lead to the dismantling of the Bureau of Land Management.

Five candidates are standing out in the packed Democratic presidential primary field when it comes to the latest fundraising numbers.

Former Vice President Joe Biden’s campaign is leaning heavily on deep-pocketed donors.

Hollywood A-listers and tech executives are leading Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s donor list.

Trump in 2016 lashed out at “so-called Christians” when he fumbled a question about the Bible.

White House advisor Kellyanne Conway defied a congressional subpoena and skipped an oversight hearing called by Democratic lawmakers.

From the editorial pages:

The Times Union writes the president’s tweets critical of “the squad” represent a new low for him.

The New York Post writes President Trump’s tweets were “a gift” to Democrats.

Bob McManus in The Post writes how Mayor de Blasio is bad for New York City, he helps Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s own standing.

The Daily News questions why homeless shelters in Brooklyn are deemed so expensive.

From the sports pages:

The Rays topped the Yankees 5-4.

Extras

It will likely take several weeks to determine the exact cause of Saturday night’s blackout in Manhattan, which left more than 70,000 customers in the dark at its peak.

Police are investigating after a dispute turned deadly at a NYCHA complex in East Harlem early Monday morning.

The roads and patios along the lake may be dry this week, but the threat of Lake Ontario’s flooding lake levels remains.

Feld Entertainment said it has not reached an agreement with Pegula Sports Entertainment for any more events at the Blue Cross Arena through next year.

DuPont⁠ has opened the world’s largest fermenter for probiotics production in Rochester.

The Albany Common Council is looking to strike back against illegal all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes on the city’s streets. The issue will be discussed at a meeting Monday night.

Legal sports betting is set to come to the Capital Region this week. Rivers Casino in Schenectady is still waiting for the final approval, but is confident its new sports betting lounge will be open for business Tuesday morning.

State Education Commissioner MaryEllen Elia next month will step down from the post she has held since 2015, her office confirmed on Monday.

Cuomo Signs Bill Expanding MWBE Program

A bill that extends and expands the state’s minority and women-owned business enterprises program was approved Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The measure will extend the law by five years and is meant to strengthen it by having more businesses participate in the program.

“The extension and expansion of New York’s nation-leading MWBE program will help ensure our economy is reflective of our values and of our diverse talent pool,” Cuomo said. “Diversity is New York’s greatest asset, and by signing this measure into law we will empower more women and people of color to participate in State contracts and continue our aggressive program to make contracting even more inclusive.”

The new law establishes bidding credits for low-bid construction projects to $1.4 million and will expand the size of procurements. It also requires contractors to make a good faith effort in order to retain MWBE subcontractors before applying for a waiver.

“The MWBE program is a proven success, and has helped empower minority and women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs,” said Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins. “The bill signed into law today will extend the MWBE program until 2024, continue to make the state contracting process more inclusive, and take action to combat misrepresentation.”

Gillibrand’s Presidential Campaign Raises $2.3M

The presidential campaign of U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand announced raising $2.3 million in the second fundraising quarter of the year.

Gillibrand’s campaign said the average donation was $15, with nearly all, or 95 percent coming in under $50.

The campaign ended the quarter with $8.2 million in cash on hand.

Gillibrand has struggled to gain traction in the unwieldy Democratic primary field. But with the growth in campaign donors, with the goal of 130,000 needed to qualify for debates in the fall, the campaign says it is on track to do so.

“In the second quarter, the campaign made smart investments to grow and utilize a data-driven approach to voter outreach, targeting likely supporters and employing modeling to engage new primary voters and caucus-goers,” according to a memo released by the campaign.

“Additionally, the campaign brought its national digital and data apparatuses in-house, including digital advertising and fundraising, and began placing data teams within the states to provide real time, on-the-ground targeting capabilities.”