Attorney General

Rice’s $620K

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice’s campaign just announced she has raised more than $620,000 over the past month and now has $4.4 million on hand heading into the final stretch of the Democratic AG primary.

“We have assembled the widest coalition of grassroots support of any candidate in this race,” said Rice campaign manager Jeffrey Stein.

“What we are seeing here is that as voters begin to pay more attention to this race, the momentum is swinging our way and the race is breaking towards the candidate most capable of cleaning up Albany, holding Wall Street accountable, and protecting New York families.”

Rice had $4.17 million on hand in mid-July. That was the most of any of the five Democratic AG contenders, although Sean Coffey dumped another $1 million into his campaign in an effort to bring his on-hand total almost on par with hers.

Her campaign says it filed the 32-day pre-primary report – the last fundraising report prior to the Sept. 14 primary – with the state Board of Elections today, but it’s not yet available on-line.

Thompson For Schneiderman

Former NYC Comptroller and 2009 Democratic mayoral nominee Bill Thompson is throwing his support behind Sen. Eric Schneiderman’s AG bid today, calling him “the one candidate in this field who will truly represent all New Yorkers in the fight for equal justice.”

“I’ve seen Eric in action and have no doubt that he will continue his lifelong fight for criminal justice reform, for economic fairness and for progressive change as New York’s next people’s lawyer,” Thompson said in a statement released by the Schneiderman campaign.

“Whether it’s taking on the insurance industry or ending the Rockefeller Drug laws, Eric has shown true leadership and demonstrated that he will be an Attorney General we can be proud of.”

The release plays up the fact that Thompson was the first African American to hold his former citywide post and grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, became the youngest Brooklyn deputy BP and later served as president of the (now defunct) Board of Education.

More >

HTC Mails For ‘Champion’ Schneiderman

The New York Hotel and Motel Trades Council, which endorsed Sen. Eric Schneiderman for AG back in July, has dropped its first mailer on his behalf, which paints him as a staunch labor ally who “stood up to Albany politicians” to help HTC members get a good deal in connection with the Aqueduct racino.

Other than the fact that Schneiderman IS himself an Albany politician, which makes that line ring a little oddly, this is a fairly standard piece of lit. It’s being sent to the homes of every HTC member and retiree – including family members.

In the end, roughly 80,000 New Yorkers will see it.

That’s a big deal. As I’ve written so many times before, the five-way Democratic AG primary is going to come down to a question of GOTV because turnout is expected to be low due to the lack of top-of-the-ballot competition to draw voters to the polls.

The exception might be in certain key congressional races – the 15th, where Rep. Charlie Rangel is fighting for his political life, for example; and the 14th, where Rep. Carolyn Maloney is facing off against newcomer Reshma Saujani.

The other head-to-heads slated for Sept. 14 are on the GOP side, which isn’t going to help any of the Dem AG contenders.

Since the Working Families Party is sitting out the AG primary, the individual unions are taking on a more significant role in the GOTV effort. HTC and SEIU/1199 (which has already mailed in this race) have large political operations, and both of them are on Schneiderman’s side, as is 32BJ.

More >

Coffey Under Fire For Stachowski Endorsement (Updatedx2)

The Buffalo News reports that Sean Coffey is jumping into the “turbulent waters of Erie County Democratic politics” today by throwing his support behind embattled Sen. Bill Stachowski, who faces a tough primary challenge from County Legislator Tim Kennedy.

This endorsement is a roundabout effort by Coffey to hit one of his Democratic AG primary opponents, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice.

His logic is a little circuitous, but basically is as follows: Kennedy is close to Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr.’s controversial counsel, Steve Pigeon, whom Coffey has been trying to tie to Rice since the Democratic convention in Rye.

But Coffey’s gambit is blowing up in his face a bit when it comes to the Western NY LGBT community. A blogger on Pink BFLO (“Our city, only gayer”) wrote that news of the candidate’s decision to support Stachowski “comes as quite a shock”, adding:

More >

Donovan Invokes Obama On Same-Sex Marriage

Staten Island DA Dan Donovan’s campaign hit back at the state Democratic Party and its LGBT allies following their slam on the Republican AG hopeful for his opposition to same-sex marriage and attempt to cast this as a deal-breaker for anyone seeking to be New York’s top attorney.

Donovan spokeswoman Virginia Lam said the campaign wasn’t surprised to see the party and “political bosses” (ESPA’s Ross Levi? RWDSU’s Stu Appelbaum?) trying to “distract voters from the cesspool of corruption in Albany.”

“However, we were surprised to find that President Obama was not included as a target of this political hit, as he and Dan share the same position of supporting civil unions while holding the personal belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman,” Lam continued.

“Dan Donovan is the only candidate for AG who actually puts politics aside in the interest of all New Yorkers and no amount of demagoguery will change this fact,” she continued.

“To be clear, if the state Legislature, who should be the real target of this attack, passes marriage equality, Dan will protect everyone’s right to marriage and also aggressively prosecute any individuals who impede or infringe upon those rights.”

The president’s ongoing support of civil unions over full marriage equality has caused consternation among his LGBT supporters – particularly in the wake of a federal judge’s ruling last week that overturned California’s Prop. 8.

LGBT Leaders Gang Up On Donovan On Gay Marriage

The state Democratic Party teamed up today with LGBT leaders and openly gay elected officials to slam Republican AG candidate Dan Donovan for his opposition to same-sex marriage, saying his position calls into question his ability to serve as the state’s top attorney.

“The issue is a critical one in the race for Attorney General,” the release states.

“Just last week, a federal judge reversed California’s same sex marriage ban thanks, in part, to a brief filed by the California Attorney General Jerry Brown. And attorneys general across the country have played a prominent role in promoting marriage equality, including in New York where Andrew Cuomo has defended the recognition of same-sex marriages performed out of state.

“For years, Donovan has avoided public comment on same-sex marriage, which is not mentioned anywhere on his campaign Website.”

The party’s press release features quotes, which all appear after the jump, from:

Empire State Pride Agenda Executive Director Ross Levi, HRC Campaign for New York Marriage strategist Brian Ellner, RWDSU President Stu Appelbaum, Stonewall Democratic Club President Joe Hagelmann, Assemblywoman Deborah Glick (Manhattan), Assemblyman Matt Titone (Staten Island), and Queens NYC Councilmen Daniel Dromm and Jimmy Van Bramer.

More >

Coffey’s Secret Weapon

As he ducks incoming attacks from his AG primary opponents on recent reports on his so-called “pay-to-play” campaign contributions in connection with pension fund business landed by his former law firm, Sean Coffey is releasing a Web ad featuring the woman who is arguably his strongest surrogate: His mother.

(Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice hit Coffey yesterday, and he responded by questioning her past membership in the Republican Party. Today, Sen. Eric Schneiderman is jumping on board, saying his public integrity proposal would have banned contributions of the sort made by Coffey and his ex-firm, Bernard Litowitz).

The ad features Mary Coffey speaking to the camera about her son’s history of fighting for people in need of defense – a tendency she says dates back to the days when he protected his brothers and sisters as the eldest in the family.

The script:

“Sean was the eldest child of immigrants. That means he not only looked out for his brothers and sisters, he felt he needed to give back. Sean has never really stopped.”

“I think to him, they’re all his brothers and sisters. The family Sean protected as a prosecutor. And those poor investors that lost all their money and looked to Sean for help. All those people in the state who think nobody’s listening. Sean is.”

“And if you’re doing the wrong thing up there in Albany, you’re going to be hearing from him.”

More >

Rice Hits Coffey Over ‘Pay-To-Play’

Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice’s campaign just slammed one of her AG primary opponents, Sean Coffey, in the wake of a WSJ report that he made more than $150,000 worth of state-level campaign contributions over the past decade – most of which were directed toward committees and candidates where his firm pursued contracts to represent pension funds in shareholder lawsuits.

“This is a game-changing revelation,” said Rice’s campaign manager Jeffrey Stein. “Mr. Coffey has spent the last eight months talking about the need for transparency and the need to end the pay-to-play culture that dominates Albany politics. ”

“At the same time, he knew he had given more than a hundred thousand dollars to candidates across the country and that the recipients of those donations then awarded him work that has made him a multimillionaire. He just went from the race’s unknown candidate to just another rich insider running for office.”

More >

Coffey’s Worth

Sean Coffey released his 2009 tax returns today, becoming the second of the AG contenders to do so.

(The first was Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, who released hers back during the height of tax season in April and then mounted a call for her opponents to follow suit).

The return, which he filed jointly with his wife, Anne, shows his adjusted gross income as $4.72 million – $1.72 million less more than the $3 million he has pumped into his first statewide campaign. Most of the couple’s earnings – $4.93 million – is listed as coming from “rental real estate, royalties, partnerships, corporations, trusts, etc.”

The Coffeys had filed for an extension until Oct. 15 because tax information for one of their investments won’t be available until after Labor Day. Nevertheless, they decided to file with the information they have now, and then amend the filing later.

The couple gave approximately 10 percent of their income to charity. Among their major contributions listed on Coffey’s campaign Website are: Brennan Center ($20,000), Media Matters for America ($25,000), and Securing America’s Energy Future ($25,000).

More >

Dems Use Prop. 8 to Pressure Wilson, Donovan

Democrats wasted no time in trying to use the overturning of California’s Prop. 8 against GOP statewide candidates here in New York.

The first hit came courtesy of state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs, who called on Staten Island DA Dan Donovan, the lone Republican AG candidate, to “finally publicly state whether or not he supports marriage equality, one of the defining civil rights issues of this generation.”

Jacobs noted that Donovan’s campaign Web site doesn’t mention same-sex marriage, nor has his position on the topic appeared in any published accounts.

The chairman accused the DA of running away from this controversial issue “like the plague” and noted that his political mentor is Guy Molinari, who is, in Jacobs’ words, “a notorious gay basher.”

“With the civil rights of New Yorkers hanging in the balance, Donovan needs to state publicly: Does he take his cues on intolerance from his mentor and political patron Guy Molinari, or does he stand with principled New Yorkers – and now, thankfully, a federal court – who view marriage equality as a fundamental right?” Jacobs said.

Donovan’s campaign spokeswoman confirmed that Donovan believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, but stressed that he “will ensure that the laws of our state are enforced.”

More >