Andrew Cuomo

Cuomo Plans Birthday Fundraiser

cuomobrithdayGov. Andrew Cuomo’s re-election campaign will hold a fundraiser timed with his birthday next month, with tickets running as high as $5,000 and bundled tickets reaching $25,000.

The Dec. 4 event billed as a “birthday celebration” will be held at the Essex House at Central Park South in New York City, according to an invitation sent out by the Cuomo campaign. Cuomo will turn 62 on Dec. 6.

Donors labeled young professionals can give $150, while individual tickets can run as high as $5,000 for a seat for two.

A table for 10 people, along with space at a host reception with the governor range from $10,000 to $25,000.

Previous birthday fundraisers for Cuomo have included celebrities like Billy Joel and Mary J. Blige as well as Jon Bon Jovi.

This isn’t the only fundraiser Cuomo is holding in December. On Dec. 17, Cuomo’s campaign will hold a gathering with celebrity chef, restaurant owner and cook book writer Lidia Bastianich.

Cuomo’s re-election campaign in July reported $8.3 million in cash on hand.

Vaping Products Ban Is In Legal Limbo, But New Age Restrictions To Take Effect Soon

New age restrictions on purchasing tobacco and electronic cigarette products are taking effect this month as New York’s effort to ban flavored tobacco used for vaping has been delayed amid a court challenge by the industry.

The minimum age for purchasing tobacco and electronic cigarette products will be raised from 18 to 21 beginning Nov. 13, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said on Monday as state lawmakers in New York City hold a hearing on the growing health concerns surrounding vaping.

“The goal of this law is simple – to prevent cigarettes and vaping products from getting into the hands of our youth, creating an addiction to a deadly habit,” Cuomo said. “We are taking aggressive action to make sure the decades of progress we’ve made to combat tobacco addiction is not undone by a sharp rise in e-cigarette use among younger New Yorkers.”

A vaping industry trade group, meanwhile, is pushing back against a ban on flavored e-cigarette tobacco, successfully winning a delay in the implementation of the policy, done through executive action by the governor.

Still, Health Commissioner Howard Zucker in an interview on Friday said the state was pursuing efforts to contend with the health concerns raised by vaping. At least one person has died and others have been sickened in the state, which is believed to be related to vaping induced illnesses.

“We’re trying to tackle this from all fronts on this issue,” Zucker said. “The department and the state overall is committed to getting to the bottom of the issues and to tackle this in any way we can, both from getting our message out to the public as well as to work with whatever avenues we can.”

Cuomo is expected to propose in January a package of measures designed to curtail vaping usage as well as respond to the intersection of e-cigarette use and the effort to legalize marijuana. Cuomo is working with neighboring states to craft policies on both issues.

Cuomo Hopes Campaign Finance Commission Considers Cost

What we know for certain, based on Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s public comments:

He supports publicly financed campaigns.

He supports fusion voting, which allows candidates for elected office to run on ballot lines in the same election.

And he’s concerned about the cost of multiple candidates receiving matching funds in a system of publicly financed campaigns.

Cuomo at a news conference and cabinet meeting on Friday called the system potentially “one heck of a bill.” He urged the commission that is laying down the specifics of public financing to be “cost conscious” in doing so.

“We have a big Medicaid hole and cost matters,” he said. “So, as they’re doing this plan, they should keep in mind the cost to the taxpayer.”

Does this mean potentially making it harder for some minor parties to maintain ballot access, part of a float by the governor’s appointee to the commission, state Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs?

“That’s what they (the commission) have to figure out,” Cuomo said.

And why not just create a system modeled after New York City’s public financing system?

“They are not bound to the New York City system and the rules of the New York City system,” Cuomo said. “They can come up with whatever rules they want.”

At the same time, the commission has publicly discussed the possibility of matching funds only qualifying for donations given within a legislative district — a provision that advocates worry would lead to lower participation.

The commission’s purview over election and campaign finance law could be broad, altering potentially how New York elects its candidates and how those candidates conduct campaigns.

The commission by the end of this month is expected to release its recommendations for how publicly financed campaigns, a process Cuomo has previously called “politics on steroids.” The process has also led to allegations by the liberal Working Families Party that Cuomo, out of revenge for the party initially endorsing Cynthia Nixon in 2018, is trying to suffocate the party through curtailing fusion voting.

It was revealed earlier this week that Jacobs floated the possibility of making it harder for some minor parties to qualify for the ballot by raising the threshold of votes to do so from 50,000 to 250,000.

Cuomo has dismissed the charge he wants the WFP destroyed as a fantasy.

But the cost of public financing — a concept polls have shown has not caught on with voters — has risen to the top of the issues for Cuomo, who has included the proposal in previous budgets. This year, lawmakers and Cuomo agreed to create a commission to sort out of the details.

The Legislature could return before the end of the year and vote down the recommendations, or they will become law.

“It is controversial and complex and it took time and hearings and the commission is supposed to work it out,” Cuomo said. “If they don’t work it out or if the Assembly or the Senate doesn’t like the conclusion of the commission, then vote. Come back and use your power and vote.”

Cuomo Says Trump Was Never A True New Yorker

President Donald Trump’s decision to shed his New York residency to become a Florida man is motivated, in part, by efforts to gain access to the president’s tax returns and potentially the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a Friday news conference.

Cuomo was largely speculating about Trump’s motives in filing paperwork to become a Florida resident.

Trump himself tweeted this morning that “I pay millions of dollars in city, state and local taxes each year, I have been treated very badly by the political leaders of both the city and state. Few have been treated worse.”

He added he “hated to make this decision. As President, I will always be there to help New York and the great people of New York. It will always have a special place in my heart!”

But Cuomo saw more at work: Namely, the effort to gain access to Trump’s New York tax returns, which is now part of a lawsuit, though it’s not clear if that would have any factor in the case.

“My hypothesis is Mr. Trump changed his residence for legal purposes,” Cuomo said. “He is in the middle of a lawsuit where a number of agencies are trying to get his taxes. He’s resisting releasing his taxes. He’s in litigation. I think his lawyers think this will help his legal case where he can now say New York does not have a legal right to my taxes, I’m no longer a resident of New York.”

The governor also pointed to one of his bete noirs, the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions, as another factor in Trump’s move to Florida.

“If there is a single factor that has affected taxes, you know what it is, it’s SALT, and it was passed by Donald Trump,” Cuomo said.

But at the same time, Cuomo defended his office’s tweet on Thursday evening that suggested Trump hasn’t paid taxes in the state, pointing to offsetting losses Trump has had, gleaned from what information has become public.

“You don’t want to lose wealthy individuals who pay taxes and there’s no indication he paid any taxes,” Cuomo said.

And, as for Trump himself, Cuomo said Trump isn’t a real New Yorker, pointing to his history of making incendiary remarks.

“I don’t believe he was a New Yorker, anyway,” he said. “Living in New York does not make you a New Yorker. To be a New Yorker is a state of mind. It’s a set of beliefs that you live by. New Yorkers do not discriminate.”

Cuomo and Trump have sparred over issues like the SALT cap and immigration. But the two at times have appeared to be willing to work together, with the governor traveling to the White House earlier in the Trump presidency to push for funding for the Gateway tunnel project. In the meeting, Trump called Cuomo “my governor.”

Cuomo on Friday sought to rebuff any notion that Trump left because of him.

“And by the way, if he believed it was my policies that were a problem, then the question would be why did he support me politically and donate to my campaign?” Cuomo said. “Yeah — think about it.”

Trump Leaves New York, Democrats Say ‘Good Riddance’

From the Morning Memo:

It didn’t take long on Thursday evening for Democratic critics of President Donald Trump in New York to celebrate the news he and First Lady Melania Trump had filed paperwork to declare themselves Florida residents.

“GOOD RIDDANCE!!” tweeted New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson.

The Twitter account of Gov. Andrew Cuomo — who Trump in a previous White House meeting referred to as “my governor” — was also in a buoyant mood over the news, and even cryptically suggested the president hadn’t been paying his taxes in New York.

“Good riddance,” the governor’s account tweeted. “It’s not like @realDonaldTrump paid taxes here anyway…”

It added, “He’s all yours, Florida.”

Trump was the first New York resident elected to the presidency since Franklin Roosevelt, ending a presidential dry spell for a large and otherwise politically influential state.

His decision to make Florida his official resident — he has properties in the state — likely won’t change much when it comes to the security around his building on 5th Avenue in New York City or, for that matter, he’s still very much of the New York tabloid and celebrity culture that has fueled his rise, personality and approach to the office.

But the move will undoubtedly call into question whether Trump moved because of the state’s high tax burden or, perhaps ironically, due to the $10,000 cap on state and local tax deductions that was part of the 2017 federal tax law he cheered.

There’s a partial irony, too, in Cuomo celebrating the departure of a wealthy New Yorker to another state. In blasting the deduction cap, Cuomo has decried how easy it is for rich people to pull up stakes and leave New York for lower-tax states like Florida.

After all, he notes, a sizable chunk of the main driver of state budget revenue, the personal income tax, comes from the very wealthy.

Trump statewide is deeply unpopular in heavily Democratic New York even as he draws support in upstate areas. But he also made for good fodder for Democratic lawmakers and elected officials.

Attorney General Letitia James has investigated Trump’s personal finances and his effort to buy the Buffalo Bills. Her office’s probes led to the winding down of the Trump Foundation charity after it was found money was used to promote the president.

In the Legislature, lawmakers have passed legislation that included a bill enabling Congress to gain access to Trump’s New York tax filings, a measure that so far has not been taken advantage of by congressional committee chairmen.

It’s being challenged in court.

Lawmakers also want to remove Trump’s name from the signs of a defunct state park seen from the Taconic Parkway.

Trump will still loom large, of course, given the nature of his office. And he could still play a role in key House races in New York next year. Some of his biggest supports remain New Yorkers in Congress, like Rep. Lee Zeldin, or are seeking a comeback, like former Rep. Claudia Tenney.

Trump may be a Florida man, but this probably is not him truly leaving New York.

Cuomo Backed Public Financing Of Campaigns In His Budgets, Raises Costs Concerns

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has included a plan that would create a system of publicly financed campaigns in his proposed spending plans.

But as a commission considers the rules of the road for how publicly financed campaigns would work in real life, the governor is raising concerns over the cost of the program.

Cuomo in an interview on Thursday with Long Island News Radio said he agreed with the concerns outlined by former Gov. David Paterson in an op/ed for The Daily News. Paterson, a former state Democratic Committee chairman appointed by the governor, is the public face of an effort to secure a license for the Las Vegas Sands to operate in New York City.

Cuomo said in the interview a public financing program would cost “hundreds of millions of dollars” given the minor party ballot lines in New York. Cuomo noted it is relatively easy to create a ballot line. One was created at his behest in 2014, the Women’s Equality Party.

Concerns over expenses could become a practical matter if the public campaign financing commission ends the practice of fusion voting, which allows candidates to run on multiple ballot lines. An end to fusion voting is an existential concern for the Working Families Party, which has been aligned with its ideological opposite, the Conservative Party, in questioning the legality of the commission’s work.

The governor’s appointee to the commission, state Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs, has floated the possibility of increasing the threshold for ballot access qualification for party’s in the gubernatorial race from 50,000 votes to 250,000.

More so than curtailing fusion voting, increasing the threshold would spell trouble the WFP, as well as parties like the Greens and Libertarians which have retained status into the current election cycle.

Throughout the discussion surrounding public campaign financing and the commission’s work during the summer and into the fall, Cuomo has struck a public posture as an independent observer. This week he called the debate “politics on steroids” and, at its root, a fight over money and power.

But the WFP sees more at work: The party last year initially declined to endorse Cuomo, backing instead Cynthia Nixon, his primary rival. The WFP eventually gave Cuomo its ballot line after he won the Democratic nomination.

Cuomo has dismissed any claims he’s seeking revenge on the party.

Cuomo Signs Measure Creating Uniform Poll Closing Plan

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a pair of bills on Wednesday meant to create more standardization for voters and consolidate election districts where there are less than 10 eligible voters.

The measures are part of a broader batch of election and campaign law related bills Cuomo has signed into law in recent weeks.

One bill signed today would create a uniform poll closing process on election night. The measure is meant to streamline and modernize how polls close in order to maintain the integrity of voting and ensure polls close in an orderly fashion.

The second bill approved will consolidate election districts where there are fewer than 10 people who are eligible to vote. The move is meant to grant more flexibility for boards of election to combine election districts and cut costs for taxpayers.

Both new laws take effect immediately.

“Voting is a fundamental pillar of our democracy, and this year we’ve enacted historic reforms to modernize New York’s voting laws and strengthen our election system,” Cuomo said. “These measures continue this monumental progress by bringing uniformity and commonsense to the voting process, helping to ensure every vote is counted and encourage more voters to exercise this fundamental right.”

Cuomo Calls Public Financing Debate ‘Politics On Steroids’

One thing to know about Gov. Andrew Cuomo is this: The man lives and breathes politics.

This isn’t a pejorative. Plumbers plumb. Carpenters hammer nails. Reporters love news. Politicians politic.

And Cuomo, soon to enter his 10th year in office, is unusually adept at navigating the politics of a complicated state. But when it comes to issues like the arcana of campaign finance, the very way New York’s smashmouth campaigns are funded and fueled, the stakes are high and for a relatively small group of individuals.

The public financing commission — a panel of officials appointed by the Legislature and the governor — is entering its endgame in the next month when it comes to laying down the specifics of how a public financing system will work.

Among the questions the commission will, in theory, resolve: How much will candidates receive in public funds for each dollar raised? What will the caps on campaign donations be? Will money raised outside of a district be eligible for public matching dollars? What is the future of minor parties that need a mechanism known as fusion voting, which allows candidates to run on multiple ballot lines, to stay alive?

Critics — the WFP, public financing supporters, the Conservative Party — are basing much of their arguments on the process, how the sausage is made. The commission isn’t subject to the Freedom of Information Law, they note. The commissioners didn’t take the oath of office as outlined in the public officers’ law — even though it almost certainly doesn’t apply to them.

Cuomo over the years has been viewed as a master of the process, the minutiae and the gutting-it-out grind of cranking out not necessarily policy, but a form of political will.

“This is all complicated politics and everyone has their own politics in New York,” Cuomo sad on Tuesday after an event at LaGuardia Airport. “That’s why the commission appointed to do it.”

It all very much indeed sounds insider-ish. There’s an irony here. Supporters of public financing have long maintained it is meant to level the playing field in electoral politics in New York, enable more “normal” people to run for office, who would be otherwise barred by the need to have a lot of money or know a lot of rich people in order to run for public office.

But the process by which that more utilitarian system is taking place is being done, critics allege, in a less than small “d” democratic way.

Advocates for public financing have raised alarms with what’s being discussed at the meetings, including restrictions on donations from outside a legislative district. They’re worried the rules of the road for public financing will be so esoteric, no one will want to participate.

And then there’s the Working Families Party, the progressive organization that backed Cuomo’s 2018 Democratic primary rival, Cynthia Nixon. The WFP views the commission’s outcome as a potential threat to its future. The questions have, in another irony, temporarily put the WFP on the same side as the Conservative Party in opposing the panel.

Both groups have filed separate lawsuits.

Cuomo, meanwhile, has been able to largely appear above the fray, even though there have been quiet discussions, as reported by Politico, that he’s gunning for the WFP. The administration denies it.

On Tuesday, Cuomo cast himself as merely an observer of the process that’s unfolding.

“This is politics on steroids and everyone has their own politics and their own advantages and they’re trying to maximize their political advantage and disadvantage their opponent,” Cuomo said.

A lot of what happens in Albany is about process — a mastering of the rules in place, or at least finding the ones that are easiest to follow. And Cuomo has had a variety of enemies mount challenges to him in a variety of ways. For now, they’ve been unsuccessful.

Cuomo Approves Bills For Poll Watching, Staffing On Election Days

Legislation signed into law by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday clarifies the process governing poll watchers on Election and another bill that is meant to ensure polling sites are properly staffed based on the location’s needs.

“Transparent elections are crucial to ensuring voters have their voices heard,” Cuomo said. “By signing these measures into law, we modernize our elections, bringing efficiency and common sense to a process that has been unnecessarily ambiguous for far too long.”

The poll watching legislation clarifies the process for how watchers are appointed for general, primary, special, village or town elections. The measure allows candidates running on the ballot as well as political committees three poll watchers for each election district and only one within a guardrail at any time.

The new law is meant to provide clearer authority for who appoints poll watchers on Election Day.

A second measure allows an elections board to design an alternative staffing plan for a polling site based on the location’s needs and issue. Currently staffing plans are based on a time when the voting machines were pull-lever.

“Voters need to be able to trust that every vote will be counted and their democracy functions with integrity,” said Sen. Zellnor Myrie. “Poll watchers play an integral role in our democracy, and we must empower them to do their job. In a state as large and diverse as New York, there is no reason to use a one size fits all approach to running our poll sites. I am proud to support our Boards of Elections and ensure that the experience of all New Yorkers participating in our democracy is convenient, efficient, and secure.”

Cuomo Fetes New Delta Concourse At LaGuardia

There is perhaps nothing Gov. Andrew Cuomo loves more than the tangible result of a policy outcome — especially when it comes to big-picture items like infrastructure.

And on Tuesday Cuomo was in Queens for the opening of the first new concourse and gates at the new Terminal C for Delta Air Lines at LaGuardia.

The terminal is a piece of the $8 billion plan to overhaul what has been a sad-sack airport for domestic-bound flights, a facility akin to flying out of Penn Station, another dreary and schlubby travel hub Cuomo is pushing to overhaul through an infusion of money and attention.

“The opening of the first new concourse at Terminal C is a major milestone that takes us one step closer to transforming LaGuardia Airport into a global gateway worthy of this state,” Cuomo said in a statement.

“We’re building the nation’s first completely new airport in 25 years and showing the nation and the world that you can be ambitious and get big things done. At the end of the day, the new LaGuardia Airport will provide a world-class passenger experience with state-of-the art terminals and concourses like the one we’re in today, new roadways and improved traffic flow, and 50 percent more tarmac space to reduce gate delays.”

The new concourse spreads out over 105,000 square feet and has floor-to-ceiling views of quintessentially Queens sights: Flushing Bay and Citi Field.

Airport construction does a few things, in addition to providing tangibility. It creates construction and engineering jobs. It spruces up the gateway for travelers — many of whom are business types — for a city’s entrance. Cuomo is making smaller-scale, but no less significant commitments for regional airports in upstate regions, including Rochester and Albany.

Seven new gates will be in the new Delta concourse on the eastern side of the airport. It will begin serving passengers with 60 flights per day to Boston, Washington and Chicago starting next Monday.