Democrats

Lawmakers Urge Approval Of Camp Safety Bill

State lawmakers on Thursday urged Gov. Andrew Cuomo to approve a bill that would require parents be notified if a camp is not regulated by the state Department of Health.

The bill’s sponsors, Sen. David Carlucci and Assemblyman Tom Abinanti, said the measure was a matter of safety for kids attending camp.

“Non-regulated camps could have sex offenders on staff preying on our children,” Carlucci said. “Every parent should be notified if their child’s camp is not inspected and not following strict State guidelines. We need the Governor to take immediate action and sign this bill into law to keep our children safe.”

Camps that are regulated have to follow state guidelines, including inspections and a permit of operation from the state Department of Health. Lawmakers said Thursday are as many as 10,000 single-purpose day camps in the state that are not regulated and could pose a safety risk to kids.

“Parents need to be fully informed when state regulations are not in place so they can make informed decisions about where to send their children for camp activities,” Abinanti said.

The notification would be required to be included on a child’s application or enrollment form.

D-Trip Ties GOP To Obamacare Challenge

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on Thursday sought to lash Republican members of Congress in New York to a lawsuit challenging the Affordable Care Act’s legality.

A federal appeals court panel this week is considering the future of the law, also known as Obamacare, and whether it can stand without the requirement that Americans who do not have health insurance pay a penalty, a provision that was repealed by the Republican-led Congress.

At issue, however, are the facets of the law that are popular with voters, such as requiring patients with pre-existing conditions be covered.

New York lawmakers this year codified aspects of the ACA into state law, including the health care marketplace exchange.

But Democrats on the national level sought to press the political advantage, sending out statements knocking Reps. Peter King, Lee Zeldin and Chris Collins.

“If King’s partisan lawsuit is successful, families across New York and the country will lose their insurance and be forced to pay more for the prescriptions and health care they need,” said DCCC spokesperson Christine Bennett. “23,000 people are at risk of immediately losing their health care thanks to Congressman King. Clearly his priorities are out of whack that he would put Washington partisanship ahead of the lives of the people he was elected to represent.”

Langworthy Says Tax Access Law Meant To Settle Scores Against Trump

The approval of a bill on Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo that could lead to congressional Democrats access President Donald Trump’s state tax returns is an effort to embarrass the president, New York Republican Chairman Nick Langworthy said.

The measure, which lawmakers gave final passage to in May, was broadened to include a range of officeholders. But for many lawmakers, the stated intent was to assist Democratic members of Congress in their review of the president’s finances.

“Make no mistake this is aimed directly at the president of the United States,” Langworthy said during a stop at the Capitol. “There was no clamoring to get other peoples’ records. It’s an attempt to settle political scores.”

For now, congressional Democrats have not embraced the provision, preferring instead to continue to push for Trump’s federal tax returns, which they believe can provide more detailed information.

Cuomo, too, was initially hesitant to back the measure, pushing for it be broader. Langworthy on Monday, however, blamed the governor.

“If the governor wants to take on the president, maybe he ought to get into the race,” he said. “But he doesn’t have the courage.”

Cuomo Signs Bill Allowing Congress To Access Trump’s State Tax Returns

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday signed a bill that would allow congressional investigators to access the New York state tax returns of President Donald Trump.

“Tax secrecy is paramount – the exception being for bonafide investigative and law enforcement purposes,” Cuomo said. “By amending the law enforcement exception in New York State tax code to include Congressional tax-related committees, this bill gives Congress the ability to fulfill its Constitutional responsibilities, strengthen our democratic system and ensure that no one is above the law.”

The measure, approved by the Legislature in May, is meant to counteract efforts by the Trump administration on the federal level to force the release of his federal returns.

The measure allows the chairs of the House Ways & Means Committee, the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, or the Joint Committee on Taxation to request in writing New York tax returns. So far, congressional Democrats have not embraced the New York bill, insisting they would rather see his federal filings.

Trump has broken with decades of tradition by not releasing his tax returns as a candidate, but no law requires a presidential candidate to do so.

“Our republic has endured for over 200 years thanks to the system of checks and balances provided in our Constitution,” said Assemblyman David Buchwald. “Consistent with this tradition, New York State now stands ready to assist Congress as it challenges the Trump Administration’s refusal to provide his tax records. The legislation we passed in New York will provide Congress with a direct path to what the President clearly wants to hide from the American people. No one is above the law.”

Sen. Brad Hoylman, the Democratic sponsor in the state Senate, said the measure is bigger than just the president.

“Moving forward, this new law helps Congress perform one of its most important responsibilities: oversight of the Office of the President,” he said.

WFP Mobilizes — And Fundraises — Ahead Of Queens DA Recount

From the Morning Memo:

The Democratic nomination for Queens district attorney, now heading to a court challenge and hand recount, has become a fundraising opportunity for the Working Families Party.

The progressive-allied party used the news last week of the recount in the race between Melina Katz and Tiffany Cabán to seek small-dollar contributions of $3, which it says will be used to further Cabán’s effort during the legal maneuvering surrounding the recount.

“In a recount like this, the establishment has the full force of the machine on their side, including many of the judges and commissioners who are supposed to be fair arbiters of the law. Tiffany has YOU,” the WFP wrote in an email.

“Contribute now to help WFP and Tiffany Cabán make sure every vote is counted.”

The recount was triggered after more than 2,000 affidavit ballots were called into question and Katz gained an extremely slim lead over Cabán, triggering the hand recount.

As of last Friday, Katz led Cabán by 16 votes and the campaigns are gearing up to argue over 100 provisional ballots in court.

Cabán was seen as the latest victory for progressive activists, whose candidates have upended local-level races across the state over the last year.

Trump Lobs Tweet At Cuomo, James

President Donald Trump on Monday criticized both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York Attorney General Letitia James in a series of tweets, charging the governor uses James “as a bludgeoning tool for his own purposes.”

The tweets come as Trump’s business activities have been investigated by James’s office, including his effort to purchase the Buffalo Bills football and the financing effort behind that.

“New York businesses in search of anything at all they can find to make me look as bad as possible,” Trump wrote. “So, on top of ridiculously high taxes, my children and companies are spending a fortune on lawyers. No wonder people and businesses are fleeing New York in record numbers!”

Cuomo in a phone conference call with reporters discussing his trip to Israel said he hadn’t seen Trump’s Twitter comments.

“He says the most absurd things. The state has ridiculously high taxes. The President’s strength is not fact or truth as we know,” Cumo said.

Cuomo added appeared unfamiliar with New York electing the governor and attorney general separately.

“I don’t have an Attorney General. He appoints an Attorney General and I think if anything the fact that law enforcement is looking into his corporations, if he has nothing to hide he has nothing to worry about. But I think the tweet shows that his paranoia is once again getting the better of him,” Cuomo said.

James in a tweet fired back as well, saying the investigation will go where the facts are.

“Make no mistake: No one is above the law, not even the President,” she posted. “P.S. My name is Letitia James. (You can call me Tish.)”

Gillibrand’s Debate Pivot Overshadowed

From the Morning Memo:

U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand appeared to enter the Democratic presidential debate with a clear strategy: Stand out on a crowded stage.

Gillibrand was assertive, muscling her way into the conversation when she wasn’t asked a question. She sought to make a point about straddling a middle ground between Sen. Bernie Sanders’s democratic socialism and former Vice President Joe Biden’s effort to sustain and expand Obamacare.

After night one of the debates featured men mostly interrupting women, Gillibrand wasn’t timid about interrupting the men on the stage.

But as Gillibrand sought to make some wonkish points about her record in the Senate, her efforts were overshadowed by the big moment of the night: California Sen. Kamala Harris blasting Biden over his school busing stance in the 1970s.

The moment is being seen as a potential tipping point for Biden, given his strong support from black voters, and for Harris as well, as she has been considered a slow, but steady campaigner.

Gillibrand’s campaign has struggled in fundraising and in the polls. As the criteria rises for entree into the next debate, the impression she made on voters on Thursday night may have been all the more important.

James Vows To Take Trump To Court Over Census

From the Morning Memo:

New York Attorney General Letitia James in a tweet on Thursday said she would see the Trump administration in court if there is a move to delay the U.S. Census after a Supreme Court ruling struck down a citizenship question.

“We won’t back down,” she wrote. “See you in court.”

The decision upheld a lower court’s ruling about the question, but justices were split on other aspects of the case. New York, immigration groups and other states sued to block the question from being included on the form, given the potential for undocumented immigrants to not answer and create an under count in the process.

President Donald Trump, in Japan this week for the G20 summit, said he asked administration lawyers to potentially delay the once-a-decade head count as the case continues to be resolved.

The U.S. Constitution requires a census of the country be conducted every 10 years.

De Blasio, At Debate, Takes A Minimum Wage Victory Lap

From the Morning Memo:

There’s a rich irony, somewhere, that New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio was touting a $15 minimum wage that his some-time rival Gov. Andrew Cuomo had backed 200 miles to the north in Albany.

De Blasio repeatedly at last night’s debate returned to New York City’s $15 minimum wage. He could have been referring to the 2016 order he gave that set the minimum wage for city workers at $15. But he also spoke about the wage in broad terms.

As de Blasio can attest, the city remains a creature of the state, and it was up to state lawmakers and Cuomo to increase the minimum. The $15 minimum for large employers took effect at the end of last year (for small business of 10 or less employees, the wage hits $15 at the end of this year).

Beyond the minimum wage claim, de Blasio also falsely asserted he enacted “universal health care” in New York City — a claim that vastly overstated the scope of an existing program.

Still, de Blasio’s debate performance, honed perhaps by two terms of wrestling with New York City’s cantankerous press corps, was seen as sharp — interrupting his fellow presidential candidates several times, including an early-evening swipe at former Rep. Beto O’Rourke over health care.

The mayor and Sen. Elizabeth Warren were also the only candidates on the stage to raise their hands when asked if they would abolish private insurance when switching the nation over to a single-payer health care system.

And de Blasio returned to what had been a solid formula for him when he first ran for mayor in 2013 by touting his family, especially his son Dante, when discussing the need to speak to him about his interactions with the police as a person of color.

Tonight, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is the familiar face from New York who will take the debate stage in round two.

What’s Next For NY’s Left?

From the Morning Memo:

Tiffany Cabán’s apparent victory in the Democratic nomination contest for Queens district attorney was perhaps entirely predictable given the gaining strength of the progressive moment in New York.

Taken over the last year — victories by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the unseating of members of the Independent Democratic Conference in the fall and now Cabán’s win — is part of a broader trend for New York progressives: There’s a gradual shift in the state’s politics.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a news conference on Wednesday diagnosed the issue as one of turnout, which is especially low in primaries that for the first time on the local level are taking place in June.

But he also acknowledged there is a new force on the left.

“There is no doubt a political force — a dynamic change,” Cuomo said. “Change for the sake of change. I’m unhappy, so I want change. The question is who votes? Who votes, right? I won election last year with the greatest number of votes in the primary in history, with the greatest number of votes in history. I was not change on a simplistic level, I was running for re-election.”

There is, of course, still the matter of scale of running statewide and Cuomo remains able to hold a coalition of upstate and suburban Democrats and black voters.

The gradualism is easy to spot: local districts fall to progressives, then a borough-wide office. What’s next for the left? It’s easy to imagine the left mounting a credible candidate for New York City mayor in 2021 — someone who like Cabán six months ago is still an unknown.

Being associated with the establishment at this point can be seen more as a liability. If you want to be mayor of New York after Bill de Blasio is gone, your calculus is changing day to day.