Zeldin Fundraises Off NY’s ‘Socialist Wave’

Long Island Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin, a close ally of President Trump, is seeking to capitalize on the rise of New York’s liberal star, Democratic Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the role she played in the death of the Amazon HQ2 project.

Zeldin sent out an email fundraising blast last night with the subject line: “The Socialist Wave.” In it, he decried Ocasio-Cortez for blocking “25,000 good-paying jobs from coming to Long Island City,” and also said she’s “trying to force the entire country onto her terrible “Green New Deal” that could cost taxpayers $93 TRILLION.”

The congressman then went on to name check another infamous Democratic socialist, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders, who recently launched his second bid at the White House, raising a significant amount of campaign cash in a very short period of time.

“If this isn’t scary enough,” Zeldin wrote of Ocasio-Cortez’s efforts, “Bernie Sanders’ socialist base is fired up. He raised nearly $6 MILLION in less than 24 hours one day last week. It’s URGENT that we get your help to fight back!”

“…Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are determined to takeover control of the entire federal government in 2020. Their efforts could empty the wallets of American taxpayers, and their open border policies would abolish vital agencies like ICE and leave our borders open to criminals,” the congressman continued.”

“This isn’t about politics; this is about a threat to our core American values. We can NEVER let America become a socialist country.”

Zeldin last November defeated Democratic newcomer Perry Gershon, who, like many first-time candidates, said he was motivated to run out of a disillusionment with the broken and polarized political system. This is Zeldin’s third term in Congress, and his first as a member of the minority.

During his victory speech and election night, Zeldin spoke of the importance of “uniting” the country, and said he believed he had an “important role to play” in that effort.

This email, however, demonstrates that sentiment was fairly short lived. There’s a fairly robust conservative moment on Long Island that Zeldin is clearly playing here.

The death of the Amazon deal has been a significant issue on Long Island, with Gov. Andrew Cuomo taking the suburban Democratic state Senate members there to task for failing to prevent their conference from opposing, and in his eyes, eventually helping to scuttle, the project.

Zeldin isn’t the first GOP lawmaker to seek to make political hay from the demise of the Amazon project. The Senate GOP recently purchased Facebook ads highlighting the role their Democratic colleagues played in killing the deal.

Molinaro Raises Off Nixon Announcement

From the Morning Memo:

To say New York Republicans are happy about education activist and actress Cynthia Nixon’s decision to challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a Democratic primary is something of an understatement.

Out-gunned when it comes to fundraising and out-numbered in enrollment by about five to three across the state, Republicans know they face an uphill battle in their quest to oust Cuomo in November, and they’re more than willing to accept any and all assistance in softening up their target ahead of the general election.

Deputy Senate Majority Leader John DeFranciso, so far the only formally announced candidate seeking the GOP nod against Cuomo, deemed Nixon’s run “great,” adding:

“(I)t shows what I have been saying all along, that whether you are from the left or the right or the middle, people are tired of Governor Cuomo. It’s not just all sides of the political spectrum, but the manner of doing business that he has.”

And state GOP Chairman Ed Cox, who has endured quite a bit of verbal sniping over the years from Cuomo and his fellow Democrats over the fact that he is the son-in-law of the late former President Richard Nixon, turned the tables and had a little fun welcoming Cynthia Nixon to the fray.

Duchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, who initially said back in January that he would not run statewide this year, but has since been drafted into the race by GOP leaders and is expected to announce his campaign in early April, took things a step further a sought to turn Nixon’s candidacy to his advantage.

In a fundraising email with the subject line “New York is Going Hollywood!”, Molinaro said Nixon’s entry into the race for governor is “great news for our campaign,” because Cuomo “will be forced to take on a high profile challenge from a celebrity-activist who is guaranteed the spotlight from the state and national media.”

“Nixon’s challenge will finally force the national media to report on the culture of corruption and sheer incompetence which pervades the Cuomo administration,” Molinaro continued.

“Whether it is Cuomo pay to play, bribery, billion dollar upstate boondoggles or the failure to run the trains on time – the jig is up for the Governor. A race that we knew would be competitive, is now a race that we can and will win.”

Molinaro concluded his appeal with a final “P.S.,” which read:

“The winner of the Cuomo-Nixon race is going to have to survive a bruising primary and that’s good news. The bad news for New Yorkers is that Andrew Cuomo, who was already running to the left to position himself for a 2020 run for President, will undoubtedly now break into a sprint. We can’t allow the battle for the soul of New York’s elite, leave the rest of us in the middle even further behind. Please donate today!”

As of the last campaign financial filing with the state Board of Elections in January, Cuomo was sitting on just over $30 million worth of political cash.

Fellow Assembly Dems Help Brindisi Raise Congressional Cash

They may be sorry to see him go, assuming he’s able to defeat incumbent Republican Rep. Claudia Tenney next year, but Assemblyman Anthony Brindisi’s Democratic colleagues are lining up to help raise cash for what’s expected to be an expensive and divisive race.

Assemblyman John McDonald, a Cohoes Democrat, forwarded his supporters an invitation to a Sept. 26 event being hosted for Brindisi by a number of upstaters – including Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan, who is fresh off a Democratic primary victory that all but assures her a second four-year term in November.

“I rarely send this type of email, however I am doing so today because of the respect I have for my colleague Anthony Brindisi who is running for Congress in an area adjacent to ours,” McDonald wrote.

“He is smart, young and hard working. He is a true advocate for both education and the hard-working middle class. Please consider supporting Anthony. He will be a great asset to the New York delegation in Washington.”

The event, which will take place at the Albany Center Gallery on Broadway, costs between $35 (for young professionals) to $2,700 (the maximum contribution) to attend. Members of the host committee, which is still in formation, include a number of other Assembly Democrats from both upstate and NYC.

The invitation describes Brindisi as a “top pick-up opportunity for the Democrats in NY-22.”

Though the race only recently got underway, it’s already taken a negative turn, which Brindisi and Tenney, who also used to be a member of the Assembly, trading barbs on everything from Brindisi’s father’s legal representation of mobsters to a town hall the congressman is scheduled to hold this coming Tuesday.

Tenney is already seeking to use Brindisi’s ties to fellow Democrats – including Gov. Andrew Cuomo – against him, calling him a “slick politician” who “pretends to be a moderate.”

Though Brindisi has insisted that he will shy away form “name calling,” his allies and outside interests seeking to assist him in ousting Tenney, will no doubt spend considerable time – and cash – playing up her steadfast support for President Donald Trump.

They will surely seek to paint her as too right wing for a district that was previously represented by a moderate Republican, Richard Hanna, who refused to endorse Tenney in the 2016 election cycle after she tried unsuccessfully to beat him in the 2014 GOP primary.

De Blasio Fundraising Email Criticizes Malliotakis For Trump Meeting

deblasioA fundraising email from the campaign of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday criticized his likely Republican opponent Nicole Malliotakis for meeting with Donald Trump in 2013.

The meeting between Trump and New York Republicans over a potential run for governor by Trump in 2014 against Democratic incumbent Andrew Cuomo.

Ultimately, Trump demurred and set his sights on running for president in 2016.

“With Donald Trump as president, it’s no surprise Nicole Malliotakis has emerged as the Republican candidate to take on Mayor de Blasio — after all, it was only four years ago she talked to Trump about running for Governor of New York,” the email states.

“Powerful interests have already spent millions trying to beat Mayor de Blasio. Now that the president has his candidate to take us on, the worst is likely yet to come. But with your help, we’ll be ready for anything they throw our way.”

The email includes a screen shot of a tweeted photo by Malliotakis with Trump and Councilman Joe Borelli describing a “productive meeting.”

It’s not surprising the de Blasio campaign would seek to tie Malliotakis to Trump given his unpopularity in New York City.

But it’s also starting relatively early given the surprise announcement by Paul Massey he would not continue on with his bid for the Republican nomination, leaving the Staten Island assemblywoman the likely nominee.

Lawmakers Rake In Albany Cash

State lawmakers raked in campaign cash from Albany-based fundraisers this year, with more to come, according to a compilation of the events by the New York Public Interest Research Group.

The steady stream of fundraisers just steps from the Capitol isn’t wholly surprising, given that it’s an election year for all 213 seats in the Legislature.

At the same time, a number of new venues in downtown Albany near the Capitol have opened or been renovated, including the newly opened Renaissance Hotel.

Still, the amount of money raised is eyebrow-raising for good-government advocates, who have been pushing for a host of ethics reforms in the wake of the corruption scandals, arrests and convictions, with still more investigations ongoing.

2016 fundraisers.pdf by Nick Reisman

Amid Investigations, Senators Differ On Campaign Finance Reform

Back in Albany, Senate Democrats today made a renewed push for the closure of a loophole that allows single donors to give unlimited funds through a web of limited liability companies.

It’s a longtime bugaboo for good-government advocates and Democratic lawmakers in Albany and one Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pledged to close even as he has taken advantage of the current arrangement in his own fundraising.

But the push also comes amid swirling scandals on both the state and federal level for both the Cuomo administration and the fundraising activities of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on behalf of Senate Democrats.

De Blasio’s political activities are being scrutinized by federal investigations over the method of helping Senate Democrats take over the chamber in 2014 – namely through a series of massive donations to county party committees, which then disbursed funds on behalf of individual candidates.

Senate Republicans, especially GOP freshman Sen. Terrence Murphy whose own race two years ago was a target of de Blasio’s allies, have blasted de Blasio and the Senate Democrats over the investigation.

And as Democrats sought to once again gain a vote on the LLC loophole bill in the Senate Elections Committee, Murphy sought to address county party transfer by boosting penalties for explicitly aiding candidates through local committees.

“This legislation strengthens the penalties for the BDB Loophole, which is already an illegal act under New York State’s election law,” Murphy said in a statement.

“New Yorkers from all parts of our State are demanding action be taken in light of the allegations tying Mayor de Blasio and the Senate Democrats together through illegally prearranged transfers from county committees to handpicked candidates. This bill will give authorities more teeth to hold law breakers accountable for their actions.”

Democrats, meanwhile, shrugged off the Republican complaints as a diversion from the overarching issue of LLC giving.

“What’s ironic is that for multiple years now the Senate majority has refused to address this issue,” said Sen. Daniel Squadron, one of the main Democratic sponsors of the LLC loophole bill.

“Everything else you’re hearing here is a diversion. Let me be clear, we need to look at our campaign finance laws. But this has risen to a new level in terms of its use and it’s specific linkage to those trials which means we have to deal with this now. This is a simple fix.”

Donations through LLCs have increased over the years, and Democrats were quick to point out their legislation would not bar the entities from political giving. The practice often makes the source of the contributions difficult to track and has enriched campaigns in an era of free spending in politics ushered in by the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.

Still, Republicans have questioned the motivations behind closing the loophole – the result of a decades-old Board of Elections decision – as a way of aiding labor union giving.

Again, Squadron insisted the LLC loophole is a piece of a larger puzzle for reform, and a crucial one.

“Look, there are a lot of other issues around LLCs and a lot of other issues around campaign finance reform, both of which should be looked at,” he said. “In the case of campaign finance reform, my colleagues and I carry a lot of those bills. But the fact that there are other problems must not be an excuse to allow a glaring issue that has been particularly pernicious and particularly linked to corruption.”

Last Minute Contributions To SD-52

sd52Last-minute donations are being made in the special election to fill a vacant 52nd Senate district to both Republican Fred Akshar and Democratic candidate Barbara Fiala, 24-hour notices filed with the state Board of Elections show.

Contributions to Akshar include:

  • $11,000 from RPAC of New York,
  • $5,000 from the New York State Beer Wholesalers Association
  • $11,000 from the Uniformed Firefighters Association FirePAC
  • $5,000 from AFSCME
  • $8,500 from the Business Council’s political action committee.

Fiala, meanwhile, has received donations in recent days from:

  • $10,000 from the Mason Tenders District Council
  • $5,000 from the teamster’s DRIVE Committee
  • $5,000 from CWA District One
  • $16,209 from the Broome County Democratic Committee.

The donations come as a Time Warner Cable News/Siena College found Akshar leading Fiala among likely voters with a 52-percentage point lead. Akshar, a Broome County undersheriff, has had a vast fundraising advantage compared to Fiala.

Akshar’s campaign has been bolstered by the Senate Republican Campaign Committee, with Republicans in Albany sending hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign.

The Binghamton-area Senate seat, which has a GOP voter enrollment edge, was represented by GOP lawmaker Tom Libous until his conviction on a charge of lying to the FBI in July.

One LLC Fuels Reform Party

astorinoFrom the Morning Memo:

The Reform Party, a ballot line formed last year by Republican gubernatorial nominee Rob Astorino, filed its first campaign finance report since it was rechristened this election season, showing a single, massive donation from a limited liability company.

The party’s sole contributor was listed as the Institute for Municipal Safety Research, LLC and donated $107,900 to the line.

The party has been helping a town supervisor candidate in Clarkstown, a Republican running on the Reform Party ballot line, in the form of a TV ad.

The filing reported the party spent $50,582 on the ad shoring up candidate George Hoehmann.

Not much information exists online regarding the LLC and its address is listed as being in a downtown office suite in White Plains.

The Reform Party was initially constituted as the Stop Common Core Party last year — one of two issue-oriented ballot lines formed last year as a way to draw attention to the candidates’ policy issues that could sway voters.

Astorino and his running mate, Chemung County Sheriff Chris Moss, received the needed 50,000 votes on the line to give the party ballot status in the current election cycle.

The party was renamed the “Reform Party” as a way to broaden its appeal to voters on issues such as term limits and stopping corruption, Astorino has said.

Astorino, the Westchester County executive, is considering another run for governor in 2018.

Faso’s Congressional Campaign Takes Shape

FasofundraisserThe congressional campaign of Republican John Faso is taking shape this month as the former Assembly minority leader plans a Sept. 30 fundraiser at the Fort Orange Club in Albany.

Tickets for the event range from $250 to $1,000 for the dinner and reception.

Faso, the 2002 Republican candidate for comptroller and 2006 nominee for governor, is vying for the congressional seat held by retiring Rep. Chris Gibson, who is weighing a run for statewide office in 2018.

An invitation obtained by Capital Tonight shows Faso has lined up prominent Republican donors in upstate New York, including businessman John Nigro, communications and publicity expert Mark Behan, developer Emil Galasso and former Court of Appeals Judge Victoria Graffeo, an appointee of then-Gov. George Pataki. A long list of those attending the event is after the jump.  More >

Suffolk’s Bellone Fundraises For Re-Election Bid

Democratic Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone on Thursday sent out a fundraising appeal ahead of his 2015 re-election campaign.

Bellone, in his fundraising appeal, touts the county’s expansion of clean water infrastructure as well as three balanced budgets under his tenure.

“Together, we have accomplished so much in these last three years. We introduced three consecutive balanced budgets while freezing the general fund property tax and holding all county taxes under the tax cap,” Bellone said. “We reduced the size of government by more than 10 percent, consolidating departments and saving taxpayers more than $100 million each year without impacting services.”

Bellone was first elected in 2011, flipping a seat from a Democrat-turned-Republican hostile to Gov. Andrew Cuomo (Steve Levy unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination for governor in 2010).

Since then, Bellone has been a key local government ally for the governor, who also has worked well with Republican Nassau County Executive Ed Mangano.