Gillibrand, Rice Stick With Global

At least two Democrats seeking statewide office this fall will not be heeding calls to dump Global Strategy Group in spite of the firm’s involvement in the pay-to-play state pension fund scandal.

The campaign of one of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Republican opponents, David Malpass, said the junior senator should dump the consulting firm “immediately,” calling this choice a “real test of (her) priorities.”

Malpass was interviewed this afternoon by YNN’s Steve Ference for this evening’s “Capital Tonight,” and said:

“She has to make a decision on who she hires, who she associates with in the campaign. I want to run a very issue based campaign. My frustration is that we have an inside ballgame kind of mentality going on in Washington, D.C. and in Albany that keeps making mistakes. It’s not working on behalf of taxpayers and that is what I want to change.”

You can tune in at 8 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. to see the entire Malpass interview.

Gillibrand’s campaign declined to comment, but said it would be sticking with Global, which has been with her since the beginning of her political career when she ousted then-GOP Rep. John Sweeney in 2006.

Meanwhile, the campaign of Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, one of five Democratic AG contenders, confirmed that it recently hired Global’s Jef Pollock and intends to keep him.

“Jefrey Pollock is a new, trusted member of our campaign team and we look forward to his consultation in the year ahead,” said Rice campaign spokesman Eric Phillips. “We hired Jef to provide the campaign with polling and statistical research.”

Patersons’ Income Up, Charitable Contributions Down (Updated)

Gov. David Paterson and his wife, Michelle Paige Paterson, brought home $328,284 (gross) in 2008 – an increase of slightly over $50,000 thanks to a salary bump received by the first lady, NY1’s Erin Billups reports.

The Patersons did not increase their charitable contributions are their own financial picture improved. In fact, they gave considerably less.

The couple donated just $4,650, down from $11,833 in 2008. UPDATE: Jimmy Vielkind notes $1,500 of the $4,650 went to anti-domestic violence causes, which is ironic, considering the David Johnson mess.

The Patersons beefed up their giving during the first year of the governor’s tenure after he was lambasted in April 2007 (about one month after ascending to replace Eliot Spitzer) for giving just $150 worth of old clothes to the Salvation Army and no cash contributions to charity.

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DiNapoli: I’m Not Involved In Pension Mess

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli just released a statement in response to AG Andrew Cuomo’s revelation earlier today that his pay-to-play pension probe includes events that occurred after DiNapoli took office in February 2007.

DiNapoli made a point to say he is “outraged by the criminal acts that occurred during the Hevesi administration.” (I added the bold for emphasis). “Anyone who has violated the law and the public trust must be held accountable.”

“As the Attorney General’s investigation has revealed, I inherited a mess. But it is a mess that I have fixed,” DiNapoli continued. “I have thoroughly and methodically evaluated and reformed the operations and investment policies of the Pension Fund.”

“While some public officials have touted proposals of varying merit, I have ended the potential for the shameful corruption that had plagued the Pension Fund. I have banned placement agents and lobbyists and ended ‘pay to play’ in the pension system. I continue to urge the SEC to implement a national ban on ‘pay to play.'”

“I have managed the Office of the State Comptroller and the New York State Common Retirement Fund with transparency and integrity from the start of my tenure. Any suggestion or innuendo to the contrary is baseless.”

“The Attorney General was asked today whether I have been interviewed as part of this investigation. The answer is ‘no.'”

“I have built my career in public service on honest and ethical behavior. My decisions and reforms protect the interests of the one million members of the New York State Common Retirement Fund and the taxpayers.”

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Malpass To Gillibrand: Dump Global

The political fallout from today’s settlement between Global Strategy Group and AG Andrew Cuomo’s office is beginning, with one of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s Republican opponents, David Malpass, calling on her to dump the consulting firm from her re-election effort.

“Ms. Gillibrand has a clear choice: She can continue her association with a firm involved in the New York Pension Fund Scandal, or she can cut her ties with them immediately,” said Malpass spokeswoman Jessica Proud.

“This is a real test of Senator Gillibrand’s priorities. Will she stand with the taxpayers or with her tainted political advisors?”

Global has been with Gillibrand since the very beginning. Pollster Jef Pollock worked on her successful 2006 effort to oust then-GOP Rep. John Sweeney – campaign that drew national attention and was one of the dirtiest of that election cycle.

Global also worked on Andrew Cuomo’s AG campaign that year, as well as on Eliot Spitzer’s gubernatorial bid. Now that Spitzer is gone and Cuomo, as he said earlier today, he has severed ties with the firm, Gillibrand is Global’s highest-profile candidate in New York, although it has offices and candidates outside the state, too.

NYLCV Deploys A Roosevelt

The New York League of Conservation Voters has launched a fundraising campaign to refill the coffers of its Climate Action PAC in hopes of rebuilding “environmental leadership in state government,” according to an e-mail sent to the group’s supporters by board member Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt V.

“Protecting New York State’s natural treasures is a time-honored family tradition,” Roosevelt writes.

“It’s also a bi-partisan principle for a long line of New York governors (including my great-great grandfather) and courageous legislators who had the foresight to protect the Adirondacks, to save the Hudson River and to create the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF).”

“I am, like many New Yorkers, deeply troubled by the state’s budget proposal to close our parks, raid the EPF and gut our environmental enforcement agencies. Budget cuts in these tough times are necessary, but the environment is being asked to bear a disproportionately large burden – one that threatens our drinking water, air and quality of life.”

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Under Fire, Perkins Launchs Re-election Effort

Sen. Bill Perkins, whose outspokenness has so angered some fellow Democrats and charter school advocates that they’re shopping for a primary challenger to run against him, will formally kick off his campaign this Sunday.

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The event at Gran Piatto d’Oro on Fifth Avenue is a combination announcement/fundraiser and birthday party, according to an invite that landed in my in-box earlier today. Tickets are going for $100 (friend) to $5,000 (sponsor) a head.

Perkins holds the Harlem seat that used to belong to Gov. David Paterson, which is why his call for the governor not to seek re-election and step down if, in fact, allegations that he had meddled in David Johnson’s domestic violence case were true, were all the more potent – and hurtful, in the eyes of Paterson’s allies.

Those same allies (read: protectors of the old Democratic Harlem power base) have been none too pleased with Perkins’ flirting with a potential primary challenge to another veteran Democratic lawmaker: Rep. Charlie Rangel.
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DSCC Staffs Up, Revamps

The state Democratic Senate Campaign Committee has a new staffing line-up and a new-and-improved Web site – complete with blog! – in preparation for the upcoming campaign season (assuming the budget ever gets passed).

The hires are as follows:

– Eric Blankenbaker, press secretary. Worked for former Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi’s unsuccessful gubernatorial campaign, on Sen. Joe Lieberman’s 2006 re-election campaign, and led a PR firm (Strauss Radio Strategies) in Washington, D.C.

– Michelle Gross, finance director. Worked for veteran Democratic fundraiser Cindy Darrison on, among other things, Eliot Spitzer’s 2006 campaign for governor.

– Jebel Bennett, deputy finance director. Has worked in NYC and Washington as a political and institutional fundraiser.

– Michael Connery, new media director. Is a political blogger and on-line maven. He has been writing the DSCC’s new blog.

– Jeremy John, political director. Coming to the political side from the government side. Has managed and/or worked field for a number of recent campaigns, including Sen. Joe Addabbo and Sen. Brian Foley.

The DSCC has been slowly remaking itself as Democratic Conference Leader John Sampson settles ever more comfortably into spearheading the majority’s political operation – a job once performed by Senate President Malcolm Smith.

In February Sampson announced he had tapped Deputy Majority Leader Jeff Klein to chair the DSCC, while Sens. Liz Krueger, Smith and Antoine Thompson to serve as co-chairs.

The DSCC’s first hire in the Sampson era was Executive Director Josh Cherwin, a longtime operative for former VP Al Gore.

Gov: Paladino E-mails ‘Outrageous’, But We’re Stuck With Him

Gov. David Paterson said this morning that the state will honor GOP gubernatorial hopeful Carl Paladino’s existing contracts, even though he found the sexually and racially explicit e-mails forwarded by the Buffalo businessman “outrageous.”

NY1’s Michael Scotto was at Grand Central this morning, where the governor was attending the Intrepid Museum’s campaign to bring a NASA space shuttle to NYC.

During the post-event Q&A, Paterson said that while Paladino “has a first amendment right to say what he wants and do what he wants,” he shouldn’t necessarily have exercised it to the extent that he has.

“I think part of governance involves a certain level of respect and integrity and caring for people of this state, so some of the emails that I heard and read about were absolutely outrageous,” Paterson said.

“It actually caused me to take a look at some contracts, our leasing agreements with Mr. Paladino to see if we had any kind of moral turpitude clause, which we don’t, and he successfully won those bids and we’ll honor them.”

“But I just thought that at this time, with all the problems people are having, for them to have to be exposed to language and just smearing of people, their race and the other kind of sick stuff that was on there, I didn’t find it funny at all.”

The state Office of General Services yesterday called on Paladino to withdraw a pending lease for the Workers Compensation Board office on Main Street in downtown Buffalo, but Paladino has shown no interest in doing so, accusing the state of wanting to give his leases to their “cronies.”

DiNapoli In Cuomo’s Crosshairs

For the first time, it has become clear that AG Andrew Cuomo’s pay-to-play pension fund investigation has extended to include activities undertaken during the tenure of the current state comptroller, and Cuomo’s potential statewide ticket mate this fall, Tom DiNapoli.

During a telephone press conference this morning, Cuomo and his special counsel, Linda Lacewell, confirmed an April 5, 2007 meeting between Global Strategy Group’s Jon Silvan, a partner from Intermedia (a private equity investment firm seeking pension fund investments) and a MirRam Executive and DiNapoli at his Manhattan office is part of the AG’s probe.

The meeting was referenced in the settlement between Global and the AG in which the firm agreed to pay $2 million for acting as an unlicensed placement agent.

“In the investigation we investigate facts not people,” Lacewell said. “We’re pursuing the facts of the case. Those facts that we’re reviewing and trying to understand include the facts and circumstances of what is set forth in that agreement and that meeting.”

When pressed by the DN’s Ken Lovett as to whether this indicates the AG’s office is indeed “looking into possible improprieties in the current comptroller’s office,” Lacewell replied: “As a matter of logic.”
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Cuomo Settles With Quadrangle, Global

AG Andrew Cuomo just announced he has reached multimillion-dollar settlements in his ongoing pay-to-play pension fund probe with two investment firms and three unlicensed brokers – including the Quadrangle Group, which used to handle Mayor Bloomberg’s money, and the political consulting firm Global Strategy Group.

According to a press release from Cuomo’s office, Quadrangle will pay $7 million; GKM Newport Generation and Global’s will pay $2 million.

In addition, GKM Newport Generation Capital Services will pay the equivilent of $1.6 million, California lobbying firm Platinum Advisors will pay $500,000; and unlicensed placement agent Kevin McCabe (a former political strategist for ex-NYC Council Speaker Peter Vallone Sr.) will pay $715,000.

All parties have agreed to comply with the AG’s Public Pension Fund Reform Code of Conduct.

Cuomo will be joined this morning on a telephone press conference by good government advocates who will add their voices to his call for pension fund reform that would change management of the fund from a sole trusteeship to a board system.
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