Gotham Gazette http://www.gothamgazette.com/component/tags/tag/240 Thu, 20 Sep 2018 09:02:17 +0000 Joomla! - Open Source Content Management en-gb webmaster@gothamgazette.com (Webmaster) The 2018 Elections in New York http://www.gothamgazette.com/election-coverage/2018-elections http://www.gothamgazette.com/election-coverage/2018-elections Andrew Cuomo voting

Gov. Cuomo votes (photo via The Governor's Office)


In 2018, New York will be home to elections for statewide seats including Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, and Comptroller, as well as one of its two United States Senate seats. In all five positions but Attorney General, incumbent Democrats are seeking reelection. In three -- Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Attorney General -- there are competitive primaries that will be decided Thursday September 13.

New York is also home this year to elections for all of its 27 seats in The House of Representatives -- races that will help determine which political party controls the chamber -- and in the state Legislature, with its 63 state Senate seats and 150 Assembly seats. The state Senate races will determine which party controls the chamber, which Republicans currently lead by a slight margin due to the defection of rogue Democrats. The Assembly is certain to remain solidly in Democratic hands.

Congressional primaries occured June 26; while primaries for the state-level elections will occur September 13. Election Day -- with the general election for all 2018 races -- will occur November 6. (There were also special elections April 24 to fill 11 vacancies in the state Legislature, two in the Senate and nine in the Assembly.)

As New Yorkers prepare to go to the polls for the September 13 primaries, which are largely on the Democratic side, and the November 6 general election, our ongoing election coverage:

Gotham Gazette's ongoing coverage of the 2018 elections in New York, with the most recent first:

Republican Slate Seeks to End Statewide Drought by Ben Brachfeld & Samar Khurshid

How Insurgent Forces Activated, Educated and Brought the IDC Down by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

A Closer Look at Democratic Primary Turnout, Margins and Geography by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

The Real Story of Cuomo’s Dominant Primary Win by Howard Glaser (September 2018)

2018 New York State Primary Results: Cuomo, Hochul, James Prevail While Senate Upsets Abound by Ben Max (September 2018)

Cuomo and Hochul Win Primaries, Again Form Democratic General Election Ticket by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

James Eyes Statewide History as Democratic Attorney General Nominee by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Teachout-Maloney Battle May Help James Win Attorney General Nomination by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Primary Day Is Here by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)

Ahead of Primary, Cuomo Gives Limited Insight into Third Term Agenda by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

A Closer Look at the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ Legal Careers by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

Last-Minute Guide to Voting on Primary Day, September 13 by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)

Get Ready to Vote in the Hochul-Williams Lieutenant Governor Primary by Sam Raskin (September 2018)

How ‘Independent’ Must the New York Attorney General Be? by Gerald Benjamin (September 2018)

One of the State's Most Powerful Unions Tries to Take Down One of Its Most Powerful Politicians by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Vacancy in the Public Advocate's Office? Call the City Council Speaker by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Final Days of the Lieutenant Governor Primary by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (September 2018)

In Brooklyn, Blake Morris Tries to Upend the State Senate Power Balance All By Himself by Ben Brachfeld (September 2018)

Statewide Candidates File Final Pre-Primary Campaign Finance Disclosures by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Candidates in Contested State Senate Primaries File Final Pre-Primary Financials by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

Potentially Crowded Public Advocate Special Election Could Feature Two Former Council Speakers by Samar Khurshid (September 2018)

WATCH: Lieutenant Governor Democratic Primary Debate Between Kathy Hochul and Jumaane Williams moderated by Ben Max (August 2018)

Alleging Lies, Molinaro Seeks to Have Cuomo Attack Ad Pulled by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

Hochul Asserts Previously Unmentioned Role in Anti-Sexual Harassment Laws by Sam Raskin (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Intense Queens Senate Primary Centers on Delivering for Immigrant Communities, with Jessica Ramos & State Senator Jose Peralta by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)

Hochul, Williams Outline Drastic Differences in Lieutenant Governor Debate by Sam Raskin (August 2018)

Arguing Throughout, Cuomo and Nixon Debate Experience and Vision by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Nixon Says 'Narrow Path' to Victory Paved with Newly-Registered Progressives Polls ‘Not Capturing’ by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Opponents Target Teachout as Democratic Attorney General Candidates Debate Role and Resumes by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

How Ronald Reagan’s 1966 Run for Governor Prefaced Cynthia Nixon’s Today by Caitlin Bishop (August 2018)

Pressed on SAFE Act, Teachout Downplays Past Opposition by Sam Raskin (August 2018)

Being Labeled the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’ Isn't Enough by attorney general candidate Letitia James (August 2018)

Running for Attorney General, James Takes Strong Atlantic Yards Record Too Far by Norman Oder (August 2018)

Manhattan Senate Debate Offers Another Round of IDC Argument, Few Ideas to Fix NYCHA or the MTA by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

'Speaker Heastie PAC' Brings in Big Money from Special Interests, Starts Giving to Candidates by Samar Khurshid & Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

Rep. Jeffries Backs Gov. Cuomo for Reelection by Chelsey Sanchez & Ben Max (August 2018)

Some New York Democrats are Backing Nixon for Governor and James for Attorney General by Samar Khurshid & Ben Max (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Preparing for Primary Day by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)

Democratic Attorney General Candidates Seek to Set Themselves Apart During First Televised Debate by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

At Brooklyn Forum, Nixon Pitches Policy, Criticizes Cuomo and Distances from De Blasio by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

What You Can Learn From Gubernatorial Candidates' Campaign Websites by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

Democratic Candidates for Governor and Lieutenant Governor File Pre-Primary Fundraising Numbers by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Ahead of Primary, Democrats Running for Attorney General File Campaign Finance Disclosures by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

How Much Does Brooklyn Congressional Primary Result Show Path in Overlapping State Senate Race? by Daniel Yadin (August 2018)

Rematch of Tight Manhattan Senate Primary Takes Shape in Different Political Environment by Chelsey Sanchez (August 2018)

Independence from Cuomo, or Lack Thereof, Becomes Flashpoint in Attorney General Race by Chelsey Sanchez & Ben Max (August 2018)

Running for Attorney General, James Outlines Initial Policy Platform by Ben Brachfeld (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Queens State Senate Rematch Features Different Kinds of Democrat by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Sean Patrick Maloney by Ben Max (August 2018)

Cuomo Brought Rogue Democrats Back, But Hasn't Offered or Accepted Endorsements by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Cuomo and Legislative Leaders Silent Amid Intensifying Calls for Sexual Harassment Hearings by Samar Khurshid (August 2018)

Key to Victory, Black Voters Appear Solidly Behind Cuomo Over by Mike Vilensky Nixon (August 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Manhattan State Senate Rematch Centered on Breakaway Democrats by Ben Max (August 2018)

In Wide Open Lieutenant Governor Primary, Hochul Targets Votes in Williams’ Backyard by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (August 2018)

'Undecided' Leads Competitive Democratic Attorney General Primary by Samar Khurshid & Ben Max (August 2018)

What New York Voters Care About Ahead of State Elections by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (July 2018)

Eyeing Ad Revenue and Antitrust Laws, Teachout Targets Tech Giants in Wake of Daily News Layoffs by Ben Brachfeld (July 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Leecia Eve by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)

In Midst of Attorney General Campaign, Teachout to Join New York Bar by Ben Max (July 2018)

In Democratic Senate Primary, Barkan Criticizes Gounardes for Embracing 'Anti-Immigrant' Reform Party Leader by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Leading Immigrant-Advocacy Group Backs Ramos in Bid to Unseat Peralta by Chelsey Sanchez (July 2018)

Inside the Democratic Attorney General Candidates’ July Campaign Finance Filings by Ben Brachfeld (July 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Letitia James & the Attorney General Primary by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)

The July Financial Picture for Former Breakaway Democrats and Their Primary Challengers by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Statewide Candidates File July Fundraising Numbers by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Amid Primary Fights, Cuomo and Hochul Increase Frequency of Joint Governmental Events by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (July 2018)

Assembly Race Poses Another Test for Queens Machine by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

The Cynthia Nixon-Working Families Party Back-up Plan by Ben Max (July 2018)

I’m with Cynthia Because She Stands for Schools, Not Jails by Antonio Reynoso (July 2018)

New York Democrats’ Season of Choosing by Samar Khurshid (July 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Attorney General Candidate Zephyr Teachout by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (July 2018)

EMILY’s List Backs Hochul for Reelection as Lieutenant Governor by Ben Max (July 2018)

Running for State Senate, Julia Salazar Attempts Progressive Primary Upset by Daniel Yadin (July 2018)

Democratic Candidates for Attorney General Plant Campaign Flags by Ben Brachfeld & Ben Max (June 2018)

A Closer Look at Voter Turnout in 2018 New York Congressional Primaries by Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)

New York General Election Congressional Matchups to Watch by Samar Khurshid & Daniel Yadin (June 2018)

Molinaro Starts Campaign on Attack, Policy Plans to Come by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)

Ocasio-Cortez Upsets Crowley, Donovan Defeats Grimm & Other 2018 New York Congressional Primary Results by Ben Max & Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)

Hochul: Divided Democratic Party Only Benefits Republicans by Caitlin Bishop (June 2018)

Donovan, Grimm in Final Days of Contentious Congressional Primary by Jordan Kimmel & Chelsey Sanchez (June 2018)

Democratic Campaign Chief: Even a ‘Blue Trickle’ Will Flip State Senate by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)

Andrea Stewart-Cousins on Democratic Unity and the ‘Value’ of Primaries by Chelsey Sanchez (June 2018)

Citing Broken Cuomo Promises, Nixon Unveils Campaign Finance Reform Plan by Samar Khurshid (June 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)

On Taxes, the MTA and More, Molinaro Discusses Developing Campaign Platform by Shant Shahrigian (June 2018)

New York Congressional Primaries to Watch Ahead of June 26 Vote by Jordan Kimmel & Daniel Yadin (June 2018)

Teachout Launches Attorney General Campaign with Focus on Trump by Ben Brachfeld (June 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (June 2018)

Inside Cynthia Nixon’s Developing Campaign Infrastructure by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)

Stephanie Miner Diagnoses What’s Wrong with New York Politics by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions & Nominations by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (May 2018)

Rallying Volunteers, Nixon Responds to Democratic Convention Result by Caitlin Bishop (May 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: State Party Conventions & Nominations by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (May 2018)

Three Themes to Watch at State Democratic Convention by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)

Cuomo-Launched Women’s Equality Party Will Soon Make Statewide Nominations by Ben Max (May 2018)

Party Nominations for Statewide Elections Come Into Focus by Ben Max (May 2018)

James Victory in Attorney General Race Would Trigger Citywide Special Election by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)

Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General by Samar Khurshid (May 2018)

Exploring Attorney General Run, Zephyr Teachout Pursues Working Families Nomination, Democratic Ballot Line by Ben Max (May 2018)

The Contradictions of Cross-Endorsements in the Governor’s Race by Howie Hawks (May 2018)

Marc Molinaro and The Trump Question by Ben Max (May 2018)

Defining 'Real Democrat,' Cynthia Nixon Offers Early Policy Platform by Ben Max & Matthew Sweeney (May 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Political Purity Tests in New York by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy of City Limits (April 2018)

As Cuomo Chooses Democratic Unity, Party Activist Base Chooses Nixon by David Colon (April 2018)

Special Election Results for 11 State Legislative Seats by Ben Max (April 2018)

Progressives Draft Convention Resolution to Allow Unaffiliated Voters in Democratic Primary by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

Progressives Draft Convention Resolution to Allow Unaffiliated Voters in Democratic Primary by Ashley Hupfl (April 2018)

Major Cuomo Supporters Don’t Want a Democratic State Senate by Ben Brachfeld (April 2018)

Republican Governors Association ‘Keeping Close Eye’ on New York by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

Cuomo's Progressive Promises, Reminiscent of Four Years Ago, Received Differently by Sam Raskin (April 2018)

Molinaro Outlines Initial Ethics and Campaign Finance Reform Agenda by Ben Max (April 2018)

Nixon Candidacy Spotlights Education Advocacy Group by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

After Government Investment, Cuomo Taps Brewing Industry for Campaign Contributions by Shant Shahrigian (April 2018)

Cuomo, State Democrats Issue Misleading Pleas About Flipping Senate by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

Nixon-Cuomo Primary Spotlights Role of State Democratic Party by Samar Khurshid (April 2018)

In Run for Governor, Marc Molinaro Will Make a Character Argument by Ben Max (March 2018)

Cynthia Nixon Recently Re-registered to Vote in Manhattan by Ben Max (March 2018)

‘Sex and the City’ Likely to Stay on Air Through Nixon-Cuomo Primary by Ben Brachfeld (March 2018)

Cuomo Campaign Removes Misleading Boast of Old Endorsements by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Cynthia Nixon Announces Democratic Primary Challenge to Governor Cuomo by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Progressive Groups Endorse Democrat in Key Westchester Senate Race by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Molinaro Emerges on Top After Manhattan GOP Gubernatorial Candidate Forum by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: A Journalist Runs for State Senate A Journalist Runs for State Senate by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy (March 2018)

Poll Targeting Brooklyn District Gauges Anti-IDC Sentiment by Rachel Silberstein (March 2018)

Fierce Cuomo Critics, De Blasio-Allied Advisors Have Been ‘Ready for Cynthia’ by Samar Khurshid (March 2018)

Senate Candidates Outline Primary Campaigns Against ‘Trump Democrats by Matthew Sweeney & Ben Max (March 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: IDC Challengers Robert Jackson & Jessica Ramos by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)

As Hochul Pushes Cuomo Agenda, Williams Takes on Both in Primary Challenge by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)

Max & Murphy Podcast: Lieutenant Governor Candidate Jumaane Williams by Ben Max & Jarrett Murphy (February 2018)

11 Special Elections Set for April 24 by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)

Staten Island Activist Eyes Primary Challenge to IDC Senator Savino by Rachel Silberstein (February 2018)

Running Without Establishment Support, IDC Challengers Show Initial Fundraising Strides by Rachel Silberstein (January 2018)

2018 Will Be a Busy, Contentious Election Year in New York by Matthew Sweeney (January 2018)

City Council Member Jumaane Williams to Explore Run for Lieutenant Governor by Ben Max (January 2018)

Possible GOP Gubernatorial Candidates Weigh Chances to Unseat Cuomo by Rachel Silberstein (November 2017)

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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The 2018 Elections in New York Tue, 27 Feb 2018 05:00:00 +0000
Max & Murphy Podcast: Letitia James & the Attorney General Primary http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7812:max-murphy-podcast-letitia-james-the-attorney-general-primary http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7812:max-murphy-podcast-letitia-james-the-attorney-general-primary mxm logo

Ben Max, left, of Gotham Gazette, and Jarrett Murphy, right, of City Limits


July 18, 2018 - Max & Murphy Podcast: Letitia James & the Attorney General Primary

ag candidate letitia jamesOn Wednesday, July 18, the Max & Murphy podcast moved to the airwaves of WBAI radio, 99.5FM and wbai.org, where the hosts will weekly interview guests, discuss key issues, and take calls from listeners -- every Wednesday 5-6 p.m. The first show focused on the Democratic primary for Attorney General, with guest Letitia James, the New York City Public Advocate now seeking to become the AG. James joined the show to discuss her candidacy, how she stands out from her competition -- Zephyr Teachout, Leecia Eve, and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney -- her relationship with Governor Andrew Cuomo, how she would fight public corruption, and much more. James also took a couple of listener calls. The show additionally included discussion of the race by the hosts, a short clip of last week's conversation with Teachout, and a couple of other listener calls for the hosts.

Listen to the full conversation and let us know what you think -- we're on Twitter @TweetBenMax and @JarrettMurphy. You can listen to the show through the embedded audio below or download the episode wherever you get your podcasts, under "Max & Murphy," and listen to the show on Wednesdays at 5 p.m. on WBAI radio.

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

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Max & Murphy Podcast: Letitia James & the Attorney General Primary Wed, 18 Jul 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Statewide Candidates File July Fundraising Numbers http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7810:statewide-candidates-file-july-fundraising-numbers http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7810:statewide-candidates-file-july-fundraising-numbers Cuomo check

Gov. Cuomo at a funding event (photo: The Governor's Office)


With less than two months till the September 13 primary election, candidates running for state office filed campaign financial disclosure reports with the New York State Board of Elections by the Monday deadline, showing fundraising and expenditures from a six-month period between January 16 and July 16.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, the two-term incumbent Democrat who is running for reelection, continues to maintain an overwhelming funding advantage with more than $31 million in his campaign coffers. Cuomo raised more than $6 million since January and spent about $5.3 million in the same period.

Cuomo’s campaign attempted to tout the number of small-dollar donations it received, likely a response to criticism of the governor’s reliance on wealthy donors and contributions from Limited Liability Companies (LLCs). The campaign said 57 percent of the number of donations received were for less than $250. But those donations only added up to less than $64,000, eliding the fact that nearly 99 percent of the total value of the fundraising came from big donors, including $500,000 in corporate donations and $2.5 million from LLCs and PACs. Cuomo also received 69 separate contributions from the same individual, Christopher Kim of Long Island City, which his primary opponent Cynthia Nixon, the actor and education activist, called an attempt to “astroturf” his campaign (New York Times reporter Shane Goldmacher found that Kim shares an address with a Cuomo aide; several other Cuomo aides, relatives of aides, and long-time associates gave Cuomo small donations in an apparent attempt to inflate his small-dollar numbers).

Nixon, who has staked her campaign on small donors, has been issuing scathing critiques of Cuomo’s fundraising practices that she says are a symptom and cause of a pay-to-play culture in state government. Nixon brought in about $500,000 in the last six months, paling in comparison with Cuomo’s haul, and spent about $274,000. Her campaign has noted that she received more than 30,000 individual contributions since she launched her campaign, and that 97 percent of those were small-dollar contributions. She has just under $658,000 in cash-on-hand.

Marc Molinaro, the Republican nominee for governor who doesn’t have a primary challenger, raised more than $1.1 million and has spent $250,000, leaving him with $887,000 with four months to go until the November 7 Election Day. Molinaro’s general election competition will become more clear after the Democratic primary is settled, but there are several smaller party and independent candidates running. His running-mate, Julie Killian, does not appear to have filed her discloure yet, but Molinaro's campaign filing shows a $45,000 loan from Killian herself, as reported by Nick Reisman of Spectrum News.

Green Party nominee Howie Hawkins brought in $24,000 and spent $7,000 in the filing period, leaving him just under $17,000 in his campaign account.

Former Democratic Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, who only jumped into the governor’s race last month and is running as an independent, and her running mate Republican Michael Volpe, the mayor of Pelham, together raised $409,000, spent $247,000 and have $162,000 in cash on hand. The two plan a general election ticket on the Serve America Movement ballot line, for which they are petitioning with the help of the organizers of the new movement.

Libertarian gubernatorial candidate Larry Sharpe, who, like Miner, is petitioning his way onto the general election ballot, has raised $115,000, but his expenditures amounted to $154,000, leaving him with a negative balance of just above $13,000.

Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, a Democrat seeking a second term alongside Cuomo, faces New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams in the primary, which will be Thursday, September 13. Hochul reported an intake of $1.25 million and had only spent $150,000 in the same time. She has about $1.24 million at her disposal. Williams’ fundraising report was delayed in being published to the Board of Elections website, something the campaign said was over "technical issues" and Hochul criticized him for.

"Our campaign's financial disclosure report was filed on time Monday evening but there were technical issues that we are working with the Board of Elections to immediately address," said William Gerlich, a spokesperson for Williams' campaign, in a Tuesday statement. Gerlich said Williams had raised nearly $200,000. When the report was finally published, it showed Williams having raised $183,469.62 and spending $137,967.13, to leave a balance of $45,502.49. However, the campaign appeared to take in several corporate contributions over the limit, and a subsequent need to refund several thousand dollars.

Candidates for governor and lieutenant governor run separately in a primary and on a joint ticket in the general.

Four candidates are competing for the Democratic nomination for attorney general, in a spirited race that has seen several of them posting strong fundraising numbers.

New York City Public Advocate Letitia James was chosen as the Democratic Party’s designee at its state convention. Before her disclosure was posted to the BOE website, her campaign claimed it had raised more than $1.1 million in just two months, and nearly 60 percent of the contributors gave $200 or less. According to the actual filing, James raised exactly $1,165,897.55 and spent $174,417.04, leaving her campaign $991,480.51 in the bank.

Zephyr Teachout, the Fordham Law professor who unsuccessfully challenged Governor Cuomo in the 2014 Democratic primary, is running for attorney general, pledging to refuse corporate, LLC, and PAC donations. Teachout showed about $551,000 in fundraising from more than 10,000 individual donors -- 97 percent of her funds came from donors who gave less than $200 -- and has spent about $284,000. She has $314,000 in cash on hand.

Former Cuomo and Hillary Clinton aide Leecia Eve raised $300,000 in total for her bid for attorney general and spent about $50,000. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney reported a $1.1 million haul and spent $145,000, but his campaign told The New York Times last week that he has another $3.1 million in funds raised for his congressional reelection that he believes he can use in the statewide race. He is running for both offices simultaneously, with the state AG primary set to determine whether he stays on the November ballot for congressional reelection.

The latest filings also revealed that former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned after facing accusations of physical abuse by several romantic partners, triggering the Democratic primary, returned $982,000 to campaign contributors. He still has several million dollars in the bank.

Keith Wofford, the Republican nominee for attorney general, raised more than $1 million in total and has only spent about $25,000 since entering the race. He is not facing a primary.

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, an incumbent Democrat, isn’t facing a primary opponent this year either. He reported raising $683,000 since January and spent $351,000. He has about $2.6 million in his campaign account, eclipsing his two general election opponents.

John Trichter, until recently a registered Democrat, received the Republican Party’s nomination for comptroller. Trichter has only raised $156,000 and spent $18,500. He has about $138,000 in his campaign chest. The Green Party’s Mark Dunlea is also running for comptroller and has $5,000 in campaign cash.

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: This article has been updated with comment from a spokesperson for Jumaane Williams' campaign and additional information.

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Statewide Candidates File July Fundraising Numbers Tue, 17 Jul 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Democratic Candidates for Attorney General Plant Campaign Flags http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7773:democratic-candidates-for-attorney-general-plant-campaign-flags http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7773:democratic-candidates-for-attorney-general-plant-campaign-flags james teachout eve maloney prim
Tish James, Sean Patrick Maloney, Leecia Eve & Zephyr Teachout (l-r)


The race for attorney general has quickly become one of the most competitive and intriguing of the 2018 election cycle in New York. After Democrat Eric Schneiderman resigned in May following revelations that he had physically and emotionally abused intimate partners, the question immediately arose of who would replace him. With a regularly-scheduled election -- that Schneiderman was expected to win handily -- just months away, potential candidates had a short time to decide whether to run.

After some wrangling, four Democrats decided to throw their hats in the ring: Public Advocate Letitia James; U.S. Representative Sean Patrick Maloney; Verizon executive Leecia Eve; and Fordham law professor Zephyr Teachout. In the early legs of the campaign, each candidate has staked out a different profile and rationale for their run. By and large, they say they would continue much of the work started by Schneiderman and being continued by his replacement, Barbara Underwood, the former solicitor general who the state Legislature voted in as attorney general for the rest of the year and who declared she was not interested in running for election herself.

Schneiderman built a substantial national profile for himself, especially for a state official, through his lawsuits against the Trump administration on matters such as the Muslim travel ban, the rollback of net neutrality, and the rescission of EPA climate regulations. Fighting the federal government aside, much of the ongoing, essential work of the attorney general is in areas of consumer protection, tenant protection, anti-corruption, and prosecution of fraud. It also serves as the state’s chief legal officer in representing New York in legal matters when the state is sued.

Since the office was occupied by Eliot Spitzer, it has become a launching pad for gubernatorial hopefuls, like both Spitzer and Andrew Cuomo, and a space for publicity-minded prosecutors to combat Wall Street, using New York’s comparatively strong anti-fraud statutes such as the 1921 Martin Act. Spitzer, Cuomo, and Schneiderman all turned the office into one with a large political profile, weighing in on policy matters of all kinds. Schneiderman was largely seen as the frontrunner to win the next Democratic nomination for governor after Cuomo’s departure. His political career now appears over.

After public opinion coalesced behind Underwood as Schneiderman’s logical replacement for the rest of the term, roughly ten potential Democratic candidates with interest in the position had to decide whether to launch a campaign ahead of the September primary and November general elections.

James entered the race with clear frontrunner status, receiving endorsements from the State Democratic Party, Governor Andrew Cuomo, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and many other figures, advocacy organizations, and labor unions. But the field was not cleared for her.

James, reelected for a second and final term as public advocate -- the first woman of color to hold a citywide elected office -- in November of last year, is facing serious competition from Teachout, who has a lengthy legal resume and ran for governor in 2014 and Congress in 2016; Maloney, an attorney who worked in the Bill Clinton administration; and Eve, a former aide to Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton when each was a U.S. senator, and to Gov. Cuomo.

Each of the four candidates has sought to define themselves in the early going of the primary, while other general election candidates await to see who is victorious in what promises to be an interesting and hard fought campaign. While James appears to be the early favorite, the race is also wide open, with each candidate possessing certain strengths and constituencies, and a lot still left to play out. The only poll of the race thus far, from Siena College on June 13, showed James leading the pack with 28 percent, Teachout with 18 percent, and Eve with 4 percent; the poll was conducted before Maloney officially entered the race, and 47 percent of those surveyed were unsure.

On Wednesday, Teachout publicly challenged her primary competitors to a series of six broadcast (television and radio) debates around the state. Eve appeared to accept the invitation in a tweet, writing, in part, “I look forward to engaging with my fellow candidates in as many debates as possible, in every region of NYS.”

A campaign spokesperson for James, Delaney Kempner, said, "Tish is prepared to debate anybody and everybody, and she will do that as soon as the Board of Elections certifies candidates." James is the only candidate of the four guaranteed a ballot spot given the support she received at the state convention -- the others must collect petition signatures to qualify.

Asked about the debate challenge, a spokesperson for Maloney said, “The Congressman is focused on reuniting separated immigrant families and stopping the Trump plan to reverse Roe v. Wade by stacking the Supreme Court. It seems premature and presumptuous to be demanding something before you even earn a spot on the ballot. Of course, he’ll eagerly debate at the appropriate time.”

A closer look at how each candidate is framing their attorney general candidacies in the early going:

Tish James
Schneiderman’s resignation opened up James’ dream position. While the public advocate had been eyeing a 2021 run for New York City mayor, her legal background, including work under Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, laid the groundwork for the possibility of an attorney general run at some point. The opportunity came earlier than anyone expected. Upon the vacancy, James was in the running to win legislative appointment, but a variety of factors led to Underwood taking the helm of the office and James running in the primary.

James quickly became the Democratic establishment choice, aligning herself with Cuomo and initially spurning her longtime allies and the governor’s longtime foes in the Working Families Party. The WFP decided to announce its support for both James and Teachout, with the hopes that it will give its general election ballot line to one of the two if either is victorious in the Democratic contest -- and James has expressed love for the WFP and optimism that it will all work out.

She’s promising to be “the people’s lawyer” and to continue her career-long fight for social justice. Her early campaign has shown signs of stress, though, with regard to the close relationship with Cuomo, and calls for the next attorney general to be an independent voice from the governor, especially on matters of government ethics.

After law school, James started her career at the Legal Aid Society, where she worked as a public defender. She became an assistant attorney general under Spitzer, where she said she fought consumer fraud and predatory lending. She has also served as Assembly counsel. James was elected to the New York City Council in 2003, then as public advocate in 2013. She would be the first woman (along with her opponents Teachout and Eve) and woman of color (along with Eve) to be elected attorney general, and the first woman of color to hold statewide elected office in New York.

As public advocate, James has been notably more litigious and legislative than her three predecessors in the office that provides its occupant much latitude to define priorities. She has sued the city to, among other things, block charter school colocation and to get air conditioning on school buses for students with disabilities, and she sued the Staten Island District Attorney to obtain testimony to the grand jury that declined to indict Daniel Pantaleo, the officer whose chokehold killed Eric Garner.

However, all three of those lawsuits, like several others during her tenure, were tossed by the courts, ruling that she had no standing to sue. James’ school bus suit had been allowed to go forward by a Manhattan Supreme Court judge in 2016, and she then won a settlement later that year for her two co-plaintiffs, children with disabilities who did not have access to air conditioned buses. However, the lawsuit to be tossed in 2017 by Manhattan Appellate Court.

James has also had her share of victories as public advocate. Ten pieces of legislation for which she was the primary sponsor have passed through the City Council and been signed by the mayor. Most notably, she championed the cause of prohibiting employers from asking questions about salary history, a move aimed at gender pay equity, which became law in May of 2017. She was also the primary advocate in government for making public school lunches free for all students, which came to fruition last September. Her office publishes an annual list of the “100 worst landlords” in the city, a practice started by her predecessor, Bill de Blasio.

She has also had some successful lawsuits, such as her suit against the city’s finance department over allegedly wrongfully kicking seniors off the rent freeze rolls; the suit was settled for $130,000, covering legal fees and damages for ten plaintiffs.

James has pushed body cameras for police officers and gun control; and she has voiced support for legalizing recreational marijuana, breaking with de Blasio and Cuomo in the process, though Cuomo appears on the verge of a similar stance. She has strong ties to labor unions and to advocacy groups. Notably, some of the progressive Democratic clubs and activists that are set on defeating Cuomo in this year’s primary are supporting James, even as she has allied herself with the governor.

On her campaign website, James lists her top priorities for the attorney general position as “protect consumers from abuse,” “be a strong voice for our children,” “protect our environment for future generations,” “enforce equal pay for equal work,” “defend civil rights for all,” and “protect NYers from the Trump administration’s unlawful actions.”

In an appearance on WQXR’s Capitol Pressroom, James said that she would focus her tenure on issues like consumer fraud and housing discrimination.

James also took a decidedly softer stance on the Joint Committee on Public Ethics (JCOPE), a state-level oversight body, than Teachout. James she said that while the organization has issues, she didn’t think that its executive director should resign without an investigation, as Teachout has called for. In response to calls for a new Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which are being made by Teachout, as well as Cuomo opponents in the gubernatorial race, James also indicated she doesn’t see it as a priority. She has broadly promised, however, to fight corruption in government if elected attorney general.

Zephyr Teachout
Teachout, who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in 2014, is staking her bid for attorney general on four planks: “fighting Trump, taking on Albany corruption, fighting corporate scams and corporate monopolies, and spearheading the moral argument against mass incarceration.” She had been serving as the treasurer for the Cynthia Nixon campaign before resigning gto run for attorney general.

Of all the candidates on the Democratic side, Teachout has been the most critical of Schneiderman’s tenure, saying that he failed to adequately pursue corruption by Trump in both his businesses and government; in state government; and in the real estate and financial sectors.

In her launch video, Teachout notes two instances where she contacted Schneiderman’s office but achieved no results. The first was in 2014, when she asked him to use “the full power of his office” to investigate Cuomo’s shutting down of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission. The second was when, soon after the 2016 election, Teachout asked Schneiderman to join a lawsuit in federal court against Trump regarding the emoluments clause to the U.S. Constitution. Schneiderman did not join the suit. Teachout says that she will join the suit if she wins.

In referring to Schneiderman’s apparent inaction on the Moreland Commission, Teachout said that the state needs an “independent” attorney general, possibly a dig at James, who was endorsed by Cuomo and the State Democratic Party. Teachout also referred to herself as an “outsider” from the notorious political culture in Albany. She has long-called for major changes to state government ethics and campaign finance laws, as well as voting and election laws.

Teachout claims that the Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in state government was never disbanded, though it was “shuttered” at the behest of Cuomo, when it was beginning to investigate donors close to the governor, according to reports. In a statement, Teachout said that she would restart the commission’s work as attorney general.

“The Executive Order 106 creating the Moreland Commission was never formally rescinded. That means that the Attorney General’s power and responsibility to investigate New York corruption persists.” She promised to “use those powers to take on corruption in NYS government.”

Teachout’s platform also includes a heavy emphasis on “trust-busting” and combating corporate mergers such as those of for-profit hospitals and others similar to the cable giant Spectrum. She further hopes to use the office to push criminal justice reforms such as eliminating cash bail and reform of New York’s discovery laws.

As the candidate seemingly furthest to the left, most critical of Cuomo, and least beholden to institutional forces, Teachout is attempting to ride a progressive wave that is fed up with the status quo. On Wednesday, Teachout highlighted that in May she had endorsed Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the self-avowed democratic socialist who pulled off a shocking upset of Rep. Joe Crowley in Tuesday’s congressional primary. Teachout emailed her supporters celebrating the win and pumping up her own campaign. Of Ocasio-Cortez she wrote, “Her win is a testament to what’s possible when you run a bold, progressive campaign that speaks directly to voters.” She added: “What’s more exciting? We’re next.”

Like with the calls for the head of JCOPE to resign and the debate challenge, Teachout is running an aggressive campaign that often forces her opponents to respond to her.

“I am running to be the next Attorney General of New York. I accept no corporate PAC money, and no LLC money,” Teachout tweeted on Thursday. “This is not complicated: No Attorney General should take money from corporations she is charged with overseeing & investigating & whose lawbreaking she may prosecute.”

Leecia Eve
Eve, a former candidate for lieutenant governor, advisor to Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, and Cuomo administration official; and now a lobbyist for Verizon, has so far run a subdued attorney general campaign, though she says that that will soon change.

Eve formerly served in the Cuomo administration as general counsel to Empire State Development, the state’s main economic development organization. She told Gotham Gazette that, despite repeated ethical concerns within the state’s larger economic development apparatus, she was never aware of any corruption within ESD. She currently serves on the board of the Port Authority in a volunteer capacity.

Asked on Capitol Pressroom whether having worked for the governor diminished her independence, Eve said that she was not the candidate endorsed by the governor or the state Democratic Party. “I have not spoken to the governor about my race,” she said.

She said she would fight endemic corruption in the state as attorney general, and that convening another Moreland Commission should be “under serious consideration.” However, she demurred on harsh criticism of JCOPE or its embattled chair, Seth Agata, whom she has worked with. “Certainly in all my dealings with him,” she said, referring to her time serving in the Cuomo administration, “he conducted himself with integrity and honor.” On “Capitol Pressroom,” she implied that Teachout was “grabbing headlines” by calling for Agata to resign and criticizing JCOPE.

Like James, she would be the first woman of color to serve in statewide elected office. Asked on Capitol Pressroom by host Susan Arbetter whether it was important for New York’s “top law enforcement official” to be a woman of color, as laid out by activist groups like Black Lives Matter, Eve agreed that it matters, but implied that experience should not be discounted. Eve claims that she is the most qualified candidate running for the post.

In Washington, she worked for the law firm Covington and Burling, followed by a stint at Biden’s senatorial office, where she worked on the Violence Against Women Act and the controversial 1996 immigration bill. Afterwards, she served as counsel to New York Senator Hillary Clinton. She ran for lieutenant governor in 2006 but was passed over for the ticket with Eliot Spitzer, then the attorney general; she wistfully notes that if she, rather than David Paterson, had been selected, she would have become the governor given Spitzer’s resignation in disgrace.

Eve has won the endorsement of the Erie County Democratic Party, the local party organization for her hometown of Buffalo (she now lives in Manhattan). She applied for the legislative appointment, but withdrew her name in favor of appointing Underwood. She claims that she has seen the inside of a courtroom more than any other candidate, part of why she says she is the most qualified to serve as attorney general.

Eve told Gotham Gazette she will soon be transitioning to full-time campaigning, and told Gotham Gazette that she would continue Schneiderman’s lawsuit against the federal government over the rollback of net neutrality, despite her employment by telecommunications giant Verizon. Eve claimed that Verizon supports net neutrality, though the company publicly supported the FCC’s rollback of net neutrality rules and lobbied states not to pass their own net neutrality provisions.

“I am unequivocally, 1000 percent in support of net neutrality,” she said, noting that Verizon takes the position that companies should not engage in “throttling, blocking, or engaged in paid prioritization.” She said she would support the continuation of the lawsuit, but would extricate herself from the actual lawsuit. “What is most appropriate for me is to recuse myself from that process, but I would expect extraordinary lawyer of the Office of Attorney General to continue that work.”

Sean Patrick Maloney
Rep. Maloney, of Putnam County is running for attorney general while also running for reelection to Congress. He was not challenged in the congressional primary on Tuesday, and has said if he wins the AG primary in September, he will then remove himself from the general election ballot for the House. It is a curious, controversial move that has his Republican congressional opponent calling foul and some Democrats scratching their heads. It also has his legal team and other lawyers preparing for a possibly challenge to his ballot status.

Maloney ran for AG in 2006, coming in a distant third place in the primary, in a race won by Andrew Cuomo. Before that run and his subsequent successful congressional campaign, he worked for multiple Manhattan law firms, as well as in Albany and Washington.

As a candidate, Maloney has placed significant focus on combating the Trump administration on issues such as LGBTQ rights. Maloney, who is gay, said the issue is “personal for me and my family.”

Maloney also stated on Twitter that he is in favor of net neutrality, saying that its repeal “will only hurt New York families.” Further, he endorsed the legalization of marijuana.

In contrast to the more liberal James and Teachout, Maloney is more of a centrist, perhaps a necessity to represent a congressional district won by Donald Trump. He is a member of the “New Democrat Coalition,” which describes itself as “a solutions oriented coalition seeking to bridge the gap between left and right by challenging outmoded partisan approaches to governing.”

In an appearance on the Capitol Pressroom soon after announcing his campaign, he said he would continue a lawsuit against Exxon filed by Schneiderman and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, and would also seek to hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for the spread of opioids. On ICE in courtrooms, his answer was evasive. Maloney also boasted of having passed “30 bipartisan bills” in his congressional tenure on behalf of veterans, farmers, and trains, and that he played a significant role in stopping “Trumpcare” in Congress.

If elected attorney general, Maloney’s adversarialism toward Wall Street may not be as strong as James’ or Teachout’s would be. According to Public Citizen, Maloney has accepted almost $500,000 in donations from the financial sector over the course of his career. In May, he voted for a bill in Congress that significantly diminished the post-recession regulations on the financial sector.

Like his opponents, Maloney is taking a hard line on Trump. On Capitol Pressroom he said he is “playing defense” in Congress, but that he wishes to “get on offense” against Trump as attorney general.

“Changes to the #SupremeCourt mean our democratic values are under attack by this president and his goons that think we should roll back rights on minorities, women, and #LGBTQ people,” Maloney tweeted on Thursday. “We can’t let it stand. Fight back with me,” he added, with a link to his campaign website.

Maloney’s campaign declined an interview request from Gotham Gazette, citing a busy schedule in Washington, D.C.

The winner of the Democratic primary for attorney general will face Republican nominee Keith Wofford and other smaller party candidates in the general election.

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by Ben Brachfeld, Gotham Gazette

Read more by this writer.

Ben Max contributed to this article.

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Democratic Candidates for Attorney General Plant Campaign Flags Thu, 28 Jun 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Three Themes to Watch at State Democratic Convention http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7683:three-themes-to-watch-at-the-state-democratic-convention http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7683:three-themes-to-watch-at-the-state-democratic-convention New York convention Cuomo

New York Democrats at the 2016 DNC (photo: New York Democratic Party)


This year’s statewide election campaigns are in full swing, with the Democrats and Republicans hosting their nominating conventions this week. While Republicans are set to back a unified slate of candidates to avoid contested primaries, the Democratic Party finds itself in a degree of turmoil with multiple incumbents facing primary challenges from the left and a progressive base increasingly disillusioned with the state party machinery.

As the September primary and November general ballots begin to take shape, all eyes are on the State Democratic Committee, which will host its convention at Hofstra University on Long Island on Wednesday and Thursday, kicking off with a keynote speech from former U.S. Senator from New York, Secretary of State, and Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Democrats from across the state, including more than 300 state committee members, will gather to vote on their preferred nominees and on various proposed resolutions and party rule changes.

Nominations for Statewide Positions
There’s little doubt that Governor Andrew Cuomo, who is running for a third term, and his running mate, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who is seeking a second term, will be chosen as the state party’s nominees at the convention. Though both are being challenged from within the party, their nominations seem a foregone conclusion, according to a leaked convention agenda first reported by NY1’s Zack Fink.

The key question, though, is how much support Cuomo and Hochul will each earn from their party members.

Cuomo is being challenged in the primary by actor and activist Cynthia Nixon, who won the nomination of the Working Families Party over the weekend and is guaranteed a spot on the general election ballot if she and the party decide to keep her there. As per the Democratic Party’s bylaws, a candidate will have to receive 50 percent of the weighted vote of committee members at the convention to win the primary nomination. Cuomo controls the state party apparatus and has enough support to be guaranteed the nomination. He’s also set to be endorsed by Clinton, who handily won New York in her failed bid for the presidency in 2016.

Nixon would have to receive at least 25 percent of the weighted vote to make it onto the Democratic primary ballot, failing which she would have to gather enough petition signatures to qualify. The same goes for New York City Council Member Jumaane Williams, who is running against Hochul and also has the WFP line. Both Nixon and Williams will be attending the convention. In a statement on Monday, Nixon said, “The Governor and his allies have bullied progressive community groups and rallied the full force of the big money establishment because they know he doesn't have any progressive credentials to stand on. But I won't be scared out of the room. New Yorkers deserve a choice.”

Williams, in a phone interview, said, “I’m confident that I’ll be on the ballot in September.”

While governor and lieutenant governor candidates compete separately in the party primaries, they become a ticket for the general election.

Incumbent Comptroller Tom DiNapoli does not have any challengers and is expected to be nominated again without controversy.

On the other end of the spectrum, the recent resignation of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, following allegations of physical abuse by four women, has led to a small scrum of Democrats vying for the open seat.

The presumed frontrunner is New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, who rejected the WFP’s likely nomination over the weekend to focus on the Democratic convention (and perhaps to side with Cuomo, who had a dramatic falling out with the WFP, and key labor unions who chose Cuomo over the WFP). Fordham Law professor Zephyr Teachout, who challenged Cuomo in the 2014 gubernatorial Democratic primary, is also seeking the Democratic nomination for attorney general, though she has not officially declared her candidacy. The WFP chose a placeholder for their ballot line and expressed support for both James and Teachout and is expected to back whoever prevails in the Democratic primary.

It’s not clear what kind of support Nixon, Williams, and Teachout will receive at the convention. All are popular with the left wing of the Democratic Party, but may not have sway over that many state committee members.

“I feel that it’s going to be a coronation of Andrew Cuomo, you know, pre-orchestrated,” said Jay Bellanca, a state committee member from upstate and co-chair of the New York Progressive Action Network.

New York State Democratic Party Executive Director Geoff Berman said in a phone interview that the nominations are not decided until the votes are complete. He refuted any suggestion that the convention was a formality, as some critics have said.

“I think we have a very strong progressive set of incumbent statewide officeholders who have accomplished a lot and have a strong record to run on for another term,” Berman said. “We have an open attorney general race at this point and I’ll let the members of the committee speak for themselves with their votes.”

“We run an open, fair process,” he insisted.

“The state committee is still...very opaque, even to members and still has the feeling of an insiders club,” said Ben Yee, a state committee member.

“I’m not 100 percent sure that Cynthia and Jumaane will get the 25 percent required to not petition, but I do feel confident that a contingent of state committee members will vote for them,” Yee added. He said there’s a “good chance” they’ll each get the 25 percent.

H. Scottie Coads, a state committee member from Long Island, said she is looking forward to the convention. “We have some really progressive candidates looking to get reelected and I’m supportive of all of them...I’m a team player and I’m staunchly behind my governor,” she said. “It’s an exciting time and I think when you have progressive people running, it’s very important that we put our best foot forward and that’s what we intend to do at the convention. Aside from that, I intend to have a good time.”

Resolutions, Rule Changes & A Rogue Democrat
At each convention, the state committee votes on various resolutions advanced by members and on potential changes to its bylaws. The agenda revealed by NY1 showed proposals that were both humdrum and controversial, some of which were known beforehand.

A prominent rule change introduced by NYPAN’s Bellanca and supported by progressive activists would allow as many as 2.6 million voters unaffiliated with any political party to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary. The change could significantly affect election results though it’s unclear if it can pass the convention since it would require a two-thirds majority of state committee members.

Bellanca pointed to the leaked agenda, in which the resolution was already listed under “tabled,” as proof that the results are predetermined. “I’m expecting it to be somewhat ridiculous,” he said, assuming that that resolution and others that would reform the party are “probably” dead.

“I think they’re going to try and kill them,” he said.

Two resolutions were targeted at rogue state Senator Simcha Felder from Brooklyn. Felder is a registered Democrat who was reelected in 2016 on the Democratic, Republican and Conservative Party lines. He is a conservative who caucuses with Republicans, giving them a one-seat majority in the state Senate and effectively thwarting any legislation forwarded by the more progressive Democratic conference.

The convention’s leaked agenda suggests that certain committee members may seek to kick Felder out of the party, or at least to formally support whoever challenges him in the September primary and devote resources to such a challenger, currently Blake Morris. If Felder is defeated, that alone could flip the state Senate to Democratic control, though there are a number of swing districts around the state that will be at play this fall when the entire Legislature is up for election.

The committee is also expected to take up a resolution to financially support Democrats running for state Senate seats and calling for loyalty pledges from former members of the Senate Independent Democratic Conference -- who used to caucus with Republicans and support their hold on the chamber. Cuomo, who tolerated and allegedly encouraged the IDC’s existence for seven years, recently brought the breakaway conference back into the fold and is taking stronger steps to regain Democratic control of the Senate after lackluster efforts to achieve that in the past, leading to criticism from many Democrats, especially more liberal members of the party.

Another party resolution would call for the closure of the much-derided LLC loophole in the state’s campaign finance law, which allows untold amounts of money to flow to state electoral candidates from hidden donors. Cuomo has repeatedly called on the Legislature to close that gap in the law, even as he has been its biggest beneficiary and declined to voluntarily turn off the spigot.

“The nominations will be pretty straightforward,” Yee said. “It won’t cause too much division...If they try to table the resolutions and refuse to allow debate on opening the primaries or ejecting Felder from the party, it’ll cause displeasure and hurt the trust between the progressives and the party.”

There are other proposals which have yet to be fleshed out but could make for heated debate, including changes to the process of selecting candidates for special elections; changes to how delegates to the Democratic National Convention are chosen; changes to how the state party’s chair and executive committee are chosen; requiring statewide candidates to submit 10 years of tax returns; and an “outside independent investigator for sexual harassment allegations,” among others.

Yee, who serves as secretary for the Manhattan branch of the state party, said that if a resolution calling for more budget transparency from the state committee to its own members fails to pass, it’ll cause consternation among the progressives who are already incensed by what they see as the party’s misuse of funds. Case in point: the party’s massive outlay for a media campaign that seemed to support the governor rather than promote the party’s positions. Yee said the issue was prominent in the last few months but has been subsumed by larger political developments.

Party Unity or Party Fealty?
It’s hard to tell whether the Democrats will emerge from the convention as a unified force or as a fractured party. For many progressives, the nominations seem predetermined and the convention a farcical show of party democracy.

“It’s very finely tuned and finely orchestrated, but I think there’s going to be a lot more contention than we’ve ever seen before at this convention,” Bellanca said. Cuomo’s strongarm tactics have alienated members like Bellanca, who see the governor’s influence extending through the state party and directed at his opponents.

Council Member Williams put the onus on the party leaders, noting that the party hasn’t learned its lesson from the 2016 election, when the DNC chose to support Clinton’s candidacy over Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who energized the left, whom Williams endorsed. “It seems whenever they talk about party unity, they always talk to the people on the left and never take ownership of party unity themselves,” he said. “So it’s about time the people who are in leadership, the people who are in power, also do some things that are unifying. They don’t seem to do that very often and a good chance to do that is at this convention.”

A number of progressive groups including NYPAN, Our Revolution, and Indivisible NY intend on holding a Tuesday presentation at the Marriott Hotel, where convention delegates will be holed up, on the DNC’s Unity Reform Commission report -- issued in the wake of the 2016 presidential election -- to try to convince committee members to support their proposals.

Nixon also indicated on Monday that she had invited state committee members to a conference call to discuss her candidacy as she hopes to earn support at the convention.

The state party’s Berman brushed aside any concerns about the future of the party and whether this election cycle will expose a deep rift between the various ideological factions within it. “The values and issues that unite us as a party far outweigh any disagreements folks may have,” he said, “and I’m very confident that coming out of the convention and going into the elections in the fall, we will be a strong unified party supporting a strong progressive ticket.”

Coads, the Long Island committee member, hoped and prayed for unity, holding up New York as an example to other states. “I’m positive about it and if we don’t, we’ll find a way to unify as we go forward,” she said.

Bellanca disagrees. “I think the war’s still going to be going on between the progressive, reform wing and the establishment that wants first class seats on the Titanic,” he said.

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

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Three Themes to Watch at State Democratic Convention Mon, 21 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7677:letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7677:letitia-james-launches-campaign-for-attorney-general tish ag kickoff in bk sara valenzuela

Public Advocate Letitia James at her AG campaign kickoff (photo: @saritamanhattan)


New York City Public Advocate Letitia James officially launched her campaign for attorney general on Wednesday, seeking to make history as the first woman of color to serve as the state’s top legal officer.

James, who is serving her second and final term as public advocate, and is the first woman of color elected to a citywide position, is running in the Democratic primary to replace former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who resigned last week after facing allegations of physical abuse from four women with whom he was intimately involved. The position is being held in the interim by Barbara Underwood, who was solicitor general under Schneiderman and his predecessor, now-Governor Andrew Cuomo, while the state Legislature is assessing a slate of candidates, including Underwood, from which they will select an appointee to serve the rest of the term.

The Democratic primary for attorney general and other state-level positions is September 13.

James was seen as the frontrunner for the position even before the Legislature began its selection process, but amid outcry for Underwood to keep the position and against any backroom deals, she declined to seek the appointment and decided instead to only compete in the election. From a dais at the Brooklyn Historical Society on Wednesday, flanked by labor leaders and several members of the New York City Council, where she once served, James spoke of the inspiration she draws from legal stalwarts like Barbara Jordan and Thurgood Marshall, and made the opening pitch her candidacy.

“I was taught at Howard University that the law should be an instrument of change,” James said in humble tones, “that the law must be used as a vehicle to right wrongs.” She pledged to defend the state’s most vulnerable communities, touting her past work as a public defender for the Legal Aid Society and an an assistant attorney general, and her current role heading the office of the public advocate, where she has often used litigation to fight for tenant protections, for children with disabilities, and others, waging high-profile legal battles against the de Blasio administration and against predatory landlords.

James promised to “never, ever waver in my fight to uphold and defend your basic rights,” vowing to oppose any harmful policies imposed by the federal government.

There are no other declared Democratic candidates for the fall election at this time. The state party will hold its nominating convention next week, at which James is expected to at least earn a place on the ballot, if not the party’s official backing. James has a strong base of support in New York City, including from the labor unions that immediately endorsed her and others likely to follow, but she will need to expand her reach outside the five boroughs to win statewide, both in the primary and what is likely to be a more competitive general election than she has ever faced in heavily Democratic New York City. She’ll also need to raise a significant sum of money quickly, which could be helped if she wins the backing of Cuomo, a prodigious fundraiser with deep ties to wealthy donors and seeking a third term this fall.

Although James said in her speech that she tends “not to be about politics,” the politics of the race were nonetheless inescapable. The New York Times reported earlier this week that James was telling supporters that Governor Andrew Cuomo and his allies were pushing her to refuse the nomination of the Working Families Party, a prominent smaller political party with a progressive base, or risk losing his support. The governor, who is known for his strong-arm tactics and has clashed with the WFP, which is backing his primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, denied making the overtures.

On Wednesday morning, James’ campaign indicated she will not seek the endorsement of the WFP, saying that she is focused on winning the Democratic nomination, though she has sought and earned both parties’ support in the past (James was first elected to office in 2003 as a City Council member solely on the WFP line). The declaration sparked a rebuke of Cuomo from the WFP.

“It is nothing short of outrageous to see Andrew Cuomo demand Tish James jump through hoops that he would never ask a white man to do,” four WFP leaders said in a statement that included further attacks on the governor, who had the WFP’s backing in his 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns.

Asked repeatedly by reporters about eschewing the WFP after her launch announcement, James said, “My focus has been on securing the Democratic nomination and I’ve been working from sunup to sundown securing that nomination.” She also denied that pressure from the governor had played a part in her decision not to seek the WFP’s backing. “I’m an independent individual, I’ve always been an independent individual, and if you know anything about me you can rest assured that no one's going to bully me, no one's going to threaten me and no one's going to hold anything over my head.”

The Democratic nominating convention will be held next week, while the WFP nominees are expected to be announced this weekend at its own convention. The party is already behind Nixon for governor and City Council Member Jumaane Williams for Lieutenant Governor. It is also backing Comptroller Tom DiNapoli for reelection.

Zephyr Teachout, a law professor who unsuccessfully challenged Cuomo in the Democratic primary four years ago, told Gotham Gazette on Wednesday that she is seeking the WFP nomination for attorney general and that she also plans to appear on the Democratic primary ballot for the position, a spot she will either earn through a vote at the convention next week or through collecting enough ballot petition signatures around the state. Teachout, who is not officially running for AG yet, is currently Nixon’s campaign treasurer, an arrangement that may change if she officially declares her candidacy for attorney general.

James’ announcement was backed by the forceful endorsements of three labor unions: the New York State Nurses Association, Communications Workers of America Local 1180; and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “Tish James listens to every voice and fights for those without a place at the table. She doesn’t preach. She acts,” said Gloria Middleton, president of CWA Local 1180.

Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito also showed her support to the public advocate, standing on stage along with current City Council Members Laurie Cumbo, Alicka Ampry-Samuel, Andrew King, Mark Levine, Robert Cornegy, and Justin Brannan.

“[James’] whole public experience has been about utilizing the law to really right wrongs and to create equity,” Mark-Viverito told Gotham Gazette. “So this particular time when we have such an affront to our democracy by the Trump administration, this attorney general position is critical in us pushing back.”

She said James would be a “standard bearer of equity and justice” and said it’s “way overdue” that a woman serves as attorney general. “I think it’s critical,” she said. “Gender does matter, and representation at all levels. We have a diverse state, a diverse city. So government needs to be truly reflective of those experiences and that reality.”

While James is the first to officially jump into the primary race and Teachout appears close, several other possible AG candidates are possible. Democratic State Senator Michael Gianaris has said he’s considering a run, as has Congressional Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, also a Democrat. Former United States Attorney Preet Bharara has not ruled it out when making public comments. While Bharara is a Democrat, Bloomberg News reported he may run for AG as an independent. The only declared Republican in the race is attorney Manny Alicandro, though others are said to be considering a run given Schneiderman’s resignation.

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by Samar Khurshid, City government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Ben Max contributed reporting.

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Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General Wed, 16 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Exploring Attorney General Run, Zephyr Teachout Pursues Working Families Nomination, Democratic Ballot Line http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7678:exploring-attorney-general-run-zephyr-teachout-pursues-working-families-nomination-democratic-ballot-line http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7678:exploring-attorney-general-run-zephyr-teachout-pursues-working-families-nomination-democratic-ballot-line zephyr teachout anti idc rally

Zephyr Teachout at an anti-IDC rally (photo: Ben Max)


The recent resignation of former Attorney General Eric Schneiderman sent shockwaves through the New York political world, and with just six months until New Yorkers elect a new attorney general in November, it sent potential candidates scrambling. Political party nominations are being decided, ballot spots must be secured, and party primaries are September 13.

Soon after Schneiderman’s departure amid accusations that he was physically abusive of four women he had been in romantic relationships with, according to reporting by The New Yorker, several individuals expressed interest in becoming attorney general.

One is Zephyr Teachout, the law professor who challenged Governor Andrew Cuomo from the left in the 2014 Democratic gubernatorial primary, who quickly said she was forming an exploratory committee. Among other moves, Teachout sent out e-blasts to her supporters asking if they want her to run and used her Twitter account to discuss her resume and the role of attorney general. Currently the campaign treasurer for Cuomo’s leading 2018 primary opponent, Cynthia Nixon, Teachout even had a logo mocked up for her potential attorney general run.

On Wednesday, Teachout told Gotham Gazette that she has submitted her name for consideration by the Working Families Party, which is holding its nominating convention this weekend in Manhattan, and that she will be pursuing enough support at next week’s State Democratic Party convention to secure a ballot line.

On the same day that New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, a Democrat, formally announced her candidacy for attorney general, Teachout also indicated that she’s prepared to collect enough petition signatures to compete in the Democratic primary if she does not meet the threshold at the party convention.

"I'll be making a decision fairly shortly," Teachout told Gotham Gazette about whether she will indeed seek the statewide office that is New York’s chief legal officer. "I'm grateful for the incredible response I've gotten from people I know from different aspects of my work: anti-corruption work, antitrust work, Trump work,” she said. “It's been really wonderful to get this kind of support."

"I submitted my name to be considered,” she said of the Working Families Party, which came close to backing her against Cuomo in 2014, but went with the governor after he agreed to a series of policy and political goals that he mostly did not follow through on. “I'm planning to be at the convention on Saturday," she added.

It is not clear who else is seeking the WFP nomination for attorney general -- a spokesperson for the party did not respond to an inquiry for the list.

"I plan to seek the Democratic Party threshold to get on the ballot, and I'll be at the convention next week,” Teachout also said. “One of the most important things that I think can bring Democrats together is that the next AG can lead the fight against the Trump administration's lawlessness."

As Teachout has pointed out, her past and current work is suited toward continuing some of the attorney general office’s most high-profile litigation against the Trump administration, something Schneiderman had made a top priority and is being continued by interim Attorney General Barbara Underwood, formerly solicitor general, who is seeking a legislative appointment to stay in the role through at least Election Day, if not the end of the year, but is not planning to run for election.

When announcing her exploratory committee on Twitter, Teachout said, “The next Attorney General of New York should be an independent fighter and a voice for the people, ready to take on corruption and lawlessness at the highest pinnacles of power” and “ready to investigate corruption in Albany, in real estate, and on Wall Street.”

She touted resume items such as “writing about and fighting corruption my entire career,” working as a death penalty defense lawyer, pushing for stronger antitrust enforcement and prosecution of financial crimes, being “the first national director of the Sunlight Foundation,” and her work as a professor at Fordham Law School.

Teachout has received public support from a number of progressives with significant followings or resumes, including Professor Laurence Tribe, and several liberal New York activists. 

“I have a great exploratory team--Tim Tagaris and Hector Sigala from Bernie's digital juggernaut, BrownMiller Group; ALG Research; Putnam Partners (whose past clients include Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Kamala Harris' AG race),” she tweeted.

Notably, BrownMiller is the firm that in 2013 “ran the petition drive that placed Eliot Spitzer on the ballot with over 27,000 signatures in just four days,” as its website states of the blitz that got the former governor on the Democratic primary ballot for the city comptroller race. That type of work would come in handy if Teachout needs to go the petition route to make the Democratic primary ballot again the state party nominee, which at this point is likely to be James, and possibly others.

The public advocate, whose first win of elected office was on the Working Families Party line in a 2003 City Council race, has indicated that she is not seeking the WFP nomination, apparently siding with Cuomo after the governor’s recent split with the party as it endorsed Nixon for governor after backing Cuomo in his 2010 and 2014 wins.

After her campaign kickoff event in Brooklyn on Wednesday, James declined to answer with specificity why she had made that choice, instead repeatedly stating that she is focused on winning the Democratic nomination. She did say that she is independent and not one to be bullied, though she did not explicitly state that Cuomo had not factored into the decision in some way.

Four leaders of the WFP put out a statement Wednesday morning accusing Cuomo of essentially forcing James to choose him and the Democratic Party apparatus that he controls over the WFP, even assigning racial and gender components to the alleged arm-twisting. The Cuomo campaign shot back in reciprocal fashion.

If Cuomo does support James’ candidacy, she will have significant advantages as she seeks to become the first woman of color elected New York attorney general. James has a solid base of support in New York City and the likely backing of many labor unions, three of which endorsed her at her launch, but she has never been a strong fund-raiser and is not well-known outside of the city.

Teachout, meanwhile, has some degree of name recognition and support outside the city after her 2014 gubernatorial run -- when she won 34 percent of the primary vote against Cuomo, largely by doing well upstate -- and her 2016 congressional run in the Hudson Valley, which she lost to Rep. John Faso, 54-46 percent.

As for her role with the Nixon campaign, Teachout did not directly answer on Wednesday whether she would step down as treasurer if she does formally throw her hat in the attorney general race. "I've been very clear about my support for Cynthia Nixon, but if she's governor and I'm attorney general, if there's anything within the AG's purview, even a whiff of corruption, I would pursue it,” Teachout said. “I'm a very independent person." But on Friday morning, Teachout told Gotham Gazette that she will indeed step down as Nixon campaign treasurer as she pursues an attorney general run.

[Related: Letitia James Launches Campaign for Attorney General]

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by Ben Max, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this story has been updated with Teachout's decision on Friday to step down from the Nixon campaign as she explores an AG bid.

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Exploring Attorney General Run, Zephyr Teachout Pursues Working Families Nomination, Democratic Ballot Line Wed, 16 May 2018 04:00:00 +0000
Vance Fallout Echoes Other Controversies that Led to Reforms http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7265:vance-fallout-echoes-other-controversies-that-led-to-reforms http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7265:vance-fallout-echoes-other-controversies-that-led-to-reforms comptroller dinapoli with check nyscomptroller

Comptroller Tom DiNapoli (@NYSComptroller)


As the office and campaign of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance reexamine internal policies regarding the acceptance of campaign contributions, they may want to reference the guidebook of the office of the State Comptroller or Attorney General, both of which have implemented their own donor-vetting systems and guidelines in the wake of controversies involving fundraising practices. These checks far exceed what is required by lax and porous state campaign finance laws.

District Attorney Vance, facing immense pressure over his handling of a sexual misconduct case against disgraced producer Harvey Weinstein and of a fraud investigation into Donald Trump, Jr. and Ivanka Trump, announced Sunday in a New York Daily News op-ed that he had enlisted the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity (CAPI) at Columbia Law School to review and recommend restrictions on his campaign finance practices, especially with regard to contributions from defense lawyers with business before the district attorney’s office.

In the column, Vance said he hoped that CAPI would “recommend that we go well beyond what is currently required by laws that govern contributions to district attorneys in our state,” adding that “this is one of the first reviews of its kind ever undertaken in the realm of prosecutors’ offices, and the firestorm we have experienced over the past week presents an opportunity for real reform.”

The response to reports that Vance had accepted large campaign contributions from lawyers affiliated with the Trumps and Weinstein, before and after each case was closed, recalls another flare up involving Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, during his $40 million lawsuit against Trump University, which started in 2011 and spanned about six years, though the office does abide by internally enforced campaign finance guidelines.

Schneiderman’s office came under scrutiny for his campaign’s acceptance and alleged solicitation of funds from members of the Trump family while engaged in litigation against the university, which was widely seen as a scam. Trump has given $12,500 to help get Schneiderman elected as attorney general, and Ivanka Trump reportedly gave $500 to Schneiderman’s campaign in 2012. Trump aides claimed the mogul was told Schneiderman’s campaign solicited contributions from Ivanka offering to make the “very weak” ongoing investigation “go away,” and filed a complaint with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), though the ethics advisory organization decided not pursue the case.

It would not be not the first time Trump was accused of attempting to buy his way out of the legal mess surrounding Trump University. In 2013, Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi, who was up for reelection, reportedly solicited Trump for donations while acknowledging that she was considering joining Schneiderman in his Trump University suit, but decided not to pursue the case after the mogul made a $25,000 donation to an organization, called And Justice for All, that was backing her campaign. Trump was fined by the Internal Revenue Service, not for the obvious pay-to-play element -- which is legal -- but for making the political contribution from his foundation rather than his personal bank account.

Trump settled the Trump University suit, including paying $25 million to individuals who had enrolled in the school, and Schneiderman has continued to pursue cases against Trump, a fact that his representatives cite as evidence that the attorney general is not influenced by donors to his campaign.

Even prior to his ongoing battles with Trump, Schneiderman adhered to the policies of his two most recent predecessors by refusing to accept contributions from individuals or entities who have a matter before the office or have had such within the prior 90 days, according to a spokesperson for his office.

Furthermore, “every contributor who is personally solicited is subject to an extensive vetting process, and the office has both returned and refused to accept contributions from individuals and attorneys who have had matters before this office,” said Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for the attorney general, in a statement.

The policy was tweaked after JCOPE put out an advisory opinion last year expanding this ban to one year for matters in which the attorney general was personally and substantially involved or for contributions that were personally solicited.

The ethics advisory commission, which has jurisdiction over state officials and lobbyists, also ruled that directly soliciting and knowingly accepting contributions from the active subject of investigations and enforcement proceedings violates Public Officers Law 74. Other conduct, such as directly soliciting from an attorney that is appearing before the office, would be evaluated on a case-by-case basis, according to JCOPE spokesperson Walter McClure.

County-level prosecutors like district attorneys, of which there are 62 across the state, are not under the purview of JCOPE. The city’s Conflict of Interest Board does not deal with conflicts related to campaign finance, and neither the city’s Campaign Finance Board nor the state’s Office of Court Administration, which supervises the conduct of judicial candidates, have power over district attorneys, leaving these law enforcement officials a rare level of latitude and impunity.

The massive pay-to-play scandal involving former State Comptroller Alan Hevesi similarly resulted in self-imposed reforms for that office. In 2011, Hevesi -- who had resigned four years earlier as part of a plea bargain for an unrelated scandal -- admitted to accepting $1 million in gifts for himself and friends in exchange for offering "preferential treatment" and $250 million in state pension investments to Markstone Capital, which was owned by Elliott Broidy. Broidy, in turn, gave $500,000 to Hevesi’s reelection campaign.

Following his election in 2007, Comptroller Tom DiNapoli enacted a series of reforms, including an executive order and interim policy that banned pay-to-play practices, which went into effect in 2009.

The order prohibited the state pension fund from doing business with any investment adviser who made a political contribution to the state comptroller or a candidate for state comptroller, and applied for two years from the date of the contribution. The regulations were put in place ahead of 2010 rules issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which they closely parallel.

“The point was to ban the practice without waiting for the SEC rule, which was then in the proposal stage. The SEC rule went into force in 2011, at which point it became the law of the land and superseded or obviated the Comptroller's executive order,” said DiNapoli spokesperson Matthew Sweeney.

Recommendations from the CAPI review of Vance’s practices are due in January. Meanwhile, at least two Democratic Assembly members have proposed bills that would significantly curb contributions to district attorneys.

One bill was sponsored by Assemblymember Tom Abinanti in February and calls for publicly-financed elections of district attorneys and State Supreme Court justices. It has a handful of co-sponsors, but it never went anywhere.

"As an attorney, I've always been troubled by a system where judges are elected on the basis of money of people who appear before them,” said Abinanti, who represents Greenburgh and Mount Pleasant. “It's just unseemly.”

More importantly, Abinanti said, for prosecutors, who are law enforcement officials, publicly-finance elections would enable them to more honestly express their views on issues like drug policy, immigration, and bail reform, at pre-election forums and debates.

The issue arose in the recent Democratic primary for Brooklyn District Attorney, when Acting District Attorney Eric Gonzalez was criticized for accepting money from the bail bond industry.

Another piece of legislation, expected to be introduced in January by Assemblymember Dan Quart of Manhattan, would compile a statewide database of criminal defense attorneys and firms and steeply reduces the amount these individuals and entities can contribute to a district attorney candidate's campaign (up to $320 per election cycle). It also would prevent the bundling of donations to district attorney candidates.

“It would create greater transparency and limit the influence of criminal defense attorneys,” said Quart, who noted that the system was based on the “NYC Doing Business” database. Entities listed on the database are greatly restricted by the city’s campaign finance system in what campaign donations they can give to candidates for city offices.

Though the New York State Assembly’s Democratic majority conference convened for several hours on Tuesday in Albany, a legislative response to questions raised by the Vance controversy was not discussed, according to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie.

“I understand where people are coming from,” said Heastie of the public outrage. “We didn’t get a chance to talk about that, I don’t want to just make a decision without talking to members of our conference, but we are always open to election reforms that will give the confidence to our constituents that there are no inherent conflicts.”

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by Rachel Silberstein, State government reporter, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

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Vance Fallout Echoes Other Controversies that Led to Reforms Thu, 19 Oct 2017 04:00:00 +0000
New York's Top Democrats Rally Against Obamacare Repeal Bill http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7069:cuomo-and-schneiderman-pledge-lawsuit-against-obamacare-repeal-bill http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7069:cuomo-and-schneiderman-pledge-lawsuit-against-obamacare-repeal-bill 35598816530 8312988792 z

Governor Cuomo at Monday's healthcare rally (photo: Governor's Office)


At a packed auditorium at Mount Sinai Hospital Monday afternoon, four of the state’s top elected Democrats united in a show of force to rally against a common enemy: the Republican-led U.S. Senate’s bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare.

Governor Andrew Cuomo, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio banded together on Monday, pledging to take legal action should the Senate pass the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the bill that would replace former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation. The Senate proposal would slash federal Medicaid funding, curtail the program’s expansion, and eliminate tax credits for individuals to purchase insurance on the open market, among other things.

(Although a procedural vote on the bill was meant to be delayed until after the return of Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who is recovering from surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye, the bill seemed dead on arrival when two more Republican Senators said Monday night that they would oppose it.)

“We're going to pay three times more to take care of the people in the emergency rooms than we would have paid if we'd actually given them healthcare,” said Cuomo of the Senate proposal, kicking off the rally.

Schneiderman, following Cuomo’s lead, promised that if the BCRA passed, “I will go to court to challenge it. I will sue the Trump administration.”

[Related: Focused on Fighting Trump, is Schneiderman Looking Away from Albany Reform?]

Cuomo blamed a rising “ultraconservative ideology” in Washington D.C. for ensuring that Senate Republicans were “not talking about changing health care for all americans, they're talking about changing healthcare for poor americans.” He reserved particular derision for the Faso-Collins amendment, an addition to the Senate bill from upstate GOP Reps. John Faso and Chris Collins that would move Medicaid costs from the counties to the state, calling it an “old-fashioned con game.”

The amendment, which Faso and Collins hope will reduce local property taxes, would explicitly only apply in the state of New York and has not been a focus of the national conversation around the Congress’ attempts to overturn Obamacare. But it has become a central flashpoint in New York as state officials balk at a provision that would cut $2.3 billion in federal funding if the state fails to pick up the Medicaid tab. Schneiderman, who called the whole bill “unconstitutional,” went so far as to single out that provision and referred to Collins and Faso as “two people who supposedly represent New York.”

Mayor de Blasio made no mention of the amendment, but instead focused on the unity displayed by elected officials, labor, and business. The mayor himself has repeatedly butted heads with the governor in the past and has seldom been seen at public events with him. The mayor said that the majority of Americans rejected the healthcare bill, and “what's happening in the USA today is spitting in the face of that majority.” On Monday, the mayor urged New Yorkers to spread the message across the country, telling their friends to call their senators. “We all know where those swing votes are,” he said.

The four Democrats also warned of threats to state hospitals should the Republican bill pass, with Heastie asserting that New York has the “greatest healthcare delivery system in the nation, and to punish us because we deliver the best healthcare is unconscionable.”

He echoed the governor, who had raised the spectre of “bankrupt hospitals” and 1.2 million healthcare jobs being jeopardized in the state. “It means 20 percent of the state economy that is healthcare would be devastated if these cuts went through,” Cuomo said.

Monday’s rally was purportedly the launch of a renewed push to defeat the unpopular Senate bill, which already seems to be on its last legs. Schneiderman called the effort a coalition that would be led by the governor over the coming weeks with the intent of “sending this disgusting, anti-health bill on a one-way trip to the trash heap of history.”

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by Felipe De La Hoz, Gotham Gazette
     

Read more by this writer.

Note: this article has been updated. 

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New York's Top Democrats Rally Against Obamacare Repeal Bill Tue, 18 Jul 2017 01:15:06 +0000
Focused on Fighting Trump, is Schneiderman Looking Away from Albany Reform? http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7035:focused-on-fighting-trump-schneiderman-looks-away-from-albany-reform http://www.gothamgazette.com/?id=7035:focused-on-fighting-trump-schneiderman-looks-away-from-albany-reform ag schneiderman via schneiderman

AG Eric Schneiderman (photo: @Schneiderman)


New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has quickly become one of President Donald Trump’s leading opponents, using the levers of his office to litigate against Trump’s policies, and has put New York at the forefront of efforts to resist the new Republican administration’s agenda.

Speaking at a Tuesday breakfast event hosted by the Association For A Better New York (ABNY), Schneiderman, a second-term Democrat, discussed his role in the Trump era, which has made his focus much more on Washington, D.C. than Albany, New York, the state capital where Schneiderman has worked as a state senator and sought reforms to the state’s election and government ethics laws.

The focus of the ABNY event Tuesday morning was Schneiderman’s approach to Trump. The attorney general emphasized New York’s fundamental principle of openness and reiterated his pledge to fight President Trump’s travel ban on people from six Muslim-majority countries. “New York values of mutual respect, pluralism, and common sense are more important than ever,” he said to a room of around 250 people at the Sheraton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan. “As long as I am your Attorney General, I promise to do everything I can to stand up for those values and defend all the people I represent  in the challenges we face together.”

He also described his approach toward the legislation that seeks to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which may soon receive a vote in the U.S. Senate. “If the version of the health care bill proposed last week ever becomes law, I’ve promised to go to court to challenge it – and protect New Yorkers from these wrongheaded and unconstitutional provisions,” he said.

In a lighthearted moment, Schneiderman described the experience of quarreling with Trump over the years, even before Trump ran for President. In 2013, Schneiderman filed suit against the real estate mogul for his fraudulent for-profit college Trump University. The president settled in 2016 for $25 million.

Schneiderman noted he has learned to ignore Twitter, a favored Trump medium that the president has long-used to attack Schneiderman and others, and how Trump consistently pulls out all the stops against people when he feels threatened by them. Schneiderman read aloud a few insulting tweets that Trump has sent about him over the years. The attorney general also recalled when the New York Observer, owned by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, published a cover depicting Schneiderman as “Clockwork Eric,” likening him to the 1971 movie “A Clockwork Orange” character Alex DeLarge, who is a violent rapist. The paper published an accompanying feature on Schneiderman that accused him of “political opportunism,” “vindictiveness,” and cast doubt on his investigation into Trump.

When he did mention more local state affairs, Schneiderman cited passage of legislation to end the so-called gun show loophole and development of a drug tracking system, along with changing his office’s mentality. “Consistent with my goal of keeping New York competitive, we have shifted the culture of our office by making it clear that lawyers on my team don’t just get credit for catching bad guys; they also get credit for helping good guys,” said Schneiderman, who succeeded Governor Andrew Cuomo as attorney general.

State government was a distant second to national matters as they relate to New York, in keeping with the event’s intended purpose. The media advisory announcing the event stated Schneiderman was expected to “discuss his work fighting Trump Administration policies that he believes threaten New Yorkers and the rule of law. Attorney General Schneiderman will detail his office’s efforts on both fronts and articulate his priorities for the future in the fight to defend New York.”

While it made sense for Schneiderman to omit state government ethics and voting reform from his remarks, the attorney general was holding his first public speaking event since the end of the scheduled legislative session in Albany, which included none of the reforms Schneiderman has proposed. Tuesday’s event was representative of a shift in focus by Schneiderman away from state reforms and toward taking on federal government policies with the aim of fighting for New Yorkers against a new presidential administration and Republican-controlled Congress. 

A spokesperson for Attorney General Schneiderman disputed this observation. “He can walk and chew gum at the same time, and that’s exactly what he’s been doing,” wrote Amy Spitalnick, the Schneiderman spokesperson, in an email to Gotham Gazette. But, while Schneiderman does oversee a large and busy office, the attorney general has been quiet regarding state reforms in recent months as major decisions are made in the state capital. Schneiderman's office explained that representatives from the AG's office have met with legislative leaders, relevant committee chairs, and advocates about Schneiderman's proposals.

A review of Schneiderman’s May and June press releases show that as the legislative year in Albany headed toward underwhelmingly conclusion, the attorney general spoke out against President Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accords; filed suit against Trump regarding energy efficiency standards; challenged the EPA on toxic pesticides; criticized Secretary of Education Betsy Devos over discontinuing student loan forgiveness policies; announced opposition to potential regulatory rollback in Senate legislation; voiced concern over infringement upon New Yorker’s contraceptive rights by Trump administration policies; and reaffirmed New York’s commitment to protecting so-called sanctuary city statuses; along with other pushbacks against policies originating in Washington.

Schneiderman’s main public efforts have been to, as he sees it, protect New Yorkers from the new president’s policies, many of which he believes threaten New Yorkers rights and needed services. Schneiderman was the subject of profiles in major outlets such as Politico and New York Magazine, both focused on his efforts against Trump. Meanwhile, Schneiderman hired Revolution Messaging, Senator Bernie Sanders’ digital consulting group in April , to work on his political team -- the AG is expected to seek a third term in 2018, but is also regarded as a certain gubernatorial candidate when Cuomo is no longer in the picture.

But the attorney general’s office insists that Schneiderman has been attentive to Albany-related efforts. “Anyone who follows the AG’s work knows he’s been very engaged in the fight for voting and ethics reform, including proposing his own legislative packages on both issues,” the Spitalnick wrote. “That’s in addition to his push to strengthen tenant protections, protect cost-free access to birth control, and more.”

While he has been quiet on both recently, Schneiderman has pushed election and government ethics reforms. In February, he introduced the New York Votes Act, a bill that would institute automatic and same-day voting registration along with early voting. On ethics reform for the scandal-plagued state government, in May 2015 Schneiderman introduced legislation that would give investigatory powers to the attorney general to prosecute corruption by officeholders, ban lawmakers from receiving outside income, and make campaign donation laws more restrictive. None of Schneiderman’s proposals on these two fronts have made it into law, opposed at various turns by the powers that be in Albany, including Governor Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic majority in the Assembly, and the Republican-led majority in the Senate.

Asked for recent examples of how Schneiderman has pushed his electoral and ethics proposals, or for any plans to get them moving, the AG’s office pointed to examples in the more distant past. Schneiderman does not appear to have held a public event, issued a press release, or written an op-ed on either voting or ethics reform since February, when he released his electoral reform package. The state budget was passed in early April and the scheduled legislative session ended last week, both without any of these reforms.

Speaking with reporters following his Tuesday ABNY speech, the attorney general said the legislative session ending without ethics reform was a missed opportunity. “I think that it is essential that the state government show an ability to, and a willingness to, reform,” he said in response to a question from Gotham Gazette. “Otherwise, we're just going to have more scandals and a further erosion of public confidence.”

“The willingness to get it done is there and I think there is an unfortunate tendency to cling to the status quo,” he added, though he did not cite evidence of the existence of any “willingness” and his spokesperson did not explain what he meant when asked in a follow-up email.

Corruption has plagued New York’s capital for years, with legislator after legislator removed from office because of ethical scandal. Recently, former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos were convicted separately on public corruption charges. Not long after that, charges were announced against nine associates of and donors to Gov. Cuomo in a massive alleged bid-rigging scandal. In September 2016, Schneiderman’s office brought charges against two former Cuomo aides along with state official Alain Kaloyeros as part of that scandal. In March, Schneiderman’s office also charged state Senator Robert Ortt and former state Senator George Maziarz for embezzling funds, though the charges against Ortt were dismissed by a judge on Tuesday.

Despite months of inaction on election and ethics reforms in Albany, Schneiderman said Tuesday he is hopeful. “I do really believe that we are at a point where the public is demanding reform and there are enough legislators who get the need and are willing to get a step towards it,” he said in the gaggle. “So I think that's something which should be coming.”

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Focused on Fighting Trump, is Schneiderman Looking Away from Albany Reform? Tue, 27 Jun 2017 04:00:00 +0000