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Posts by Liz Benjamin
May 7th - 6:56 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.
The Buffalo School Board elections are today. These races will be closely watched, thanks largely to Carl Paladino’s candidacy. (Edited).
From 8 a.m. to noon, City & State hosts its State of the State conference, Taste Albany, 45 Beaver St., Albany.
At 10 a.m., LG Bob Duffy will be in Buffalo to make an announcement about the “Buffalo Billion” and unveil a new ad campaign. Burchfield Penney Arts Center, Buffalo State College, 1300 Elmwood Ave., Buffalo.
At 10:15 a.m., NYPIRG releases a report showing 103,805 violations of state campaign finance laws since 2011, LCA Press Room, Room 130, Legislative Office Building, 181 State St., Albany.
At 10:30 a.m., Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. endorses Bill Thompson for NYC mayor, City Hall steps, Manhattan.
At noon, Duffy will be at the Riverside Convention Center in his hometown of Rochester to deliver remarks at the Rochester Rotary Law Day program. 123 E. Main St.
At 11 a.m., there will be a hearing in federal court on the Obama administration’s motion to stay order of the Plan-B decision. U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, 225 Cadman Plaza East, Courtroom 8A S, Brooklyn.
Also at 11 a.m., the Senate Republicans are holding an invite-only hearing on “abuses” in NYC’s public campaign finance system. Room 124, state Capitol, Albany.
With only 20 days left in the 2013 legislative session, the New York State DREAM Coalition is increasing its presence in Albany to finally pave a path to higher education for undocumented students. At 1 p.m., the group holds a press conference with supportive lawmakers, Room 130, LOB.
NOW-NYC, in partnership with Pace University, will host back-to-back forums featuring candidates for mayor at 7 p.m. Joyce Purnick, author of “Mike Bloomberg: Money, Power and Politics,” will moderate. One Pace Plaza, Manhattan.
NJ Gov. Chris Christie secretly underwent lap-band surgery and has already lost about 40 pounds. He says it was for his wife and kids, not his political career.
With the arrest of another former state Senate majority leader, John Sampson, Albany has seen 32 state level officials snared in corruption cases in the past seven years.
Tom Precious believes Sampson’s alleged embezzlement of nearly $500,000 to help fund his campaign to be the top law enforcement official in Brooklyn “could be a first” and is “bizarre” – even by Albany standards.
Sampson pleaded not guilty, but has one month to decide whether to take the following plea agreement: Accept a sentence of 37 to 46 months by pleading to embezzlement and one other charge.
If he doesn’t take the plea deal, Sampson faces up to 120 years behind bars.
May 6th - 5:12 pm
AG Eric Schneiderman will sue Bank of America and Wells Fargo for violating the National Mortgage Settlement reached last year.
Tom Precious recalls John Sampson‘s heyday: “Soft-spoken, the large, muscular Sampson held a regular workout routine in a legislative gym located across the street from the Capitol.”
Brooklyn DA candidate Ken Thompson used the Sampson scandal to slam his primary target, DA Joe Hynes, though the charges against Sampson stem from his ’05 challenge to Hynes, which complicates things. (More here).
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said his Women’s Equality Act, which he hasn’t yet formally introduced, will be “the most comprehensive women’s equality agenda that’s ever been done.”
Ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner isn’t a candidate for mayor yet, but he’s already drawing demonstrators.
Jason Collins, the pro basketball player who outed himself as gay, will appear alongside First Lady Michelle Obama at a New York fundraiser for the DNC on May 29.
The Senate approved Cuomo’s high court nominee, Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam, after several legislators praised her experience and qualifications.
A bill to require businesses to give their workers paid sick days passed a City Council committee today and will go before the full Council for a vote Wednesday.
A report from the Empire Center for New York State Policy found counties sitting in the Marcellus Shale could see their per-capita income increase by 15 percent by 2015 if the state gives fracking the go-ahead.
Former Assemblyman Ryan Karben describes Cuomo as a “maestro” of political music.
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin was the guest of Marylou Whitney at this weekend’s Kentucky Derby, and bet on a horse called “Frac Daddy.”
Democratic NYC mayoral hopeful Bill Thompson did some hiring.
GOP NYC mayoral hopeful Joe Lhota won’t ever wear a dress at the Inner Circle show like his former boss, Rudy Giuliani.
A Cuomo sister clarifies another sibiling’s pro-Hillary 2016 Tweet, insisting the family is “all in Andrew’s corner” should he chose to run for president.
Cuomo gave a group of fourth graders visiting the Capitol an impromptu history lesson in the Hall of Governors.
“New York, I didn’t come here for ice cream or cafe latte or bike lanes. New York, you’ve lost your soul.”
Hendrick Hertzberg on why President Obama should move to legalize pot.
Even former President Clinton didn’t have the juice to get Led Zeppelin back together.
May 6th - 12:56 pm
Seeking to really drive home the message that campaign finance reform is neither a Republican nor Democrat issue, the New York Friends of Democracy commissioned a poll jointly conducted by two consulting firms – one best known for repping Democratic clients, including, at one time, Gov. Andrew Cuomo; the other better known for its GOP clients.
The survey conducted by Global Stratey Group (Democrat) and Mercuy Public Affairs (Republican) found strong, across-the-board support for reforming the state’s campaign finance system and revealed that seven in 10 voters believe that to do so would reduce the influence of money in politics and also help end corruption in state government.
Founders of each firm participated in a brief conference call with reporters this afternoon to review the numbers: Global’s Jefrey Pollock (perhaps best known for his cameo appearance in “The Place Beyond the Pines” and also for serving as a longtime consultant to former AG/Gov. Eliot Spitzer) and Mercury’s Kieran Mahoney (who was once part of ex-Gov. George Pataki’s political braintrust).
Mahoney noted that upstaters appear to be paying even more attention to the issue of campaign finance reform and public corruption that residents in NYC and the suburbans, adding: “This is a state that’s fed up with corruption, and a state that believes campaign finance reform is the best method to address that corruption.”
UPDATE: A savvy reader reminds me that Mercury’s Mike McKeon headed up Republicans for Cuomo in the 2010 campaign and also served (or is it serves, assuming this thing is still a going concern) as the spokesman for the pro-Cuomo and business-backed Committee to Save New York. So, there’s definitely some cross-pollination going on there.
May 6th - 12:21 pm
ICYMI, this was today’s morning memo:
Et Tu, Shirley?
Since the revelation that former Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro had been working as a double agent for federal prosecutors for almost the entire duration of his four years in office, the most popular political parlor game in Albany has been trying to guess who else might be wearing a wire.
Queens Assemblyman David Weprin even joked to the New York Times that it had become de rigueur upon meeting colleagues to “feel them up and down” – in a joking sort of way, of course.
Little did he know.
Last week, we learned Castro was not alone in his undercover activities. Former state Sen. Shirley Huntley, also of Queens, had also been working for the feds after discovering she would be slapped with corruption charges.
It looks like prosecutors hit pay dirt with Huntley – netting a much bigger fish than the one Castro managed to reel in (freshman Assemblyman Eric Stevenson, who is scheduled to be indicted in federal court today).
Former Minority Leader John Sampson turned himself in this morning to the FBI to face corruption charges in connection with a bribery deal that also involved Huntley and his own embezzlement of some $440,000 from the foreclosure sales of four Brooklyn properties for which he was the court-appointed referee.
Court documents reveal that Huntley, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in January, recorded meetings with nine different people, seven of whom were elected officials and two others who had previously worked as a consultant or staff member to a public official.
It turns out that Sampson is the lawmaker identified in those documents as “Senator #1,” who sought help from Huntley for a businessman who was offering bribes in exchange for help to expand his business at Kennedy International Airport, which is in Huntley’s district.
Sampson set up a meeting between Huntley and the businessman, and Huntley subsequently contacted airport authorities on his behalf over the next two months, receiving $1,000 for her efforts. The money was ill spent, however, because despite the bribe, the businessman did not receive a lease for additional space from the Port Authority.
This is not the only incident involving Sampson that has caught the interest of federal investigators. They’re also reportedly looking into the Brooklyn Democrat’s relationship with Edul Ahmad, a Queens real estate broker whom Sampson represented as a client through his legal practice.
Ahmad pleaded guilty in federal court in October to a mortgage fraud scheme and has been the focus of a loan scandal involving Queens Rep. Gregory Meeks.
It’s ironic that Huntley is the one to take Sampson down. Back in 2010, he defended her against LGBT advocates who were furious that he agreed to support her and other Democrats who voted “no” on the gay marriage bill.
At the time, Huntley was facing a primary challenge from gay-marriage supporter Lynn Nunes. Sampson gave Huntley $9,500 from his own campaign cash and tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York’s largest LGBT organization, from endorsing Nunes.
Nunes was not successful at ousting Huntley in the September primary. She won roughly 70 percent of the vote in that race.
Unlike with Castro, whom the feds allowed to stand for election three times, knowing all the while he was 1) a crook, and 2) splitting his time between representing his constituents and trying to catch fellow crooked colleagues in the act; Huntley only ran for re-election once, and was defeated in a primary by former NYC Councilman-turned-Sen. James Sanders.
It’s unclear if there will be more charges stemming from Huntley’s work on behalf of the US attorney’s office, but most observers agree this is just the tip of the iceberg.
It’s certainly bad news for the Senate Democrats, who have been trying to argue since last year’s elections that they are no longer the dysfunctional and trouble-ridden conference of the past.
And it’s especially bad news for those who are close to Sampson and might have something to hide. Sen. Malcolm Smith, the Queens Democrat who replaced Sampson as conference leader during the infamous 2009 coup, is battling his own corruption charges.
But there are one or two others – elected officials and former Senate staffers – who must be pretty darn concerned these days.
May 6th - 6:40 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in New York City and Albany.
At 8:30 a.m., he’ll deliver remarks at the Eleanor Roosevelt Legacy Committee Spring Breakfast in the ballroom of the The Yale Club of New York City, 50 Vanderbilt Ave., Manhattan.
At 10:15 a.m, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara; John Morton, the director of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency and Mongolian officials mark the return of a 70 million-year-old dinosaur skeleton to Mongolia, which had been smuggled into the U.S.; Manhattan Room, second floor, One U.N. New York hotel, One U.N. Plaza, First Avenue and 44th St., Manhattan.
At 11 a.m., The executive director of the Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Jeffrey Reynolds, Sen. Charles Schumer, health care professionals and parents introduce a campaign to reduce abuse of prescription painkillers; suite 2309, North Shore-Long Island Jewish Health System’s Zucker Hillside Hospital, 75-59 263rd St., Queens.
Also at 11 a.m., Bronx BP Ruben Diaz Jr. marks the start of “Bronx Week 2013″ during a news conference featuring a performance by Latin jazz group Yuka Seka and samples from local bakeries, breweries, restaurants and vendors; Veterans’ Memorial Hall, Bronx County Building, 851 Grand Concourse, Bronx.
At 1 p.m., Sen. Terry Gipson and Assemblyman Frank Skartados introduce Rosie’s Law involving allowing a witness to testify with a facility dog, State Capitol steps, Albany.
At 1:30 p.m., AG Eric Schneiderman discusses new legal actions against major financial firms related to housing; 25th floor, 120 Broadway, Manhattan.
At 2 p.m., Assemblyman Eric Stevenson will be indicted on federal corruption charges, U.S. District Court, 500 Pearl St., Manhattan.
State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli will address state firefighters gathering for their annual lobby day. 3 p.m., Albany Hilton, 40 Lodge St.
At 7 p.m., the Costume Institute’s annual “The Met Gala” benefit takes place, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 100 Fifth Ave., Manhattan.
At at 7 p.m., Rochester Mayor Tom Richards will deliver his annual State of the City address at Rochester’s School of the Arts, 45 Prince St.
The Clinton Global Initiative’s mid-year meeting takes place today at the Sheraton New York, 811 Seventh Ave., between West 52nd and West 53rd Streets, Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg speaks about mobilizing reinvestment in cities at 3 p.m.
Bloomberg will also meet with Miguel Angel Mancera, mayor of Mexico City, at City Hall in Lower Manhattan at 10 a.m.
The state Senate is in session at 3 p.m., and is expected to vote to confirm Cuomo’s latest Court of Appeals nominee, state Supreme Court Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam.
Sen. Neil Breslin and Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins will welcome members of the progressive Reform Jewish Voice of New York to the Capitol as they push for the Women’s Equality Agenda and campaign finance reform.
The US Senate is expected to vote on legislation today that will require online retailers to collect sales taxes and send it to the government in the state where the buyer lives.
Embattled Sen. John Sampson, a Brooklyn Democrat, is set to turn himself in to authorities today after being ensnared in a bribery scandal involving his former colleague, ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley.
A “high-level official” says Cuomo is “floundering around” and trying to get his poll numbers up as corruption cases mount in Albany.
Cuomo reiterated his end-of-session “to do” list, which is topped by the Women’s Equality Act that he says should be passed as a “single, vital piece of legislation.”
As the Legislature heads into its final months of the session, the state Democratic party is set to spend more than $1 million on TV ad campaigns designed to promote and execute two central planks of his agenda: The Women’s Equality Act and anti-corruption proposals.
May 5th - 7:43 pm
Sen. John Sampson, once among Albany’s most powerful politicians, is reportedly the senator identified in court papers as asking ex-Sen. Shirley Huntley, to wield her influence on behalf of a businessman holding a JFK lease in March 2012. Charges are expected against him this week.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo showed up in jeans to try his hand at building picnic tables at Yorktown Heights’ Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park to mark the second annual I Love My Park event. (Official photos here).
Bill and Hillary Clinton, in a rare visit to Arkansas as a couple, attended the formal dedication of the $67 million terminal renovation at the state’s largest airport, which is now named in their honor.
The last refuge for public figures who have fallen from grace: College professorships.
Casino opponents are hoping to capitalize on a mid-level appeals court ruling that individual towns can ban fracking within their borders.
The dispute at the Peace Bridge Authority pitting Cuomo against a determined Canadian contingent is escalating into an international incident at what is supposed to be the world’s most peaceful border.
Assemblyman Pete Lopez’s home in the Village of Schoharie was burglarized.
Twenty-five lawmakers this year are receiving an increase in pay, thanks to lulus. Seven are receiving less, and the rest of the 213 members of the Legislature are getting the same pay as last year.
Republicans in the State Senate plan to hold hearings next Tuesday on what they say are abuses in New York City’s public campaign finance system.
The DN says it would be a “national disgrace” for the 9/11 museum to charge admission.
Former New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson does not think VP Joe Biden would “defer” to Hillary Clinton if she runs in 2016.
Former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s political comeback began in earnest over a cup of coffee in January with Jessica Provenz, a thirtysomething native New Yorker and single mom who is now a playwright from the Berkshires.
The Utica Observer-Dispatch urges readers to write to Cuomo to express their displeasure over patronage hiring.
Taxi and Limousine Commissioner David Yassky got his red sauce recipe from “The Godfather” and is giving his kids and education in the canon of “classic” TV.
The enacted FY2014 state budget plan can be found here.
Assemblywoman Jane Corwin says she contemplated retiring from politics after losing her congressional bid two years ago, but decided to stick around in Albany, where she holds the No. 2 spot in the Assembly GOP conference.
Another primer on the 1947 Wilson-Pakula Law that has been the talk of Albany lately.
A coalition pushing for public financing of campaigns in New York criticized Sen. Tom O’Mara, the head of the Senate Elections Committee, for contributions he has received from special interests outside his district.
NYC mayoral hopefuls Chris Quinn, the Council Speaker, and Joe Lhota, former MTA chairman, recall spending time on Long Island as kids.
Following in the footsteps of his former boss, ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, Lhots is paying special attention to Staten Island.
The Cuomo administration has set aside nearly $140 million for an ad campaign called “New York State Open for Business,” with the money drawn largely from a state authority created to lower electricity bills and from federal disaster aid.
The Syracuse Post-Standard credits Mayor Stephanie Miner for getting Cuomo to move the plight of Upstate cities near the top of his post-budget session agenda, and says fixing binding arbitration would be a good place to start.
After “Spider Man” finishes filming in Rochester, the Democrat and Chronicle says the state should provide a full report on the experience – both good and bad – to the public.
The NYC Campaign Finance Board called in its annual report for replacing the partisan Board of Elections with a nonpartisan body, making it easier to switch party registration and even to be able to vote on the same day you register.
Staten Island Republican Rep. Michael Grimm has been chosen as one of the four co-chairs of the Congressional Caucus on Poland.
New York City needs to do a better job warning residents about the seriousness of storms like Sandy, according to a new report.
A high school senior writes a JFK Profile in Courage essay on former state Sen. Roy McDonald.
May 3rd - 5:27 pm
The Cuomo administration has set aside nearly $140 million for a “New York State Open for Business” ad campaign, with the money drawn from a state authority created to lower electricity bills and federal disaster aid.
First Mom Matilda Raffa Cuomo shares some insight into her son’s (the governor’s) upbringing, and her recipe for braciola.
Gov. Cuomo’s sister, film producer Maria Cuomo-Cole, took to Twitter this morning to publicly support an EMILY’s List campaign to put a woman in the White House.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand insists she has “no plans” to run for president in 2016, and still plans to back Hillary Clinton if she gets into the race.
New York will send troopers this weekend to the Long Island Marathon to assist Nassau County with security.
AG Eric Schneiderman obtained a landmark decision shutting down Campaign Center, Inc., one of New York’s largest professional fundraising firms, for defrauding the public in the name of fighting breast cancer.
First Lady Michelle Obama will headline a fundraiser for the DNC in NYC on May 29.
Shareholders in Indian Point’s Entergy Corp. voted down a measure put forth by state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli that would have changed how the company stores used fuel at its nuclear plants.
The LCA show is Tweeting.
Members of the CSEA rejected a tentative agreement that the union reached with Erie County last month.
Sen. Liz Krueger is angry with the IDC for blaming the “regular” Democrats for not having enough votes to pass an abortion rights bill.
Palmetto Playground, a triangular park adjacent to the Brooklyn Queens Expressway was renamed for Adam Yauch, the late Beastie Boys member and Brooklyn native who spent time there as child.
Mayor Bloomberg still has nice things to say about NYC Council Speaker and Democratic mayoral frontrunner Chris Quinn.
NYC schools’ annual letter grades would become a thing of the past if any of the mayoral candidates who attended a parent-oriented forum in Brooklyn last night takes over for Bloomberg next year.
Fewer parents decided to “opt-out” their children from last month’s new state tests than superintendents had expected, and schools’ concerns shifted to students’ difficulty finishing the exams within the allotted time.
RIP Jeffrey “Cooter” Coon, a longtime employee and executive chef at the Syracuse-based Dinosaur Bar-B-Que.
May 3rd - 2:23 pm
ICYMI, this was today’s morning memo:
It looks like Gov. Andrew Cuomo isn’t the only New Yorker keeping a close eye on Hillary Clinton as she mulls whether to make another run for the White House in 2016.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, the state’s junior US senator, has been generating a lot of buzz lately as a potential presidential contender should Clinton take a pass on the race.
The former upstate congresswoman is generally not included in hypothetical head-to-head match-ups for 2016 (much to the chagrin of EMILY’s List, which would like women other than Clinton to be added to pollsters’ lists in its push to see a “Madam President” take the oath in 2017).
But Gillibrand is increasingly on the radar screen of 2016 watchers. She was the subject of a POLITICO story last weekend, which not only included the obligatory Tracy Flick reference, but also glowing praise from former DNC Chairman and presidential contender Howard Dean, who said:
“If Hillary doesn’t run, I think there’s going to be a legitimate woman candidate, and it’s likely to be Kirsten Gillibrand. (She has) changed her positions, (but) she doesn’t do it in a way that seems to alienate her base.”
Gillibrand brushes off the 2016 talk, saying she would be the first to ask Clinton to run.
She has long-standing ties to the former first lady/ex-secretary of state, working to get Clinton elected to the US Senate in 2000, and then seeing a log-time Clinton aide, Howard Wolfson, return the favor when she ran her long shot – and eventually successful – challenge against then-GOP Rep. John Sweeney in 2006.
In that race, former President Clinton also gave Gillibrand a boost, traveling to what was then NY-20 for a last minute, pre-Election Day rally on her behalf.
But for all her “who me?” comments, Gillibrand is also cannily positioning herself to take her game to the next level. Not only has she taken a lead role on hot button issues like gay rights and sexual assault in the military, but last year, she launched a political action committee called Off the Sidelines that raised some $1 million for women candidates all across the country – some of whom are now office-holders who owe her a favor.
This year, Gillibrand is doubling down on Off the Sidelines, hoping to boost its fundraising to $2 million to use in the 2014 midterms.
And that effort is already well underway. Last night, Gillibrand sent a fundraising email to supporters that featured a “launch” video for Off the Sidelines along with a plea for contributions. (The video in question appears below).
Many observers say Gillibrand might just be the luckiest person in New York politics, thanks to her uncanny ability for being at the right place at the right time and seemingly effortlessly navigating the shoals and reefs that have tripped up many others before her.
She was able to topple Sweeney largely thanks to a well-timed leak of a 9-1-1 call made by the former congressman’s then-wife, which tipped the race in Gillibrand’s favor. (Sweeney was really his own worst enemy in that race, arguably defeating himself with a string of bad decisions).
In 2009, after President Obama tapped Clinton to be his secretary of state, then-Gov. David Paterson made the unexpected choice of Gillibrand to fill Clinton’s Senate seat.
After serving for a single term as a Blue Dog Democrat representing a GOP-dominated district, Gillibrand initially had trouble with the left – particularly when it came to same-sex marriage and gun control. But she worked hard to ingratiate herself with the Democratic Party’s liberal wing, and is now counted as a loyal champion of its causes.
Though her poll numbers have rare made it far out of the 50s, the Republican Party has been unable to find a strong candidate to defeat Gillibrand. A number of high-profile former elected officials, including ex-NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani and ex-Gov. George Pataki, have taken a pass on challenging her.
Instead, thanks also to infighting between the Republicans and the Conservatives, she has faced weak and little-known opponents like ex-Rep. Joe DioGuardi and attorney Wendy Long, all the while honing her political and fundraising skills.
Even if Clinton doesn’t run in 2016, Gillibrand would probably be a long-shot. It’s unclear if she would actually go so far as to battle her fellow New Yorker – and one-time boss at HUD – Gov. Cuomo.
But Gillibrand watchers also know better than to underestimate her. Behind her high-pitched voice and attractive exterior (Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid once called her the “hottest” member of the Senate) is a steely, aggressive and ambitious pol.
Gillibrand is only 46 years old. Even if she has to wait another eight years for her turn in the national spotlight, she’ll only be in her mid-50s when the next open White House slot will likely come up. Other aspiring Democrats – and Republicans, too – would be wise mot to count her out.
May 3rd - 2:09 pm
The Senate Republicans have seized on yesterday’s conviction of two former aides to NYC Comptroller/Democratic mayoral hopeful John Liu on charges of campaign finance fraud as proof that a publicly financed system is “an invitation to more corruption and wrongdoing, and will only result in politicians taking taxpayers for a ride.”
“Under this system, state taxpayers would be forced to shell out hundreds of millions of dollars for negative television commercials, glossy mailers and the robocalls people hate,” said Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos in a statement released this afternoon.
“I believe we should use that money to invest in our schools, provide property tax relief or restore the Governor’s cuts to programs that affect the developmentally disabled.”
“We need additional disclosure and more transparency, but the abuses that took place in the Liu campaign and in countless others which received public matching funds make it increasingly clear that we don’t need taxpayer-funded political campaigns.”
The GOP is really digging in its heels on this one, which presents a problem for IDC leader Jeff Klein, since he is propsing a public matching system much like the one that currently exists in New York City as part of his omnibus campaign finance reform bill. Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s reform proposal also has a matching component, as does the plan floated by the Assembly Democrats.
UPDATE: Citizens Action’s Charlie Albanetti sent the following statement on behalf of the Fair Elections for New York campaign:
“Yesterday’s convictions prove that strong enforcement works. Both Oliver Pan and Jenny Hou face a maximum of a combined 80 years plus behind bars – that’s hardly an ‘an invitation to more corruption and wrongdoing (sic) which will only result in politicians taking taxpayers for a ride,’ as the Senate Republicans claim.”
“The Campaign Finance Board realized something was wrong when the hand writing on Liu’s donor cards was the same, the FBI investigated, the United State Attorney prosecuted, and a jury convicted.”
“Senator Skelos and his conference don’t want comprehensive campaign finance reform because they’ve figured out a way to collect tons of campaign cash from a wealthy few with very little oversight or accountability. It’s clear the public is demanding action in response to corruption in the Capitol, and the Senate Republicans are the only ones in Albany who want to keep the status quo.”
May 3rd - 1:43 pm
Is this Albany, or the CIA?
With all the spying going on around the state Capitol these days, you could be forgiven for mistaking the Legislature for some kind of covert undercover operation.
On the heels of last month’s revelation that now former Assemblyman Nelson Castro had been wearing a wire for federal prosecutors determined to bust some of his fellow corrupt colleagues for almost his entire tenture in office comes the news that yet another legislator agreed to use a recording device at the feds’ behest.
As the New York Times first reported that former Sen. Shirley Huntley “recorded multiple elected officials at the direction of federal prosecutors last year while she was still serving in the Legislature.”
The court documents which appear below and reveal that Huntley, who pleaded guilty to corruption charges in January, recorded meetings with nine different people, seven of whom were elected officials and two others who had previously worked as a consultant or staff member to a public official.
These recordings might result in more charges against another, unnamed senator, and two other elected officials. More from the Times:
“According to the court papers, as part of their investigation, law enforcement officials conducted a wiretap of Ms. Huntley’s cellphone in April and May of 2012. F.B.I. agents then confronted the senator with evidence gathered from the wiretap, and she retained a lawyer and later attempted to cooperate with the authorities, according to the papers, which were filed in Federal District Court in Brooklyn by three assistant United States attorneys.”
“Between June and August of 2012, Ms. Huntley, acting at the direction of law enforcement, proceeded to make recordings. The court papers said the recordings “did yield evidence useful to law enforcement authorities” about the unnamed state senator and two other elected officials, and that details of the recordings would be discussed in a sealed letter to be filed with the court next week.”
Huntley pleaded guilty in federal court in January to funneling over $87,000 in taxpayer money through a nonprofit organization that she was running, and is scheduled to be sentenced on Thursday. She lost her seat in last year’s Democratic primary to now-Sen. James Sanders.
The former senator apparently also took a bribe as well. Prosecutors say that in March 2012, Huntley was contacted by “State Senator #1″ while she was still a sitting senator. (This has been corrected).
The unnamed senator wanted Huntley to use her position to help a busniessman who was seeking to expand at JFK International Airport, which is located in Huntley’s Queens district, in exchange for cash.
Senator #1 set up the meeting, and Huntley did receive $1,000, which she did not disclose to the state Board of Elections as a contribution, but she was never able to obtain a lease for additional space from the Port Authority.