Feb 7th - 4:23 pm
A panel of seven appellate court judges has unanimously upheld the 2011 conviction of GOP operative John Haggerty of charges related to the theft of $1.1 million worth of Mayor Bloomberg’s money during the billionaire mayor’s third (and final) re-election campaign in 2009.
A refresher: Bloomberg contriubted the cash in question to the state Independence Party, which, in turn, gave it to Haggerty to provide a ballot security program on Election Day. Prosecutors said Haggerty used most of the money – about $750,000 – to purchase his father’s house in Forest Hills, Queens.
In their ruling, which appears below (and starts on page 23), the judges wrote:
“Since the transfer of the money from the Mayor to the Independence Party was the larceny, the evidence also proved defendants’ guilt of money laundering, based on the transfer of the proceeds of the larceny from the Independence Party to the shell corporation.”
“The evidence supports the conclusion that the transfer was designed in whole or in part to ‘conceal or disguise the nature, the location, the source, the ownership or the control of the proceeds’ of the preexisting larceny.”
Haggerty was initially found guilty of second-degree grand larceny and second-degree money laundering by a jury, but received a “not guilty” verdict on the most serious charge against him: First-degree grand larceny.
His sentencing in December 2011 to an aggregate term of one and a third to four years in prison plus with $750,000 in restitution was also upheld by the appellate panel.
Haggerty has remained free while his appeal was pending. During that time, he engaged in some political work, popping up to assist NYC Councilman Eric Ulrich, also a Queens Republican, with his unsuccessful state Senate run last year.
Aug 28th - 9:03 am
Former US Sen. Alfonse D’Amato is expanding the reach of his lobbying firm, Park Strategies, by purchasing the ALbany-based firm Capitol Public Strategies, founded and run by a handful of former Pataki administration aides.
A source familiar with the acquisition said D’Amato will make a formal announcement when he speaks to New York’s GOP convention delegation here at the Clearwater Hilton this morning.
Capitol Public Strategies was launched in 2008 by ex-Gov. George Pataki’s former communications director, Dave Catalfamo, with with veteran Albany lobbyist Jim McCulley.
In 2009, the firm added a number of additional Pataki administration veterans, including Jeff Lovell, Bob Bulman and Bill McGahay.
Former state GOP executive director and Pataki aide Ryan Moses signed on, too, after serving for nearly three years as Director of Government Relations for the Wladis Law Firm.
The firm has done a mix of political consulting and lobbying jobs, and is currently working on (through Catalfamo) Wendy Long’s longshot bid to unseat Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
D’Amato founded Park Strategies in 1999 – the year after he was ousted by Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer in a tight race.
D’Amato was once a GOP powerbroker. He propelled Pataki, then a little-known state senator, to victory against former Gov. Mario Cuomo in 1994 with the help of state party chairman Bill Powers.
But the former senator’s political clout has waned in recent years, although his ability to earn money through lobbying hasn’t waned. In 2003, he infamously earned $500,000 for making a single phone call.
D’Amato, while still a Republican, has since become a big supporter of, (and fundraiser for), Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Jul 25th - 7:05 am
Blake Zeff, a veteran Democratic operative perhaps best known for his stint as Hillary Clinton’s spokesman, is no longer working for AG Eric Schneiderman.
Both Zeff and Schneiderman’s office confirmed his departure and said it was amicable on both sides.
Zeff was serving as a senior advisor to the AG and was on track to direct a new bureau to review potential wrongful convictions that Schneiderman announced in April.
The Brooklyn resident has decided to try his hand at something other than politics: Writing. (Although the subject of his writing will be politics, so he’s keeping a toe in the game).
During a brief phone interview last night, Zeff said his final day on the public payroll was last Friday. He’s going to be writing columns on national politics, with a focus on the current race for the White House, for a variety of outlets.
His first piece appeared in the Daily News yesterday. In it, Zeff defended Mayor Bloomberg for being outspoken about the need for stronger gun control laws in the wake of the Aurora, Colo. shooting.
Zeff also hinted about a post-November elections book in the works on presidential campaigns.
He has ample experience to draw on, having worked on Clinton’s 2008 White House bid and then transferred to Barack Obama’s campaign, heading up communications in New York, after the then-Illinois senator defeated the then-NY senator in the Democratic primary.
Zeff graduated from the press shop boot camp of Sen. Chuck Schumer’s office, which has honed a wide array of political operatives and spokespeople – including Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s current attack dog, Josh Vlasto.
Zeff also served as the communications director for the state Democratic Party in 2006 when Clinton was running for re-election for her US Senate seat.
Jul 18th - 1:56 pm
Love him or hate him, you’ve got to give it to veteran Democratic consultant (and rabbi!) Hank Sheinkopf: The man’s got comic timing.
Here’s Sheinkopf’s cameo from last night’s Daily Show, from a “report” on producing a negative ad for Mexico’s presidential elections, in which they were banned. (H/T CityandState).
Jul 10th - 11:51 am
Much speculation has surrounded NYC Councilman Simcha Felder’s political loyalties since he announced his intention to run for the new so-called Super Jewish Senate district in Brooklyn.
Felder is a registered Democrat and is running on the Democratic line, (NOTE: He also is facing a primary challenge from a fellow Democrat, Abraham Tischler), but he has a history of alliances with Republicans – most notably, Mayor Bloomberg (back before he switched his enrollment for the second time and became an independent).
There have been reports that Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is tacitly supporting Felder, even though freshman Sen. David Storobin, who complicated things for the GOP by winning a long-fought special election against Democratic NYC Councilman Lew Fidler for ex-Sen. Carl Kruger’s soon-to-be nonexistent seat, has said he plans to run, too.
Now comes a tidbit that will no doubt further fuel talk that Felder is a GOP sympathizer: He has been in talks with consultant E. O’Brien Murray to run his campaign this fall.
Felder told me during a brief phone interview that he has “been talking to a lot of people” – including Murray – and hasn’t yet made any campaign hires.
Murray is a former Pataki administration aide who is perhaps best known for master-minding Rep. Bob Turner’s surprise win in last year’s special election for ex-Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Democrat-dominated Queens/Brooklyn seat. Turner, as you’ll recall, defeated Democratic Assemblyman David Weprin in that race.
Turner drew the short straw in the redistricting process when the Senate Republicans failed to reach a deal with the Assembly Democrats that would have protected his district, NY-9, from being eliminated.
The court-drawn plan merged his district into surrounding districts, leaving him three choices: Run in nearby NY-6, which was represented by retiring Rep. Gary Ackerman; end his very short – but high-profile – political career; or seek another office to run for.
Turner opted for choice number three and joined the GOP US Senate primary just before the party’s convention in Rochester. He was banking on his name recognition downstate to boost turnout and national prominence to help with fundraising.
The strategy didn’t work, and Turner lost the primary to attorney Wendy Long, (although he did beat Nassau County Comptroller George Maragos). NOTE: A read correctly points out that O’Brien ran Turner’s unsuccessful Senate bid, so he’s 1 for 1, as far as the congressman’s political career is concerned.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jerry Nadler and 130 other Democrats filed an amicus brief in a case challenging the constitutionality of DOMA.
Now Long is preparing to face off against Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand in the November general election, Turner is preparing to re-retire, and O’Brien is looking for a new meal ticket.
The USDA launched an on-line “Super Tracker” to help people keep up with their food intake and exercise.
Jun 1st - 8:27 am
One of Rep. Nan Hayworth’s challengers, Richard Becker, is calling on the Republican congresswoman to fire her controversial spokesman following an on-line uproar after his “hurl some acid” at Democratic female senators comment on Facebook.
“Does Nan Hayworth want Jay Townsend to be the public face of her campaign? Because to me, this is clear cut: Jay’s rhetoric is indefensible,” said Becker.
“It’s just mind boggling that a Congressional spokesman would use this kind of incendiary and downright offensive language and equally shocking that his boss would not instantly fire him for doing so.”
“The specific choice of words here is also particularly sickening. Acid attacks on women have a disturbing and disgusting history – they’re used almost exclusively to silence and punish women across the globe who’ve bravely spoken out on behalf of their human rights.”
“With every minute ‘No Comment’ Nan refuses to take a stand, she takes on responsibility for Jay’s hateful and hurtful remarks.”
“Nan has a history of trying to duck tough issues – from her financial ties to embattled Rep. Michael Grimm to Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech – but she is out of excuses for further delay here. Refusing to take a stand now and fire Townsend would permanently mark Nan as unfit to hold public office and unworthy of the public’s trust.”
Becker even suggested Townsend’s comment, which has since been amended, may have may even be illegal.
Caro cited a federal law that prohibits anyone from threatening “to assault, kidnap, or murder, a United States official…with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official,” noting case law has made clear that violating this law doesn’t require an intent to carry out a threat.
Hayworth has so far refused to comment on the incident.
Townsend is hardly a neophyte in the political sphere. He’s a veteran GOP consultant who has worked for numerous candidates and even tried his own hand at running for office, challenging US Sen. Chuck Schumer in a long-shot – and wildly unsuccessful – 2010 campaign.
May 29th - 3:57 pm
With just four weeks remaining in the three-way GOP US Senate primary, Wendy Long has shaken up her campaign team, tapping former Pataki administration aide Rob Ryan to run her day-to-day operations and relegating Colorado GOP operative Dick Wadhams from the post of campaign manager to an advisory role.
Long’s spokesman Dave Catalfamo, (also a Pataki administration vet), insisted, as suggested in an earlier report, that Wadhams has not departed altogether and “remains a valuable resource to the campaign,” adding:
“Dick Wadhams has been indispensible in orchestrating the first phase of the campaign helping to secure the Conservative nod and the plurality of the Republican support for Wendy in just a few short weeks after entering the Senate primary.”
“…As we head into the stretch run, Rob’s deep experience and expertise in New York politics will be essential to reaching prime conservative-Republican voters.”
Catalfamo accused someone connected to one of Long’s opponents, Rep. Bob Turner, of spreading “rumors” that Wadhams had been fired.
“Rather than rumor mongering, Team Turner might better spend their time explaining their evolving positions on raising taxes and the 2nd amendment for Republican primary voters,” Catalfamo said in response to my question about whether change was afoot in the Long campaign.
Catalfamo also said this change had nothing to do with money problems, insisting Long expects to “raise the funds necessary to compete and win the primary.” As of Long’s last FEC filing at the end of March, she had $68,967 on hand. She had a pretty high burn rate, with consultants accounting for much of her spending – including $18,774 to Wadhams.
Wadhams was one of the first people Long hired back before she even formally declared her intention to seek the GOP and Conservative Party nods to challenge Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Despite the fact that he has been called “Karl Rove 2.0″ and has a reputation for aggressive campaigning, Wadhams has kept a pretty low profile in this race. He was at Long’s side at the Manhattan GOP’s Lincoln Day Dinner back in February, but hasn’t been seen much since then.
Apr 5th - 2:00 pm
E. O’Brien Murray, the campaign manager behind U.S. Rep. Bob Turner’s upset victory in the special election over Assemblyman David Weprin received the “campaign manager of the year” award from the American Association of Political Consultants.
Turner’s Senate campaign blasted out the news this afternoon:
“The AAPC confirms today what I learned a year ago: O’B Murray is the best in the business and I am proud to have him leading my campaign for the United States Senate,” Congressman Turner said. “We won this house seat the same way we will win the Senate seat in November — we told the truth, we stuck to our principles, and we outworked the rival campaign. O’B Murray is now at the helm of an even stronger campaign team which will work day and night through November to draw attention to the critical economic issues affecting New Yorkers and to Senator Gillibrand’s deeply inadequate record in Washington.”
Murray, who goes by OB, has a bigger challenge with the Senate race.
Turner will not have the ace up his sleeve that was former New York City Mayor Ed Koch, whose cross-party endorsement of the Republican was seen as key to winning the race in the heavily Jewish House district.
The campaign is also going up against the fundraising juggernaut that is Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and while the Turner camp took solace in the fact that today’s Q-poll put him above the rest of the GOP pack, he’s still down by 30 percentage points.
The fundraising effort for Turner is again being led by Ryan Miller. And the Turner campaign’s staff is being rounded out by Rob Cole, a former George Pataki hand and advisor to Mitt Romney.
Mar 13th - 1:47 pm
Rep. Bob turner’s announcement that he’s going to add his name to the list of Republicans hoping to take on Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand instead of running for re-election to the House has left a few well-known GOP operatives in an uncomfortable position.
E. O’Brien Murray, who worked with former state GOP legend/Chairman Bill Powers and former Gov. George Pataki, was credited with master-minding Turner’s win in the long-shot special election in former Rep. Anthony Weiner’s Democrat-dominated Queens/Brooklyn district that turned him into a national Republican rockstar overnight.
Bill O’Reilly, a fixture in NY GOP politics who is executive vice president of Nicholas & Lence Communications, handled media for Turner’s congressional campaign.
Now both consultants are working for Rye Town Supervisor Joe Carvin, who, until Turner’s big announcement today, was the latest arrival to the GOP we-want-to-beat Gillibrand party. They got on board with Carvin after their first candidate, TheLadders.com founder Marc Cenedella, was tanked by a racy blog he authored that featured some anti-woman posts.
I reached Murray, who goes by O.B., not long after Turner’s statement got blasted out to the NY media world. He said he had not yet made a decision about what he’ll be doing in this race, but made it clear he won’t be sticking around if Carvin decides to try to battle it out in a primary. UPDATE: To be clear, O.B. says he will not choose one candidate over the other, but rather would opt to “take a vacation” while this race plays out.
Carvin so far has just one county endorsement – Westchester – which doesn’t bring him anywhere close to the 25 percent weighted convention vote necessary to get onto the ballot.
He could try to petition his way onto the ballot – that worked for former Rep. Joe DioGuardi, who didn’t get onto the ballot at the convention and then managed to win a there-way GOP primary. But petition-gathering is time consuming and expensive, and the shortened political calendar doesn’t allow much time to get an operation off the ground.
Carvin has said he’s willing to spend $1 million on his campaign, which would theoretically be enough to fund a petition drive – and then some. But why he would want to fight what seems to be a losing battle is beyond me.
As for O’Reilly, he hasn’t made any decisions yet, either. But due to his obvious conflict here, Jessica Proud, who recently returned to NLC from Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino’s press shop, has taken over spokeswoman duty for Turner.
Feb 20th - 8:31 am
With exactly one month remaining in the race for former Sen. Carl Kruger’s Brooklyn seat, there has been a shakeup in the campaign of Republican contender David Storobin.
GOP sources confirm Jerry Sullivan, a one-time Assembly candidate and Brooklyn Republican operative who had been running Storobin’s campaign, is no longer on the job. “I was told he was just replaced,” a source said.
Storobin’s operation is now being entirely run by Senate GOP staffer Jason Brown, who has been working on the attorney and political newcomer’s campaign for a while now. “You know how the Senate operates,” the same source said. “They always put their people in charge.”
According to Storobin’s 32-day pre-special election filing, Sullivan was paid $1,770 between the end of January and the middle of February.
Also appearing on Storobin’s filing is Liam McCabe, an aide to Rep. Michael Grimm who was suspended by the congressman over the weekend after he was arrested and charged with assaulting his teenage son outside the boy’s Brooklyn school.
Storobin paid McCabe $1,200 over the past month as a consultant. Neither McCabe nor Sullivan appear on Storobin’s January filing.
As I reported last week, the Senate GOP has yet to produce the “tremendous” investment Storobin had boasted was being put into his campaign.
The Republicans appear to be reluctant to spend on the race unless internal polls show Storobin closing the gap between himself and his Democratic opponent, NYC Councilman Lew Fidler, as the March 20 election day draws closer.
Since the GOP has proposed eradicating the 27th SD in its redistricting map to make a new so-called “Super Jewish” district, it seems unlikely the majority will spend a lot to assist Storobin.
Both Storobin and Fidler have insisted they’ll be on the ballot in November, regardless of what the lines might be.
Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos has said he hopes the Legislature will approve its new maps by March 1 at the latest.
Assemblyman Jack McEneny has said minor changes are expected to the LATFOR plans, despite the fact that they have been widely condemned, particularly when it comes to the Senate’s proposal, as hyper-partisan and unfairly gerrymandered.