Monthly Archives: August 2015

Stewart-Cousins on Women’s Equality Party

Matthew Hamilton writes about Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and the new Women’s Equality Party in the Times Union.

From the article: “If we’re going to have a Women’s Equality Party, I think it’s good that women are involved,” Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins said in a Monday interview on WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom.” “And I think it’s good that we support the broadest possible issues in terms of women’s equality and bolstering our opportunities in this state.”

“Stewart-Cousins was asked specifically about a move by one of her former senators, Cecilia Tkaczyk of Duanesburg, to take over control of the WEP. Stewart-Cousins called Tkaczyk a great senator, but didn’t say much specifically on the former senator’s tactic.”

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Tkaczyk Explains Takeover Attempt Of Cuomo’s Women’s Party

Following a story first appearing on this blog,  Politico New York’s Bill Mahoney has a story why  “former senator Cecilia Tkaczyk…is leading an effort to take control of the Women’s Equality Party because she is “making sure women are running it.”

The party was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo during his successful re-election campaign last year, and gained official party status when he received over 50,000 votes on that line.

The governor signed organizational rules for the W.E.P. in July. Last Friday, Tkaczyk submitted competing rules that made her the party’s chair.”

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Secession? New York Spinning Off Upstate Into New Amsterdam?

Remember when Norman Mailer and Jimmy Breslin campaigned to make New York City the 51st state? Or when proposals to let Staten Island secede from New York City? The Times Union’s Matthew Hamilton take s a look at separating upstate from downstate.

SUNY New Paltz Professor Gerald Benjamin (and fellow at SUNY Buffalo Law) opines:

“It would change the majorities, it would change the dynamics, it would change an awful lot of stuff,” SUNY New Paltz distinguished professor of political science Gerald Benjamin said in an interview last week. “… It depends where you made the cut, but let’s just say you took out the New York metro area … the politics would change. The Republican-Democrat balance would change. There’d be a chance for Republican control of both houses of the Legislature. The downstate area would be entirely Democrat.”

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GOP Lawyer Seeks Documents On Canceled Suffolk Treasurer Election

Rick Brand reports in Newsday that GOP attorneys are looking into the cancelled Suffolk County Treasurer’s race. Accoding to Brand, “lawyers from the Nassau firm of Republican election law expert Peter Bee have sought documents from the Suiffolk board of elections over the treasurer’s election, which is now not to be.

Bee declined to comment on the request, but there’s speculation about a legal challenge from GOP treasurer contender Irene D’Abramo, an election worker who had formed a campaign fund and has held a fundraiser event and has another one planned.”

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End Of The LLC Outrage?

The Albany Times Union looks to a lawsuit filed by Board Of Elections enforcement counsel Risa Sugarman to close the LLC loophole not addressed in this year’s legislative session. The editorial  argues that “one of the most outrageous loopholes in New York’s campaign finance system may get closed, no thanks to lawmakers who have milked it for all it’s worth, and no thanks to a state Board of Elections that serves politicians more than the people.”

The editorial explores how  “Ms. Sugarman has filed a lawsuit against the campaign of Shirley Paterson, an independent who ran unsuccessfully in a special election in May for the 43rd Assembly District seat in Brooklyn. The suit says Ms. Paterson received donations from two New York City LLCs controlled by the same developer, Kevin Maloney, and totaling $5,000 – $900 more than Mr. Maloney could legally give on his own. It also cites $6,250 in donations from the law office of Benjamin M. Pinczewski, along with $2,500 from Pinczewski and Shpelfogel LLC. In both cases, the suit contends, these LLCs have no “separate legitimate existence” and exist solely to circumvent campaign donation limits.”

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2016 Presidential Primary Calendar

The  Board of Elections has published the 2016 calendar for the presidential primary. Read it here.

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How To End The Feud Between the Mayor And The Governor

Former Congress Member and Mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner weighs in to the feud between Governor Cuomo and Mayor deBlasio with an oped in the NY TIMES. He suggests a constitutional convention as one way to help end future Governor-Mayor fights.

From the oped:

But we no longer live in a time when Albany can say its custodianship is needed because the cities and towns are incompetent or corrupt. There is really no good reason today for a senator in far upstate Oswego to weigh in on a housing incentive deal on 57th Street in Manhattan.

We need to fix this out-of-whack balance of power and return more authority to New York, and to other cities. The most common way to change the state Constitution is for the Legislature to vote and for citizens to ratify the changes. This may work for some matters, but for obvious reasons, it is not a good vehicle for getting Albany to cede control.”

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By LLC Lawsuit’s Logic, Governor Could Be Docked Nearly $5 million

POLITICO New York’ Bill Mahoney reports that Governor Cuomo who has” raised the most money from limited liability companies isn’t concerned about the ramifications of a lawsuit that seeks to fine a candidate for accepting large sums from such donors.

“The campaign follows all finance laws and will continue to do so,” a spokesman for Gov. Andrew Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. “The Governor has been a vocal leader in reforming campaign finance laws, including closing the LLC loophole, and he will continue to fight to do just that.”

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Tom DiNapoli: New York Should Opt Into Public Financing of Elections

In Wednesday’s Albany Times Union, Comptroller DiNapoli  called for campaign finance reform, including implementing a public funding program for all state elections. The Comptroller reproduced the article in an email he sent to his lists. It is reproduced here below.

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New York Should Opt Into Public Financing of Elections
By Thomas P. DiNapoli | August 26, 2015

In 2014, I faced one of the hardest decisions of my career: Should I opt into a public financing program for the comptroller’s race or not? For years, I had called for public financing of political campaigns. I’d even pushed my own legislation to start with the state comptroller’s office.

But now I was faced with a deeply flawed pilot program that had been rushed into law for an election a mere seven months later. The legislation was sloppy, inadequate and unsound in so many ways that good government groups that had spent decades fighting for this change were outraged and encouraged me to reject it.

In the end, I agreed with the advocates and chose not to participate in the pilot. There were too many signs that the program was doomed from the start. Perhaps it was designed to fail.

A new report from the state Board of Elections validates these concerns, noting the “extremely short” time frame to implement the plan and the hurdles that made it impractical or impossible for candidates to participate.

But the failure of one poorly designed plan should not dissuade New York from considering and adopting real public campaign finance reform.

I commend the state Board of Elections for making thoughtful suggestions on how to make a new public finance system viable: officials must have at least two years to implement a program and those seeking public financing need the proper time to opt-in and meet participation thresholds.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 13 states across the country offer some kind of public financing to political candidates, and those systems have been proven to work. New York City has operated under a voluntary publicly funded system for more than 20 years. While not perfect, it is successful in promoting competition and reducing the influence of private donations.

In this era of extreme voter cynicism brought on by a seemingly endless series of corruption scandals, it’s time for the state to get on board. We need comprehensive campaign finance reform in New York now, including public funding of elections for all state offices: governor, comptroller, attorney general, Senate and Assembly.

Campaigns are big business in New York, and vast sums are required to mount an effective race, especially for statewide office. Anyone who is not wealthy but wants to run for office is often denied the opportunity because he or she simply can’t self-fund a campaign.

We need to consider the cost to our state of this system that keeps too many ordinary, qualified people out of public office; away from creating the laws we all must follow.

Current contribution limits for statewide offices are $19,700 for a primary and $41,100 for a general election. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median annual household income in New York state in 2013 was $58,000. How can New Yorkers believe in a system that lets statewide candidates accept contributions larger than the average family’s income?

Many believe the influence of big money in politics sometimes causes elected officials to forget the best interests of their constituents. This is eroding voter confidence in the process.

The best place to start cleaning up government is at the beginning: election to office.

Public financing allows regular citizens who do not have access to established political fundraising circles the ability to raise money and compete in elections. Matching funds for smaller contributions also forces candidates to focus on grassroots donors.

A new financing system in New York is a relatively low-cost tool that allows candidates and elected officials to make decisions without undue influence from large campaign contributors, taking the perception of pay-to-play off the table.

The non-partisan Campaign Finance Institute suggested the cost for public financing would be $26 million to $41 million annually — a few dollars per New Yorker for a sound investment in a more open, transparent state government.

The bottom line is that we must change the old ways of raising money in Albany. It’s time for New York state to build a new foundation of public trust by enacting campaign finance reform in time for the next state election.

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New York Now Has Two Women’s Equality Parties

Former State Senator Cecelia Tkaczyk filed a set of rules for the Women’s Equality Party.

There are now two different sets of rules for this party – each with different leadership.

It’s fair to assume this development will be headed to a courtroom sometime soon.

You can read the papers filed today here:  Women’s Equality Party II Rules

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