Monthly Archives: April 2016

Kaminsky Widens Lead Over McGrath In State Senate Race

Robert Brodsky reports in Newsday:

“the Nassau County Board of Elections on Wednesday began to count paper ballots in last week’s special election between Democratic Assemb. Todd Kaminsky and Republican Christopher McGrath to fill the seat of former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Election officials counted about 25 percent of the nearly 3,200 absentee, affidavit and emergency ballots in the 9th Senate District race. They came primarily from Long Beach, said Democratic Elections Commissioner David Gugerty.

By day’s end, Kaminsky, who already held an unofficial 780-vote lead over McGrath, had increased his margin by about 200 votes, said John Ryan, counsel for Republican Elections Commissioner Louis Savinetti.”

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The de Blasio Fundraising Investigation Reaches Western New York

From Ryan Whelan in Capital Tonight:

“Republicans in western New York are filing complaints to the Board of Elections to have the races from 2014 in their areas investigated for wrongdoing as well. 

The investigation centers around money funneled to candidates thought the Putnam and Ulster County Democratic Committees but also makes mention of candidates Ted O’Brien in Monroe County and Marc Panepinto in Erie.

“No formal complaint had been made and therefore they weren’t examining it,” said Monroe County Republican Chairman Bill Reilich. “We’re pursuing that.”

Reilich’s committee said Wednesday it wants the Board of Elections to investigate the O’Brien race as well.

“The Republican Party will just send a letter to the Board of Elections asking them to review it and if there’s no wrongdoing then so be it and if there’s an issue then we all need to play on the same fair playing field,” Reilich said.”

 

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Conflict of Interest, Leaked Memo Cloud De Blasio Accusations

In Gotham Gazette, David Howard King  writes:

“The revelation that it was Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s chosen enforcement counsel at the Board of Elections who sparked an investigation into Mayor BIll de Blasio’s fundraising activities, in the mayor’s 2014 effort to flip control of the state Senate, has raised a number of questions about motivation and independence.

De Blasio has asserted his innocence, saying that he and his associates followed the letter of the law. He and his lawyer have used Risa Sugarman, the BOE enforcement counsel who used to work for Cuomo, and the leak of her referral to investigators to discredit allegations that the fundraising he spearheaded broke election laws. Analysts say these arguments, in which de Blasio has repeatedly questioned Sugarman’s “motivations,” are at least somewhat effective because the governor has a long history of stacking state watchdog organizations, boards, and agencies with his friends, long-time employees, and political donors.

“There is pervasive conflict of interest under Governor Cuomo, including in the areas of ethics enforcement he has a hand in,” said John Kaehny, executive director of Reinvent Albany. “Risa Sugarman should not be the enforcement counsel at BOE, just as Seth Agata should not be executive director of JCOPE. They are seen by many as Cuomo loyalists, not independent actors. Their relationship to Cuomo colors everything they do, including investigating the governor’s political foes.”

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Suffolk Democrats Say They Returned Big Union Checks In 2014

In Newsday, David M. Schwartz reports on campaign contributions returned  to the teachers union by the Suffolk County Democratic Party:

“The Suffolk Democratic Committee returned a $100,000 union campaign contribution during the 2014 election because the union sought to steer the money to Democratic State Senate candidate Adrienne Esposito in possible violation of state election law, according to documents and Suffolk Democratic officials.

The New York State United Teachers also sent or offered contributions intended for Esposito’s campaign to three town Democratic committees in Suffolk, county Democratic chairman Richard Schaffer and town committee chairs said.

Brookhaven and Smithtown Democrats declined the contributions. The Islip Town Democratic Committee accepted a $40,000 donation from NYSUT and contributed $20,000 to Esposito’s campaign a week later, state campaign finance records show.”

 

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De Blasio’s Office Gets Subpoenas As Inquiries Into Fund-Raising Continue

J. David Goodman reports in the New York Times:

“the office of Mayor Bill de Blasio has received subpoenas from federal and state prosecutors in connection with a series of overlapping investigations into his fund-raising activities, the counsel to the mayor said on Wednesday.

The subpoenas came from Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, and from the Manhattan district attorney’s office.

“City Hall has been subpoenaed,” the counsel, Maya Wiley, said in a statement. “We are fully cooperating with the investigation. The mayor has not been personally served.”

The subpoenas went to at least one of Mr. de Blasio’s top aides, Emma Wolfe, according to a person familiar with the matter, and to Ross A. Offinger, his campaign finance director, according to another person familiar with the matter. It was not clear when they were received.”

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Common Cause To Release Report On Housekeeping Accounts

At noon, Common Cause/NY will hold a telephone press conference with reporters to release a briefing on contributions to party Housekeeping accounts in New York from 2013-2015.

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Remembering Al Lowenstein: NYC’s Disgraceful—and Long—History of Election Mishaps

The Observer’s editors take a look back at other Election Day mishaps and focus on the 1972 congressional primary of the late Congressman Al Lowenstein. It’s a “must” read:

“We were reminded of New York’s sordid history of “voting irregularities” during a lunch two days after the primary with the legendary trial attorney David Ellenhorn. Mr. Ellenhorn was a young partner at Kronish Lieb in 1972 when he got a call from former Congressman Allard K. Lowenstein.

Lowenstein, a founder and the driving force behind the anti-war movement’s “Dump Johnson” movement in 1968, had been elected to the House of Representatives that year from Nassau County. Two years later, after being named No. 7 on President Nixon’s “enemies list,” he saw his district disappear in a gerrymandered reapportionment. With his wife and three young children, he moved to Brooklyn’s not-yet-gentrified Fort Greene and took on one of Congress’ most senior and influential Democrats: John Rooney. And in so doing, Lowenstein also took on the Brooklyn Democratic machine and its powerful leader, Meade Esposito.

Despite an influx of hundreds of youthful volunteers, celebrities and newspaper endorsements, Lowenstein lost the Democratic primary—by 890 votes out of more than 30,000 cast. Convinced that the election had been stolen—what losing candidate doesn’t believe that?—Lowenstein turned to Ellenhorn and a young Kronish Lieb associate named Harvey Lippman to prove it—in court.

Mr. Ellenhorn reminded us that dozens of campaign volunteers spent the hot summer combing the voter registration books, examining the “buff cards”—the signature cards named for the color of the thick paper—and looking for patterns of voter fraud. They documented hundreds of instances of dead people being allowed to vote and dozens of buff cards where voters had the chutzpah to sign the buff cards and vote—twice in a single day. And all of these irregularities happened in Rooney-friendly districts and under the watchful eyes of Election Board factotums.

Ellenhorn’s young investigators found a different pattern of abuse in Lowenstein-friendly districts. There they discovered a pattern of voting machines breaking down or machines not showing up at all on Election Day. The wait to vote lasted up to five hours (in Cadman Plaza). But most often, voters would show up at their regular polling place and be told that their buff cards were lost—that they were not registered—and be turned away.

After a trial before a Supreme Court justice who just happened to be Meade Esposito’s personal lawyer and not surprisingly ruled against Lowenstein, Ellenhorn appealed and prevailed before New York’s highest court. The Court of Appeals threw the primary result out—declaring “massive irregularities”—and ordered a new election. Unfortunately, Meade Esposito’s machine—and his control of the Board of Elections—was able to repeat the same tricks that led to the first stolen election.”

Note- I ask any reader who was involved in the 1972 Lowenstein cases to contact me at jwice@buffalo.edu

 

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