Monthly Archives: May 2016

IG: Board Of Elections’ Scathing de Blasio Report Leaded By Spokesman

We learn today that nobody associated with the Governor leaked information on the Board Of Elections report over 2014 campaign contributions. Instead, Chris Bragg reports in the Times Union that the report was leaked by a Republican Board Of Elections staff member:

“At least in this instance, it wasn’t Gov. Andrew Cuomo behind a leak damaging New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.

The Republican spokesman of the New York State Board of Elections was behind the recent leak of a report that was sharply critical of de Blasio’s 2014 tactics in trying to win Democratic control of the state Senate.

That’s according to a report released today by the Office of Inspector General, which said that the spokesman, John Conklin, had admitted leaking the confidential Board of Elections report that became the subject of an explosive April 22 article by the New York Daily News’ Ken Lovett.

The January report of the Board’s enforcement unit had found “willful and flagrant” violations “warranting prosecution” stemming from the efforts of de Blasio”s team in 2014. Those efforts may have worked around campaign contribution limits by funneling money through various obscure upstate county committees that can take six-figure donations and then to Democratic Senate candidates that could take unlimited sums from party committees.”

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NYS Board Of Elections Memo on Small Party Primaries

The State Board Of Elections has sent a memorandum to all county election boards describing options that counties have when administering a primary with a very small number of enrolled voters to ensure that the secrecy of each ballot is preserved.

You can read the memo here: NYSBOE_Memo on Preserving Voter Privacy in Small Primaries

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Long Island Democrats And Activists Push For LLC Loophole Closure

A group of Long Island state legislators and activists held a press conference on Friday to call for action to close the LLC loophole before the legislature adjourns next month. In Newsday’s Spin Cycle, Paul LaRocco reports:
“For too long, the playing field has been titled in favor of wealthy campaign donors and big money interests in Albany, while the voices of voters have been drowned out, or shut out, entirely,” said Emily Abbott, the Working Families Party’s Long Island political director. “It’s time for that to change.”

Currently, state law allows companies to exceed the $5,000 corporate limit by creating an unlimited amount of limited liability companies to funnel donations. Some large firms have used dozens of different LLCs to contribute millions of dollars in total donations in recent years.

Cuomo, whose own campaign has received millions of dollars in contributions from LLCs, proposed treating the entities as “traditional corporations” and capping their contributions at $5,000 annually. The Democrat-led Assembly supports the proposal.”

Senate Republicans counter, continuing:

” that the focus on LLCs ignores the fact that large labor unions and other political action committees are still able to skirt campaign finance limits for individual candidates by giving their money to political party committees. The party committees can transfer unlimited amounts of money funds to specific candidates.

“A proposal to close the LLC loophole is a red herring that fails to fundamentally address the root cause of the problems that exist within our campaign finance system, mostly notably a lack of enforcement, a lack of transparency, and a lack of full and honest disclosure,” Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) said this week when Cuomo introduced his bills.”



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Monroe County Dems Receive Subpoena

Nick Reisman reports that “the Monroe County Democratic County Committee  has received a subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance’s office in the investigation surrounding Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to boost Senate Democrats in 2014.

“The Monroe County Democratic Committee has received a subpoena from Manhattan District Attorney’s Office seeking records related to certain campaign contributions,” said the committee’s counsel, Chris Thomas. “MCDC has already provided documents in response and will continue to fully cooperate with that inquiry.”

De Blasio is facing multiple investigations into his political fundraising, including an effort he backed on behalf of Democratic Senate candidates two years ago. Scrutiny is being placed on the method of fundraising used by de Blasio’s political allies in which county committees received large contributions, with money then being transferred to individual candidate campaigns.

Investigators are probing whether the effort was part of a deliberate attempt to circumvent campaign finance contribution limits.”

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Close The Albany Brothel: Heastie And Flanagan Must Join Cuomo To Shut The LLC Loophole

Today’s Daily News editorial page urges action on the Governor’s proposal to close the LLC campaign finance loophole  as  “the governor’s eight bills give them ability to pick and choose targets.

A comprehensive bill covers all state campaigns; seven others discretely cover just about all possible iterations of campaigns for New York public office: the Legislature, Senate, Assembly, the attorney general, the controller — all with the governor included in the provisions.

At the least, Flanagan and Heastie should give Cuomo his wish, shut the loophole for gubernatorial races, and bolster confidence that governors are untainted by limitless cash. Dare they. And dare they face the truth that they’ve got nothing on the world’s oldest profession.”

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New York Election Laws Lead To Plenty Of Ballots But Little Innovation

Why does New York have so many primary and elections dates this year? In Politico NY, Bill Mahoney takes a look:

“the state gives residents plenty of opportunities to take time out of their busy days to wait in long lines to cast their ballots. Residents of Albany County, for example, will have the opportunity to cast ballots on six occasions this year: In February, they voted on a school construction funding referendum, in April they cast ballots in the state’s presidential primary, in May there’s the vote for the school budget, in June there will be congressional primaries, in September they’ll choose candidates in primaries for state and local offices and, finally, in November they’ll vote in the general election.

This surfeit of elections may delight stalwart citizens who enjoy exercising their franchise, but it’s not without drawbacks. Most estimates peg the cost to counties of each extra statewide primary at somewhere between $25 million and $50 million.

And it’s likely that each additional election lowers turnout, even among the hardiest voters.

According to data maintained by the United States Election Project, the turnout of less than 20 percent for April’s presidential primary was the second lowest among states with primaries this year. This wasn’t a one-time blemish, either: The state Bar Association has concluded that New York ranks 47th in turnout. To illustrate the point, only about 3 percent of Democrats showed up for Nassau County’s 2015 district attorney election.”

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Democratic Convention’s New York Delegate List

With a tip of the hat to NY Politico, here’s a link to a list of New York’s Democratic Convention delegates



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Cuomo Presents Eight Options For Closing The LLC Loophole

In the Times Union, Casey Seiler reports that “Gov. Andrew Cuomo is introducing eight separate bills covering the governor and — singly or in combination — differing sets of statewide and legislative offices. The bills would apply to:

1. Everyone (all candidates for state political office)
2. Candidates for Governor and the State Legislature
3. Candidates for Governor and State Senate
4. Candidates for Governor and State Assembly
5. Candidates for Governor, the Attorney General and the Comptroller
6. Candidates for Governor and the Attorney General
7. Candidates for Governor and the Comptroller
8. Candidates for Governor

Each measure “requires that limited liability corporations be treated as traditional corporations, capping contributions at $5,000,” according to the administration’s release. “The bills would prevent LLCs from circumventing disclosure requirements and ensure that businesses do not wield an outsized influence in politics and elections across the state.”

From the Governor’s press release:

The LLC loophole is widely open to abuse – with companies regularly taking advantage of the gap in state law to set up numerous LLCs to donate millions of dollars to political campaigns, candidates for public office and elected officials in New York.

For several years, Governor Cuomo has introduced legislation to close the LLC loophole. These calls have not resulted in a change in law. Since 2010, 14 separate bills have been introduced in the State Legislature to close the LLC loophole.

The Governor believes we need one set of rules for everyone running for office in New York. This year, the Governor is advancing eight bills designed to close the LLC loophole – all of which apply to candidates for Governor:

*The limitations would apply to contributions provided directly to a candidate, or through a political party, committee or organization.

The Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 is the primary law governing political campaign spending and fundraising in the United States. In 1974, the New York State Legislature overturned a ban which previously outlawed corporations from donating to political campaigns, and replaced it with a $5,000 contribution limit.

Until 1996, New York’s election law aligned with FECA and capped donations by businesses and corporations to political campaigns, while mandating full disclosure. In 1996, the New York State Board of Elections broke from federal law and ruled that LLCs may be treated as separate and distinct individuals for the purpose of campaign contributions.

The ruling allowed LLCs to contribute up to $60,800 per candidate in a statewide race or a maximum of $150,000. The law also permitted these companies to donate with increased anonymity and at far greater levels than other corporate, partnership and business entities across the state.

In April 2015, the state Board of Elections took up a vote to close the LLC loophole and issue a new ruling with regards to LLC contributions. The Board deadlocked, voting 2-2 on the issue and ultimately failing to overturn the 1996 decision.


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Cuomo Nominates Brown, Quinn To Lead State Democrats

As reported by Chris Bragg in the Times Union, Governor Cuomo is nominating new leadership for the state’s Democratic Party. The Governor’s press release reads:

“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today nominated Byron Brown, Mayor of Buffalo, to serve as Chair, and Christine Quinn, President and CEO of Women in Need, to serve as Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Committee. Mayor Brown and Christine Quinn would replace Sheila Comar, who has served as Acting Chair of the State Party since 2014.

“Mayor Brown and Christine Quinn are exemplary leaders who have dedicated their lives to making this state a fairer, more just place for all New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am confident their leadership and expertise will build on the good progress we have made, and continue advancing the core values of the Democratic Party. I thank them for their service and I look forward to working together to move this state forward.”

“Mayor Brown and Christine Quinn are exemplary leaders who have dedicated their lives to making this state a fairer, more just place for all New Yorkers,” Governor Cuomo said. “I am confident their leadership and expertise will build on the good progress we have made, and continue advancing the core values of the Democratic Party. I thank them for their service and I look forward to working together to move this state forward.”

Mayor Byron Brown, City of Buffalo, said, “I am honored to be nominated to serve as Chair of the NYS Democratic Committee. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, our State Democratic Party is energized, organized and strong. I look forward to working with Democrats across our great state, working diligently to ensure that, just as New York took the lead on implementing progressive policies like increasing the minimum wage and providing paid family leave, we elect our hometown Senator, Hillary Clinton, as the next President of the United States.”

Christine Quinn, President and CEO of WIN, said, “I am honored to be nominated to serve as Vice Chair of the NYS Democratic Committee. Working with Governor Cuomo, Mayor Brown, and others, we will work to elect the first woman president of the U.S. and we will continue New York’s progressive march forward. Together, we will build on the $15 statewide minimum wage, on the Governor’s LGBT equality efforts, on the Women’s Equality Agenda and so much more.”

In their roles as Chair and Vice Chair of the New York State Democratic Committee, Mayor Brown and Christine Quinn would help advance key Democratic Party goals, lead fundraising efforts and help elect democratic candidates to public office across the state.

Byron Brown currently serves as Mayor of the City of Buffalo. For the past decade, he has worked to revitalize downtown Buffalo, attract big business and talent to the region and stimulate economic growth. Mayor Brown previously served as a member of the New York State Senate, representing the 57th and 60th Senate Districts. Prior to that, Mayor Brown served on the Buffalo City Council from 1995 to 2001. Mayor Brown has also served as a member of Governor Cuomo’s New York Works Task Force and on the Governor’s Western New York Regional Economic Development Council.

Christine Quinn was named President and CEO of Win in 2015. Ms. Quinn is an accomplished leader with more than 20 years of experience in public service. From January 2006 to December 2013, Ms. Quinn served as Speaker of the New York City Council, representing Hell’s Kitchen, Chelsea, the West Village, and parts of Flatiron, SoHo and the Upper West Side.

Most recently, Ms. Quinn served as Special Advisor to Governor Cuomo, where she helped lead the successful effort to pass the nation’s most comprehensive law to combat sexual assault on college campuses. In 2015, she was a resident at Harvard University’s prestigious Institute of Politics. Ms. Quinn also spearheaded the creation of the Women’s Equality Party, the first women’s party in modern American history. She presently serves on the Board of Directors of Athlete Ally and on the Board of NARAL Pro Choice NY.”

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NY GOP 2016 Convention Delegate List

Newsday provides a listing of New York State’s GOP Convention delegates here.

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