Faso supports stronger ties with Israel after visit

Rep. John Faso voiced support for strengthening U.S. ties with Israel and pessimism about a “sustainable peace” with the Palestinians this week after returning from a seven-day visit to Israel with fellow House members from both parties.

The Kinderhook Republican said he and his colleagues met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli defense and economic officials; military and foreign policy experts; the opposition leader in the Israeli Knesset; and Rami Hamdallah, prime minister of the Palestinian Authority. Faso said his delegation also met with entrepreneurs in the high-tech industry, and with young Israelis serving their compulsory stint in the army.

Faso’s group was taken to the disputed Golan Heights, which Faso said Israel must continue to control. “Given Iranian and Hezbollah influence in significant parts of Syria it is all the more important that forces hostile to Israel never again have control of the Golan Heights’ strategic high ground,” he said.

“We all desire peace in the Middle East,” Faso concluded.  ”Recent political developments in the region cast doubt on the ability of the Palestinian Authority to enter into any sustainable peace treaty with Israel, especially given the malign influence of Iran and its proxies in the region. It is critical that the United States maintain its long-standing political, military and economic ties to Israel, the only democracy in the region. In Congress, I will continue to support efforts to strengthen our relationship with Israel, especially in areas such as missile defense, technology and agriculture.”

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Treasurer paroled after serving a year for campaign thefts

Former campaign treasurer and New Windsor Republican chairman Carmen Dubaldi was paroled from prison this month after serving a year for stealing $120,000 from the campaign accounts of Sen. Bill Larkin, former Orange County Executive Ed Diana and former Assemblywoman Annie Rabbitt, now the Orange County clerk.

State prison records show Dubaldi, who was sentenced to one to three years after pleading guilty to grand larceny, was released on parole from Groveland Correctional Facility – about 90 minutes east of Buffalo – on Aug. 3.

Dubaldi’s guilty plea in in August 2016 capped an embezzlement case that unfolded with suspense over more than year, with revelations in the Times Herald-Record and campaign finance filings outpacing the actual criminal investigation. Dubaldi abruptly quit as Larkin’s campaign treasurer without a public explanation in July 2015, raising suspicions that worsened as Larkin’s campaign then went weeks without filing a financial disclosure report for the first half of the year. Larkin finally announced that he had fired Dubaldi and notified authorities after “irregularities” were found.

After meeting with state officials to decide how to register thefts and lots of donations Dubaldi never disclosed, Larkin’s campaign filed a report in October 2015 showing Dubaldi had paid $10,000 in restitution – for a theft for which he had not yet been charged. Less than two months later, Diana’s treasurer told the Record that Dubaldi also had paid $61,800 in restitution to the Diana campaign.

About a week before Diana had to disclose that repayment in a public report, Ulster County prosecutors charged Dubaldi with stealing $120,000 from three campaign accounts he managed as treasurer. The investigation had been moved out of Orange County, where Dubaldi had political ties and a county job, to avoid an appearance of impropriety.

Dubaldi declared bankruptcy when he entered prison, reporting $300,000 in debts. That blocked any damage claims he could have faced in a defamation suit that a former New Winsdsor councilwoman had brought against him. Dubaldi was accused of producing a campaign ad and mailing in 2012 that used a police photo of Bonnie Brennan, taken after she was the victim of domestic abuse, to insinuate wrongly that she had a criminal record.

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Faso, Maloney statements on Charlottesville violence

Rep. John Faso issued a statement on Monday specifically condemning the white supremacist groups involved in violent clashes in Virginia last weekend, after a barrage of criticism of President Trump for blaming “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” instead of singling out obviously repugnant participants.

Faso, a Kinderhook Republican whose district includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, said: “All Americans – and particularly those in positions of leadership – must reject hate groups such as white supremacists, neo-Nazis, the KKK, and others which have no legitimate place in our political and societal discourse. I am confident that the Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute and hold accountable those responsible for the abhorrent acts which occurred in Charlottesville over the weekend.”

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, the Cold Spring Democrat who represents Orange County, knows well the pretty southern town shown on televisions over the weekend, having spent seven years in Charlottesville to get his undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia in 1988 and his law degree there in 1992.

After violence engulfed the tranquil college town on Saturday, Maloney wrote on Facebook: “As someone who was blessed to spend years living and learning in Charlottesville — one of America’s most beautiful and welcoming communities, with a history of enlightenment stretching back to Jefferson — I’m disgusted and saddened by the ugly, hateful and violent events taking place there. All decent people should demand a return to sanity and a restoration of decency and respect for others.”

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Faso will hold town hall in Ulster this month

Rep. John Faso announced Friday that he’ll hold a town hall gathering in Esopus at the end of the August congressional recess, a moderated event at which attendance will be limited to 200 people.

The forum follows a tumultuous political season in which other Republican Congress members have faced heated criticism at similar gatherings in their districts over their party’s plans to repeal and replace Obamacare. Faso said on Friday that Move Forward New York, a liberal activist group, had asked to hold a joint town hall with him in May, and that he had accepted. Both he and Move Forward each will distribute 70 tickets in advance, ensuring a mixed audience. The remaining 60 tickets will be given out at the door or a first come, first serve basis.

The event is scheduled for 6:30-8 p.m. on Aug. 31 at Esopus Town Hall. Doors open at 6 p.m. The moderators are Gerald Benjamin, a political science professor and director of The Benjamin Center at SUNY New Paltz; and Debra Clinton of Move Forward New York.

“In May, some folks from Move Forward New York approached me about doing a joint town hall event to hear from constituents in an organized and civil forum,” Faso said in a press release Friday. “Since then, our offices have been collaborating to plan and hammer out details for the event, and I am very pleased to say that we have this event scheduled for August 31 in Esopus.”

Faso, a Kinderhook Republican whose district includes Ulster and Sullivan counties, is expected to speak for 10 minutes and then take audience questions. Attendees will submit written questions and be called on to read them, with the two moderators taking turns choosing the questions. To request a ticket from Move Forward New York, email mfny19@gmail.com. To get one from Faso’s office, call 202-225-5614.

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Activist submits box of ziti to state to fight natural gas infrastructure

Pramilla Malick hold up a box of ziti toa crowd at Paramount Theatre in Middletown

Pasta has became the prop of choice in an ongoing fight by activists to try to stop a natural gas power plant and associated infrastructure from going online in Orange County.

Last week Pramilla Malick, an environmental activist with the group Protect Orange County, submitted a box of ziti pasta to the state Department of Environmental Conservation during a public hearing for a proposed natural gas pipeline that Millennium Pipeline Company wants to build.

The DEC held the public hearing last week at the Paramount Theatre in Middletown.  The 7.8-mile, $57.3 million pipeline would supply natural gas to a $900 million natural gas-fired power plant being built in Wawayanda by Competitive Power Ventures.

The DEC has yet to award Millennium a key water quality permit that would allow it to begin construction. The power plant is due to go online next year and would lack a permanent power supply without Millennium’s pipeline.

Speaking last week at a press conference that saw heavy turnout by environmental activists and concerned residents, Malick said the ziti represents what she called the “corrupt” process to approve the power plant.

“This ziti represents that we know that the approval process was corrupted,” Malick said last week. “One person has already plead guilty to bribery, we don’t need to know more about this.”

Malick then submitted the box of ziti to the DEC.

Federal protectors have said that “ziti” was a code word used during a corruption scheme involving a former CPV executive. Prosecutors said beginning in 2010 Peter Galbraith Kelly Jr., who oversaw external affairs for CPV, worked to ingratiate himself Joe Percoco, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Todd Howe, a former Albany consultant who pleaded guilty in September 2016 and is cooperating with federal prosecutors.

Prosecutors said Howe looked to Percoco to influence the former state operations director to bolster the proposed CPV power plant. In emails between Howe and Percoco, they refer to bribe payments as “ziti,” an apparent homage to the television show “The Sopranos,” prosecutors said. Kelly is accused of providing $287,000 in bribes.

Kelly and Percoco have pleaded not guilty and neither CPV nor Millennium have been implicated in the federal corruptions charges. But activists have seized on the criminal case as a reason to stop the power plant and the infrastructure needed to allow it to go online.

CPV has said the federal case centers on activities that are unrelated to its plant’s permitting process and that charges don’t call that process or plant permits into question.

Activists also went up to Albany on Thursday to host a rally and call on Cuomo to stop the process for the pipeline and the power plant. Activists were asked to bring boxes of ziti as a rallying cry. Malick word a ziti necklace around her neck.

“Our message to Cuomo,” the invitation said. “Take back the ziti and give our children their air, water, and future back.”

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Faso plans veterans event in Sullivan next week

Rep. John Faso plans to be at the SUNY Sullivan campus with staff members and various experts for four hours next Thursday to help veterans find health care, jobs and other services.

The Veterans Assistance Fair will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the community college’s student union, at 112 College Road in Loch Sheldrake. Faso is a Columbia County Republican whose district includes Sullivan and Ulster counties.

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Maloney plans three-day fundraising “retreat”

For big-dollar campaign donors, this has got to sound better than a rubber-chicken dinner in D.C.

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney is inviting supporters to what amounts to a destination wedding for the congressional fundraising world: a three-day “retreat” in his Hudson Valley district in October, in the midst of leaf-peeping season.

An early announcement for the Cold Spring Democrat’s “Inaugural Hudson Valley Retreat” gives only the dates and the name of the boutique hotel, restaurant and banquet hall in Beacon that apparently will serve as the home base from which guests will take regional excursions. Tickets to the Oct. 14-16 sojourn at the Roundhouse Beacon cost $2,500 a person, just under the $2,700 individual contribution limit for congressional races.

Maloney, who’s serving his third term in Congress, had $2.6 million in his campaign account as of June 30 and has no announced challengers yet for 2018. He represents New York’s 18th Congressional District, which includes all of Orange and Putnam counties and parts of Dutchess and Westchester.

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Sutz and Palermo will vie in Dem primary for Woodbury supervisor

Woodbury Supervisor David Sutz and town Councilman Frank Palermo will square off in a Democratic primary for a two-year supervisor term on Sept. 12, a contest that probably will decide the race since no Republican candidate is running.

Sutz, a former Woodbury village trustee, was elected supervisor in 2015, ousting Republican Ralph Caruso after his one year in office. Palermo had served as acting supervisor for several months in 2014 after John Burke, the Democrat who had long held that office, died unexpectedly.

The town Democratic Committee announced this week it had endorsed Palermo and two Town Board running mates, Amidee Haviland lll and Jacqueline Hernandez. Haviland, a former councilman, and Hernandez are competing with Councilman Robert Hunter and village Planning Board member Sandra Capriglione for two, four-year councilman seats on the Town Board.

Palermo and Hernandez also are running for office on the Independence Party line, so both will be on the Nov. 7 general election ballot regardless of the Democratic primary outcome. None of the other Town Board contenders have third-party lines as a fallback, although candidates have until Aug. 22 to submit independent petitions for the general election.

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DCCC launches Google ad campaign against Faso

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is targeting freshman Republican Rep. John Faso and 24 other Republicans in a digital campaign that aims to drive Google searches to a website that demands Faso hold a town hall-style meeting.

The Google search advertisements will be targeted to people’s locations and attached to a wide array of search terms relating to the lawmaker, district, health care and town halls, according to the DCCC.

The advertisements for Faso will take people to Fasotownhallwatch.com. The website says at the top “404 no town halls found” and has a countdown clock to when the DCCC says the last town hall-style public meeting was held. It also has links to news articles or opinion pieces about Faso, an invitation to email Faso’s campaign to demand a town hall meeting, and links to tweet or post on Facebook.

The ads will run from Aug. 8 to Sept. 5.

“If House Republicans are heartless enough to take away healthcare from their constituents but too scared to face them at public town halls, they don’t deserve to be in Congress,” said DCCC Spokesman Evan Lukaske. “This digital ad campaign exposes Representative Faso while he’s home on recess and empowers people to hold him accountable.”

On July 31, Faso’s campaign spokesman, John Lange, said they expected to make an announcement shortly about August events.

“In the meantime, Congressman Faso continues to meet with constituents, with over 400 one-on-one and group meetings in which constituents successfully advocated for their positions taken since January,” Lange said.

Though no public town hall-style events have been announced from Faso’s office yet, on Monday Faso’s office announced that the congressman was leaving that day for a seven-day trip to Israel to “join a bipartisan delegation of Congress to learn firsthand the complex challenges facing the region.”

Faso has also participated in editorial boards with newspapers, is due to appear at a Dutchess County Chamber of Commerce event next Wednesday, has appeared on the local WAMC radio call-in show and appeared in smaller invite-only events.

The DCCC campaign comes as the 19th Congressional District, which includes Ulster and Sullivan counties,  has become a prime national target for Democrats to win back Congress and for Republicans to defend. So far, eight Democrats have said they want to take on Faso next year and two of those candidates outraised Faso from May to June. Nearly $2.5 million has poured into campaign coffers so far this year.

The DCCC isn’t the only group targeting Faso online. As we reported yesterday, a progressive group called Save My Care announced it would launch a separate digital advertisements in 10 states against Republicans who voted for the GOP’s health care repeal plan, including Faso.

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Left-leaning NY-19 political action committee raises nearly $32,000

A Kingston-based political action committee called “NY19Votes” has raised nearly $32,000 in its push to turn the 19th Congressional District blue.

According to its website, NY19Votes is a grassroots group that “grew from the #Resistance and Indivisible movement after the November election.” They said they’ve already brought together nearly 400 volunteers at 12 launch sites across the 19th Congressional District and organized more than 1,000 volunteers to knock on doors.

The district, represented by freshman Rep. John Faso, R-Kinderhook, includes part or all of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan.

“NY19Votes is uniting #Resistance, Indivisible, SwingLeft and long standing activist groups, Democratic and Working Families Party members and concerned citizens across the district. We know if we are going to turn back Trump, defeat Faso in 2018 and win our country back we have to get out and talk to voters now through election day 2018. NY19Votes (is) coordinating, training and deploying volunteers to do just that,” the PAC said in a release.

In its mid-year campaign report filed with the Federal Election Commission, the group said it raised $31,712.62, spent $6,149.90 and had $25,562.72 on hand. The group registered with the FEC in April. The group said it had 164 donors in all.

FEC records show that about 63 percent of the money raised, $20,000, came from just two sources in Manhattan. Eric Marcus, an author, gave $10,000 and Barney Karpfinger, a founder of a literary agency, also gave $10,000. Karpfinger has also contributed this year to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and the campaigns of Democrats Jon Ossoff and Rob Quist, House candidates who lost tight races in Republican stronghold districts.

The PAC also received $1,000 from Brian Flynn, one of eight Democratic contenders looking to take on Faso in the election next year.

Dustin Reidy, campaign director for NY19Votes,  said funding will go towards staff, logistics for putting together canvassing and maintaining its website and social media presence.

“If we’re able to fundraise well, we’re hoping to build our staff out after November and help maintain pressure on Faso as the Democratic primary heats up,” Reidy said.

Reidy said NY19Votes won’t support or endorse any primary candidate, but the infrastructure they’re building will go into the campaign of whoever does win.

The fundraising comes as the 19th Congressional District has become a prime national target for Democrats to win back Congress, and for Republicans to defend. Two of the eight Democratic candidates outraised Faso from May to June and nearly $2.5 million has poured into campaign coffers so far this year.

But Faso’s fundraising is expected to pick up as the November 2018 general election approaches, and other outside groups have already jumped into the race.

On Tuesday, a progressive group called Save My Care announced it was launching digital advertisements in 10 states against Republicans who voted for the GOP’s health care repeal plan, including Faso. You can find their digital ad here.

Chris Martin, spokesman for the National Republican Campaign Committee, defended Faso’s vote.

“Only in Washington is it considered a bad thing to actually keep your promises. Congressman Faso took action because the Obamacare death spiral continues to dramatically increase premiums and restrict healthcare choices for millions of Americans,” Martin said.

The  five-figure advertisement buy will also target senators Jeff Flake of Arizona, Dean Heller of Nevada, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and House members Dave Brat of Virginia, Darrell Issa of California, Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, Peter Roskam of Illinois, Pete Sessions of Texas and David Valadao of California.

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