Maloney challenges intelligence official about withholding Trump whistleblower complaint

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney played a role this week in the televised questioning of a top intelligence official about the internal complaint that had just lit a fuse in Washington, propelling House Democrats into an impeachment inquiry against President Trump.

Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat who serves on the House Intelligence Committee, got his turn during the testimony on Thursday of Joseph Maguire, the acting director of national intelligence. Maguire had received a whistleblower’s complaint reporting that Trump had asked the Ukrainian president to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son, and had talked about American military aid to Ukraine during the same phone call. Macguire withheld the report from Congress after consulting with the White House and the office of Attorney General William Barr, who was named in the complaint.

Maloney wanted to know why Macguire had asked two subjects of the complaint for permission to forward it.

“My question, sir, was when you were considering prudence did you think it was prudent to give a veto power over whether the Congress saw this serious allegation of wrong doing to the two people implicated by it,” Maloney asked. “Is that prudent?”

Maguire responded: “I have to work with the situation the way it is, Congressman Maloney. Only the White House can determine or waive executive privilege. There is no one else to go to. And as far as a second opinion, my only avenue of that was to go to the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.”

Maloney came back: “And you understand, sir, that if unchallenged by your own Inspector General, your decision, that prudence, would have prevented these serious allegations from ever reaching Congress?”

Maloney went on to ask Macguire several times if he had discussed the report directly with Trump, which Macguire said he couldn’t answer because his conversations with the president are confidential.

Maloney had joined the growing ranks of impeachment supporters two days earlier after the Ukraine controversy erupted, with the caveat that he would back such an inquiry unless recordings of Trump’s phone calls with the Ukrainian president and the whistleblower complaint were given to the Intelligence Committee and proved exculpatory. A rough transcript of a July call and the complaint have since been made public.

The Republican planning to challenge Maloney for the 18th District seat next year blasted Maloney for supporting impeachment on Tuesday, and fired additional shots after the releases of the transcript and complaint.

“The whistleblower complaint released yesterday has been completely debunked by the original transcript of the phone call between President Trump and Ukrainian President Zelensky,” Republican candidate Chele Chiavacci Farley said in a statement on Friday. “There was no quid pro quo. It is reprehensible to watch members of Congress shamelessly push false information, despite evidence to the contrary.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Cuomo signs bill to ease switching parties

New York voters will have more time to change their political parties to participate in next year’s primaries under a bill signed Thursday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

State law previously would have required New Yorkers to file forms to switch their party enrollments before Oct. 11 to vote in that party’s presidential primary next April or its state and congressional primaries that June, if they had been registered with a different party or had no party affiliation. The new law gives them until Feb. 14 – 10 weeks before the presidential primary – to join a new party and have that take effect for the primaries, which are open only to voters enrolled in the party holding the nominating contest.

“Voting should be simple and easy,” Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, a City of Newburgh Democrat who sponsored the bill, said in a statement from Cuomo’s office. “During this year’s session, the Legislature passed many significant voting reforms, including early voting. The bill that Governor Cuomo signed today dramatically extends the time for voters to change their party enrollment.”

The Legislature passed the bill in party-line votes – Democrats in support, Republicans in opposition – on the final days of the legislative session in June.

Cuomo said of the bill: “While the federal administration continues to look for new ways to disenfranchise voters across the country, in New York we are making monumental changes to break down more barriers to the ballot box and encourage more people to exercise this fundamental right.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Michelle Hinchey announces state Senate campaign

The daughter of the late congressman Maurice Hinchey kicked off her campaign on Monday to run next year for the state Senate seat held by George Amedore, a Rotterdam Republican whose district includes part of Ulster County.

Michelle Hinchey, who made her announcement in Kingston with Rep. Antonio Delgado, will be running in the 46th Senate District, which takes in eight towns and the City of Kingston in Ulster County and all or parts of four counties to the north. Amedore has held the seat since 2014 and is serving his third term. Democrats hold the enrollment edge in the district.

Another Democrat, Jeffrey Collins of Woodstock, also plans to run for Amedore’s Senate seat in 2020. He and Hinchey will compete in a primary next June if both stay in the race.

Maurice Hinchey, a Democrat known for his environmental causes, represented parts of the Hudson Valley and Catskills in Congress for 20 years, and in the Assembly for 18 years before then. He retired in 2012, when his district was eliminated through redistricting, and died in 2017 at age 79.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Republicans denounce campaign finance panel

Two Republican assemblymen from the mid-Hudson teed off this week on the state panel that is devising a plan for voluntary public financing for political campaigns in New York, a system that could take effect through that body without having to go before the Legislature for a vote.

“It’s bad enough Democrats in Albany want to control our money, now they want to vote for us too,” Assemblyman Karl Brabenec of Deerpark said in a statement on Thursday, when the commission met. “It’s no surprise Assembly Democrats kicked the decision to publicly fund political campaigns to a third party commission – washing their hands of this dangerous and unnecessary proposal.”

The purpose of providing public funds to match candidates’ small campaign donations is to wrest control of campaigns from big donors and enable more people to wage competitive races. Brabenec said he supported “making it easier for qualified citizens to run for office,” but doesn’t want taxpayers to foot a bill that could be up to $100 million.

“Our taxes are high enough and the last thing we should be reaching into residents’ wallets for is to fund political campaigns,” Brabenec said, warning of potential abuses as well.

Assemblyman Colin Schmitt of New Windsor took issue with the commission also looking at the elimination of fusion voting in New York, and news reports that a Cuomo appointee on the panel – state Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs – had recruited speakers to oppose fusion voting during a hearing. Fusion voting allows candidates to run on one or more third-party ballot lines in addition to a major-party line.

“As we have known from the beginning the ‘Commission on Public Financing’ is a smokescreen to advance a partisan political agenda and subvert the constitutional authority of the state legislature to debate and set state law and policy,” Schmitt said in a statement.

“Regardless of where you stand on campaign financing, the publicly elected and publicly accountable members of the Assembly and Senate should debate and vote on any and all decisions that change our political process, not unaccountable politically connected insiders.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skoufis aces report card for environmental bills

State Sen. James Skoufis had a perfect score on the latest report card by the New York League of Conservation Voters, an annual analysis by the environmental group on how all 213 state lawmakers voted on bills it was following in the last session in Albany.

Skoufis, a Woodbury Democrat, voted the group’s preferred way on all 16 Senate bills they tracked for the rankings in the 2019 session, which ran from January to June. Most were proposals that the NYLCV supported for environmental reasons, such as the state’s ambitious new goals for slashing carbon emissions and a prohibition on offshore drilling.

Skoufis, in a statement touting his score, pointed out that he introduced one of the bills the group was highlighting, which will require the state to maintain and make public a 20-year plan for its transportation improvements. He also noted he was part of a small group of legislators that helped develop the climate change plan.

“I am and will always be committed to fighting for the future of our environment,” Skoufis said. “Environmental issues encompass almost every other issue that affects New Yorkers each day. Not only as a coastal state but as a duty to all generations, as we move forward, we must prioritize environmental policy first and foremost. I thank the League of Conservation Voters for holding legislators accountable and continuing to strive for a safe and healthy environment for all.” 

Many other Democrats, though not nearly all, also scored 100 percent, while most Republicans voted against several of the bills and scored much lower, as low as 22 percent and 33 percent in a few cases. Here are how the other nine senators and Assembly members representing pieces of Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties fared on the report card:

Sen. Jen Metzger, D-Rosendale: 94 percent

Sen. James Seward, R-Milford: 61 percent

Sen. George Amedore, R-Rotterdam: 44 percent

Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, D-City of Newburgh: 72 percent

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston: 78 percent

Assemblyman Brian Miller, R-New Hartford: 50 percent

Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther, D-Foretburgh: 83 percent

Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, R-New Windsor: 67 percent

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, R-Deerpark: 44 percent

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Farley campaign holds Tuxedo Park fundraiser

Republican congressional candidate Chele Chiavacci Farley will hold a campaign fundraiser on Saturday in Tuxedo Park, the village in which she and her family have settled as she prepares to challenge Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney for New York’s 18th Congressional District seat next year.

An invitation distributed by Tuxedo Park Mayor David McFadden suggests guests and supporters contribute $250, $1,000 or $2,800 per person, which is the federal limit, or up to $11,200 per couple to hit the maximum for both a primary and a general election (Farley has no Republican primary rival at this stage). The fundraiser is taking place at the home of Barbara and Peter Regna.

“We need Chele in Congress to stand up to the Washington elite and vote for the things we support,” McFadden and his wife, Robin, say in the invitation email, which notes that the Farleys are their neighbors. “Furthermore, we need Congress to work together to get things done – Chele will make that a priority.”

Farley and her husband, Richard, rented a house in Tuxedo Park earlier this year, shortly before she announced her 2020 run for the 18th District seat. The private-equity executive had lived in Manhattan for 26 years before then. She challenged Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for her seat last year, an uphill battle that Gillibrand won by 34 percentage points.

McFadden waged his own bid for Congress in 2010, competing with three other Republicans and stepping aside without a primary after committee members endorsed Nan Hayworth, a Westchester County eye doctor. Hayworth went on to unseat Democrat John Hall that November, only to lose her seat two years later to Maloney, who is now in his fourth term.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dems seek to block shift in military funds to build border wall

Democratic lawmakers from New York are pushing for bill language to stop the Trump administration from moving military construction funds to extend the Mexican border wall, as it just did with $160 million that was supposed to pay for a new engineering building and parking garage at West Point.

In a joint letter this week, Sens. Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand and Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney urged Senate and House committee leaders from both parties to keep two clauses to protect previously approved projects in a major defense bill for the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. The Democratic-controlled House had included that language in its National Defense Authorization Act in July; it was not in the bill version the Republican-led Senate passed two weeks earlier. Conferees from both chambers must now negotiate the final bill.

The Trump administration announced this month it was shifting $3.6 billion Congress had allocated for 127 military construction projects to fund the border wall, including a $95 million engineering center and $65 million garage that were scheduled to be built next year at the U.S. Military Academy. President Trump had declared an emergency earlier in the year to allow the fund transfer, which prompted House Democrats to try to preserve funding for all military projects authorized since 2015 through the defense bill.

“The targeted military construction projects, including the Engineering Center at West Point, have undergone a thorough review process by the military and by Congress and were determined necessary for military operations, unlike the border wall,” Schumer, Gillibrand and Maloney wrote in their joint letter on Monday in support of the House language.

According to a fundraising brochure, the Cyber & Engineering Academic Center at West Point would be 130,000 square feet and would allow the academy to deliver inter-disciplinary courses in science, technology, engineering and mathematics that aren’t feasible in the 50-year-old classroom spaces used today.

“It is critical that West Point has modern facilities to deliver engineering and cyber education programs that anticipate Army needs and prepare our leaders for that future environment,” read the brochure from the West Point Association of Graduates. “Our facilities are not keeping pace with these changes and we are currently well behind our peers.”

It was unclear if funding for the engineering center could be restored if Congress approved the bill language that the two senators and Maloney supported (and if Trump signed a bill with those clauses, which seemed dubious).

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Pols from both parties pay tribute to Larkin

Warm tributes to former state Sen. Bill Larkin poured in from Republicans and Democrats alike upon learning of his death at home in Cornwall-on-Hudson over the weekend, each praising the 91-year-old Republican for his dedication to his constituents and fellow veterans during his 40 years as a state lawmaker.

U.S. Sen. Schumer, a Democrat whose political career also dates back to the 1970s and briefly overlapped with Larkin’s when both were assemblymen in 1979 and 1980, tweeted that he was “deeply saddened” to hear of Larkin’s death, calling him “an honorable man, legislator and veteran.”

“He was an advocate for all veterans, champion for the Hudson Valley, and will be deeply missed,” Schumer said on Twitter.

Below are other statements, in addition to those published in the Times Herald-Record on Monday, from elected officials and others about an accessible and well-liked politician who represented part of the Hudson Valley in Albany for four decades and had become an institution by the time he retired last year.

“Today, we lost a great American hero and friend, State Senator William J. Larkin. My condolences go out to his wife Pat and his entire family. I’ve had the honor of knowing Senator Larkin for over 25 years. He was a good friend and mentor. I worked with Senator Larkin on many projects and he was always there to give me helpful advice and assisted me to be an effective legislator. His positive impact on our community will be felt for many years and never forgotten. Thank you Senator for you friendship and your service to our state and country! – Assemblyman Karl Brabenec, R-Deerpark

“He was a masterful politician, someone who treated everybody with respect no matter what their party. My thoughts are with his family.” – Assemblyman Jonathan Jacobson, D-City of Newburgh

“Nikki and I mourn the loss of Senator William J. Larkin, Jr. Senator Larkin served with integrity and distinction for decades of his life in the US Army and in state and local elective office. Senator Larkin was a direct participant in many prominent moments of modern American and New York history. His legacy of selfless service set the standard for others to follow and be measured by. Our thoughts are with Pat and the entire Larkin family. I know our entire region will mourn Senator Larkin in the coming days and always rejoice in his legacy.” – Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, R-New Windsor

“I considered myself very privileged to serve along and next to Bill Larkin for 22 years in New York state government. His passing will be a great loss to our country and to everyone he served.” – Former Assemblywoman Nancy Calhoun, R-Blooming Grove

“Senator Bill Larkin was a character larger than life.  His tenure in office will be noted as one dedicated to constituent service and providing for the communities he served above all else.  He set the bar high and then insisted that each of us exceed it. My deepest sympathies to his wife Pat, his entire family and in particular, to his son Bill, who the Colonel often reminded me was my much more successful classmate from Albany Law. A contemporary of my Mom, Maryalice Cahill, Bill Larkin truly was part of the greatest generation.  May he rest in peace.” – Assemblyman Kevin Cahill, D-Kingston

“Word of Bill Larkin’s passing comes with great sadness. He was the quintessential public servant. If it was important to his constituents, there was no issue too big or too small for which Bill would not fight in order to improve life for all of us. Among the countless issues on Bill’s agenda in Albany, education was right there at the top. He was a tremendous friend to SUNY Orange, and his imprint on our College will be felt for generations. He helped shape our vision of how SUNY Orange can more effectively serve students in Newburgh and throughout Orange County. Additionally, his backing of our BRIDGES program allowed us to create needed educational opportunities for students who might not otherwise have had access to college. All of us at SUNY Orange are grateful for Bill’s friendship and support.” – SUNY Orange President Kristine Young

“The Satmar Community of Kiryas Joel/ Town of Palm Tree sends its sincere condolences to the family of State Senator Bill Larkin who passed away today. Senator Larkin represented us and was a trusted friend to our community! He will be missed.” – Village of Kiryas Joel (via “Satmar Headquarters” on Twitter)

“There has been no finer statesman for the Hudson Valley over the past 4 decades than Senator Bill Larkin. Our area has been blessed to have been represented by such a humble, kind and caring person. He embodied all that is good about humanity: his heroism, his tireless passion for those who lived in New York, the devotion to his country and his advocacy for veterans across our nation – which forever will live on in the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor in New Windsor. The Town of Monroe is extremely grateful for all of Senator Larkin’s support over the years. Our prayers go out to his wife Patricia and his family.” – Town of Monroe Supervisor Tony Cardone

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Delgado bill on debt-relief for family farmers becomes law

President Trump has signed a bipartisan bill sponsored by Rep. Antonio Delgado that will enable more family farms to restructure their debts through bankruptcy by raising the limit on debt that qualifies for protection from creditors.

“Today is a victory for our small and mid-size farmers who now have the flexibility to reorganize their debt and continue operations in what continues to be a challenging time for agriculture,” Delgado, D-Rhinebeck, said in a statement last Sunday, after Trump signed the Family Farmer Relief Act. “In this era of bitter partisanship, I was proud to lead my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to pass a bipartisan, commonsense bill to help small farmers in New York’s 19th Congressional District during this down farm economy.”

The bill raises the debt limit to $10 million from $3.2 million for farmers applying for Chapter 12 bankruptcy.  Delgado’s office says the increase reflects the increase in land values and average farm size in the U.S. since the original limit was set.

The House bill had 27 co-sponsors from both parties, including Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-Cold Spring. Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa sponsored the Senate version.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skoufis bill would block $25 license-plate replacement fee

A new bill by state Sen. James Skoufis would allow New Yorkers to keep their license plates if they’re still legible, overriding a recently announced policy that has ruffled feathers by requiring drivers to buy replacements for $25 apiece if their plates are at least 10 years old.

New Yorkers would have to pay the state an additional $20 to keep their old plates under the Department of Motor Vehicles policy, which is set to begin on April 1 and has stirred friction between the Cuomo administration and lawmakers from both parties.

“I’m deeply opposed to the recent announcement that New Yorkers will soon have to spend money to replace their license plates with a new design,” Skoufis said in a Facebook statement. “The nickel and diming of state residents by the DMV and other state agencies has to stop. That’s why I’m introducing legislation to block this latest move.”

Following weeks of criticism, DMV Commissioner Mark Schroeder released a long, testy statement on Friday that accused legislators of “hypocrisy and misstatements” and “seeking cheap press hits.” He defended the $25 charge for new plates by saying it was established in 2009, two years before Cuomo took office, and challenged lawmakers to return to Albany for a special session to lower that fee, which he said Cuomo supports doing.

He also pointed out that plate numbers must be readable by toll cameras, and invited lawmakers to devise an inspection system to make sure a vehicle’s plates can still be read after 10 years of life. Plates that can’t be discerned and billed cost the state money in toll revenue, he said.

“The 10 year life replacement program does not go into effect until next April so we have time to work with the legislature to explore alternatives,” Schroeder said. “We support reducing costs wherever possible.”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
  • Categories

  • Archives