Brabenec blasts NY’s “tax and spend problem”

Assemblyman Karl Brabenec pounced this week on the Tax Foundation’s latest ranking of tax levels in every state, calling New York’s ranking as second worst in the U.S. another confirmation of the state’s “tax and spend problem.”

“This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who has lived in this state for more than a few years,” the Deerpark Republican said in a press release. “New York has a tax and spend problem far beyond the situation in other states, and to make that worse state leaders continually drive out businesses in favor for new companies run by the politically connected, who in turn receive tax-free amnesty for a decade.

Brabenec called the departure of companies like General Electric evidence that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s economic development efforts aren’t working. He touted two bills he said would be more helpful, one of which would give school districts the ability to ask the state to take over their property-tax levies.

“I talk to business owners all the time in my district who tell me it’s up to 18 percent cheaper to operate across the river in neighboring Pennsylvania than in New York, and that is a shameful reflection on our state’s leadership,” he said.

The Tax Foundation report ranked New York 49th in the U.S. in overall tax climate, with only New Jersey have a worse one. New York’s corporate taxes were relatively low, ranking 7th among states, but its individual, sales and property taxes were among the highest in the country.


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Brisee exits race for NY19 seat

Steven Brisee confirmed Friday that he has ended his campaign for New York’s 19th Congressional District, departing the crowded field of Democrats hoping to take on Republican Rep. John Faso in 2018 when he makes his first re-election run.

Brisee, a 27-year-old from Walden, had gotten an early jump on the race, registering as a candidate in December before Faso had even taken office. But he hadn’t raised any money, and he ran into some legal problems last month when he was arrested in two counties for allegedly shoplifting from a Kohl’s and crashing in an empty house without the owner’s permission.

Brisee said by email on Friday that that he was leaving the race for “a multitude of reasons not the least of which being the fact that my campaign is so poor, I’d be better off standing on a street corner in Kingston holding a sign reading ‘will represent districts best economic and social interests for food.’”

He said he will work now on “helping to make sure that whichever extraordinary democratic candidate wins the nomination, they ultimately go on to succeed next November against Congressman Faso.”

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Lujan endorsed by progressive group in run for OC Legislature

Kevindaryán Luján, who is seeking to represent the City of Newburgh and part of the Town of Newburgh in the Orange County Legislature, has been endorsed by Run for Something, a national organization set up to support progressive political candidates under 35.

Lujan, who last month bested Omari Shakur in a Democratic Party primary for the Legislature’s District 4 seat, was among a slate of 37 new candidates nationwide endorsed by Run for Something this week. The organization’s leadership is filled with veterans from campaigns by Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and other Democratic politicians.

“Run For Something is an incredible organization pushing for young people to run for office,” said Lujan, a 30-year-old community organizer and City of Newburgh resident. “I am honored to have their endorsement in my run for County Legislator.

Lujan will carry the Democratic and Working Families lines for next month’s general election. He will face Anthony Tarsio, part of the family that owns the Pat Tarsio Lanes bowling alley in the Town of Newburgh. Tarsio will carry the Conservative, Independence and Republican lines for the election.

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Neuhaus, Davis debate in Middletown on Wednesday

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus and Democratic challenger Patrick Davis will square off on Wednesday in their first and perhaps only public debate before their election contest less than two weeks later.

The debate is from 7-9 p.m. at Twin Towers Middle School, 112 Grand Ave. in Middletown. The Orange County Citizens Foundation organized the event in collaboration with five other organizations.

Neuhaus, a Republican and former Chester town supervisor serving his first term as county executive, and Davis, an Iraq war veteran and Monroe resident who advises financial services clients for the firm PwC in Manhattan, are vying for a four-year term as county executive on Nov. 7.

Each candidate will give a two-minute opening statement, and have 90 seconds to respond to questions and 30 seconds for rebuttals. The moderator is Larry Force, director of The Center on Aging and Policy at Mount Saint Mary College.

Neuhaus and Davis also are scheduled to debate earlier that day before the Times Herald-Record editorial board in Middletown.

Davis, who’s running for office for the first time, announced endorsements over the last week from VoteVets, a progressive group focused on veterans issues; 314 Action, a group supporting scientists and engineers running for office (Davis has two engineering degrees); New York Progressive Action Network and its local affiliate, Principled Progressives of Orange County; the Latino Democratic Committee of Orange County; and Assemblyman James Skoufis, D-Woodbury.

Neuhaus previously has announced endorsements from the Civil Service Employees Association, the union representing the bulk of the county workforce, in addition to the following: Hudson Catskill Central Labor Council, the Hudson Valley Building and Trades Council, the Hudson Valley Area Labor Federation AFL-CIO, Uniformed Firefighters Association of the New York City Fire Department, Uniformed Fire Officers Association of the New York City Fire Department, the Orange County Deputy Sheriff’s Police Benevolent Association and the Orange County District Attorney’s Investigators Union.



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Rhodes starts RV tour of 19th District

Congressional candidate Gareth Rhodes took to the road in a Winnebago this week, saying he plans to navigate his RV through all 163 towns and cities in New York’s sprawling 19th District to talk to voters as he seeks support for a run next year.

Rhodes, one of six Democrats competing to challenge Republican Rep. John Faso in 2018, released a video announcing his RV journey (“The Rhodes Trip”) on Tuesday in which he emphasizes his Ulster County roots – raised on a farm in Esopos in a Bruderhof family, graduated  from Kingston High School in 2006, worked the counter at Frank’s Village Market & Deli in Marlboro. Only 29 years old, Rhodes was a deputy press secretary for Gov. Andrew Cuomo from 2011 to 2015 and is currently on leave from Harvard Law School, where he has completed two years.

Rhodes started his ride in Kingston and said he’ll accompany local and county candidates for the next few weeks as they campaign for the Nov. 7 elections. He plans to continue touring the district up through next June, when the  Democrats who remain in the 19th District race will compete in a primary.

“Unlike John Faso and the typical politicians who only pop up in your mailbox or on your TV, I’ll be coming to you in person – to your door, your local diner, your farm, your firehouse – talking about why I’m so hopeful for our future,” he said in a press release.

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Two NY19 Dems raised more than Faso in third quarter (updated x 3)

Two of the Democrats hoping to challenge freshman Rep. John Faso for New York’s 19th Congressional District seat  next year raised more campaign money than the Republican congressman in the last three months, according to financial reports filed in the last several days.

Antonio Delgado led the field with $402,336 in donations for the third quarter of 2017, followed by Patrick Ryan with $376,478. Faso reported raising $280,502 during that same period.

Two other Democrats courting party support and financial backers to take on Faso in 2018 also reported significant totals. Gareth Rhodes raised $162,184, and Jeffrey Beals raised $110,897.

Here’s how much those candidates had in their coffers after expenses as of Sept. 30: Delgado, $880,621; Faso, $572,312; Ryan, $521,656; Rhodes, $256,446; and Beals, $82,368.

A fifth Democrat in the race, Brian Flynn, previously had lent his campaign $500,000 of his own money and reported $715,967 on hand as of June 30. His campaign says it filed its third-quarter finance report on Sunday, but it’s not available on the Federal Election Commission website yet.

(Update: Flynn’s report, now available, shows he raised $111,037, donated $30,000 of his own money and loaned his campaign another $150,000. He finished the reporting period with $911,363 in his account after expenses, the most of any of the candidates.)

(Update #2: Dave Clegg, yet another Democrat angling to run against Faso next year, reported raising $107,181 and lending his campaign $110,000 in the third quarter, leaving him with $179,543 in his coffers as of Sept. 30. His financial report was not initially available on the FEC website.)

(Update #3: It should be noted that Beals’ campaign income included a $56,000 he loaned the campaign, and donations totaled $54,897.)

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Maloney holds “millennial town hall” at SUNY Orange tonight

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney will hold a town hall gathering at SUNY Orange in Middletown tonight to talk with younger constituents about issues such as student loan debt and climate change and listen to their concerns about happenings in Washington.

The discussion, dubbed a “millennial town hall,” will take place from 7-9 p.m. in Room 111 of Harriman Hall at 115 South St.

Maloney, a Cold Spring Democrat whose district includes all of Orange County, will be in New Windsor immediately before the SUNY Orange event to talk with his agriculture advisory board about the renewal of the federal farm bill that Congress will soon take up.

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Cuomo gives up Weinstein donations after GOP rebuke

Gov. Andrew Cuomo agreed on Thursday to give away all $111,400 in campaign donations Harvey Weinstein has given him after Republicans skewered the governor for trying to part with only part of his contributions from the Hollywood mogul and accused sexual predator.

Basile Smikle, the head of the state Democratic Party, announced the decision on Thursday night, condemning the “horrid” abuse allegations against Weinstein while accusing Republicans of exploiting the issue of Weinstein’s campaign donations to Democrats “to score political points.” Cuomo initially had agreed to donate the $50,000 his campaign had most recently gotten from Weinstein to women’s groups, and argued he couldn’t give away $60,000 in older donations because that money had been spent – even though he had about $26 million in his campaign account as of July.

Republicans had hammered Cuomo until then, firing off their latest statement shortly before Smikle sent his. The Republican National Committee’s updated list of Weinstein’s beneficiaries showed that most had returned or donated their cash, including New York’s two senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirstin Gillibrand. Cuomo, who had gotten more Weinstein money than any other individual politician, was one of the few still holding onto his cash, if only part of it.

The state Republican Party had raked Cuomo with criticism a day earlier. “In the dictionary next to the word hypocrisy is a picture of Andrew Cuomo,” party spokeswoman Jessica Proud said in a press release. “Democrats across the country have had the sense to give the money back, but not Governor Cuomo. What kind of message does it send to women and victims that despite everything we know about the abuse Harvey Weinstein inflicted on them, he still won’t let go of his $60,000?”

Cuomo had sought to shift the debate to his support for women’s pay equity, abortion rights and stronger protections against sexual abuse on college campuses. Smikle continued that line of argument in his statement, saying, “The allegations against Harvey Weinstein are disturbing, horrid and the debate should be on how to best root out this reprehensible behavior and protect women from harassment and abuse. It’s shameful that some have sought to use this matter to score political points, but the real issues are far too serious to allow any distraction to overtake them.”

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Maloney blasts move to weaken LGBT protections

Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney had a blistering response on Saturday to a Trump administration order that will weaken protections for LGBT people and others by instructing federal agencies to consider the religious beliefs of employers and federal grant recipients accused of discrimination.

“This is America dammit,” the Cold Spring Democrat said in a statement. “It doesn’t matter which religion you’re a part of or your marriage status or who you love – everyone gets fair access to government services and our taxpayer dollars don’t subsidize hate or bigotry. Everyone should be furious about this rule.”

He went on to list examples of people who could be fired or refused jobs or services under the color of religion, including single mothers and gay or divorced employees.

“This is discrimination pure and simple – and thanks to the Trump Administration it will be coming to a federal agency, contractor, or grant recipient near you,” Maloney said. “Things have gotten out of control and the Administration needs to roll back this garbage, anti-American rule. Who could possibly think this is a good idea?”

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Neuhaus leads Davis by $200,000 in campaign cash (updated)

Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus raised around $56,000 for his reelection campaign while spending $78,000 on it in just under 12 weeks, yet still had more than $200,000 more than Democratic challenger Pat Davis had in his coffers as of Oct. 2.

The Republican incumbent had $237,562 in his campaign coffers with a little over a month to go before the Nov. 7 election, and Davis had $33,477. Their campaigns filed their latest financial disclosure reports on Friday and Monday, covering income and expenses from July 13 to Oct. 2.

Among the largest donations Neuhaus reported were $5,000 from the New Windsor law firm Drake Loeb on Aug. 7; $2,500 from the Newburgh philanthropist Bill Kaplan on Sept. 11; and $2,500 on Sept. 28 from SecureWatch24, a Manhattan-based contractor that is installing security equipment in the Government Center. SecureWatch24′s past contributions to Neuhaus already far exceeded the county’s $4,000-per-term limit, but county officials insist the company hasn’t broken the law because its form of business organization – a limited-liability company – isn’t specifically listed in the county’s 2013 Pay to Play Law.

(Update: County Attorney Langdon Chapman points out that SecureWatch is also exempt from the county’s limit on donations from county contractors because it was hired off a list of businesses with state contracts. That was explained in a July 26 Times Herald-Record story on loopholes in the 2013 law.)

Neuhaus’ expenses included $10,000 that his campaign paid a Washington, D.C., speakers bureau to have retired Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill headline a fundraiser at Anthony’s Pier 9 in New Windsor on Oct. 4. O’Neill, known as the person whose gunshots killed Osama Bin Laden during a raid in Pakistan in 2011, is now an author who gives paid speeches about his experiences as a SEAL and the Bin Laden raid.

Most of Davis’ donations came from individuals. The top amounts were $4,000 from Michael Flynn of Pelham, N.Y., on Oct. 2, and a $3,000 contribution from Matthew May of Illinois on July 21.

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