Malick campaign filing omitted newspaper ads

Ulster Republican Chairman Roger Rascoe said this week that he has filed a complaint with the Board of Elections’ enforcement office about Democratic Senate candidate Pramilla Malick’s failure to disclose how much she paid for Times Herald-Record ads she bought before the Sept. 13 primary in her financial filings.

Rascoe announced in a press release that Malick, a political newcomer who was waging a write-in effort to get on the ballot against Republican Sen. John Bonacic in November, bought at least 10 campaign ads before the primary and that he had sent a complaint letter to Risa Sugarman, the board’s enforcement counsel, to report that Malick’s financial statements didn’t record the advertising expenses. “It has become obvious that they are engaging in fraudulent behavior to disguise their campaign spending,” Rascoe fumed. “What else are they trying to hide?”

In an emailed response on Friday, Malick told the Record that her campaign treasurer “forgot to include those expenses because they were not paid out of our committee account but rather directly by my husband. Although he had given her the information about the expense, in her rush to get the papers filed, she forgot to include it and is filing an amendment today. Please note that at the time those expenses were incurred we did not yet have a bank account or a Treasurer for that matter.” The amendment had not been recorded on the state Board of Elections website by the end of the day.

Malick, who won her write-in bid and will challenge Bonacic in the Nov. 8 election, had only $1,300 in her campaign account as of Monday. Bonacic has $750,000. His last filing indicated that he raised $26,000 in less than three weeks.

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Wieder sweeps write-in primaries in Assembly race

Democratic Assembly candidate Aron Wieder appears to have picked up four additional ballot lines through write-in votes in primaries held last week, judging from tallies provided by the election boards in Orange and Rockland counties.

Wieder, a Rockland County legislator who will challenge Republican Assemblyman Karl Brabenec on Nov. 8, wrested the valuable Conservative Party line from Brabenec by winning 287 write-in votes, more than double the 140 machine votes cast for Brabenec on Sept. 13. Wieder also won the Green Party line with 35 write-in votes, stripped Brabenec of the Reform Party line with a mere nine votes, and apparently took the Women’s Equality Party line from his Democratic rival, Krystal Serrano, with only four votes.

Unless those totals change when the state Board of Elections certifies the results, Wieder will have six ballot lines in all in November. He beat Serrano for the Democratic nomination and defeated Brabenec is a separate primary for the Independence Party line on Sept. 13.

Brabenec, who won a Republican primary against United Monroe activist John Allegro that same day, will have the GOP line and a independent-party line for his first re-election bid. He’s a former Deerpark town supervisor who eked out victory a three-way race in 2014 to claim the open 98th District seat, which represents a board area from rural western Orange County to almost the middle of Rockland County.

Wieder has been a county legislator for five years and is making his third Assembly run.

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DCCC Poll: Teachout leading by five points in NY-19

A new poll conducted by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee this month shows Democrat Zephyr Teachout ahead by five points against Republican John Faso in the 19th Congressional District.

With less than two months to go before the general election, the DCCC’s new poll says Teachout holds a 16-point advantage over Faso among registered Independents in the district, 51 percent to 35 percent. She also leads by 45 points among 18 to 34 year at 61 percent to 16 percent, by 14 points among voters aged 35 to 44 years old at 52 percent to 28 percent and leads by 10 points among women at 48 percent to 38 percent.

Out of those surveyed, 11 percent were undecided, according to the poll.

The DCCC says it surveyed 532 likely general election voters from Sept. 13-14 in the district via phone. The interviews were both live and automated. The margin of error is plus or minus 4.2 percent, according to the DCCC.

According to the same poll, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton holds a slimmer 3-point lead against Republican Donald Trump.

Polling by a group paid for by Faso’s campaign and conducted in early August showed Faso with a five point lead in his favor. He was ahead with 46 percent of the vote and Teachout with 41 percent, according to that poll.

Teachout is a 44-year-old Democrat from Clinton Corners and professor at Fordham Law School. Faso is a 64-year Republican from Kinderhook and former assemblyman. They’re looking to replace retiring GOP Rep. Chris Gibson in the 19th Congressional District, which includes all or part of 11 counties, including all of Ulster and Sullivan.

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Write-in count in Senate Democratic primary starts Monday

The Orange County Board of Elections will start reading and counting hundreds of Democratic write-in votes in the 42nd Senate District race on Monday, a process that will determine if environmental activist Pramilla Malick gets to challenge Republican Sen. John Bonacic in the Nov. 8 general election.

Some 2,910 Democrats cast ballots in the write-in-only primary on Tuesday, with 1,255 votes cast in Orange, the largest total of the four counties in the 42nd Senate District. Since no other Democrats were seeking the nomination, the only question is whether Malick withstood an unlikely pitch by the longtime Republican incumbent for Democrats to write in his name instead. Bonacic would have no opposition in November if were to get more write-in votes than Malick.

Preliminary vote counts obtained from two of the 42nd District’s counties and announced this week by Malick’s campaign suggest there is little chance she will lose. According to her campaign, those numbers indicate she had won roughly 87 percent of the 931 write-in votes cast in Sullivan County and as much as 97 percent of the 157 write-ins in Delaware. The campaign had no early indications of the tallies in Orange or in Ulster, where 565 votes were cast.

Malick, who had filed what is known as an opportunity-to-ballot petition to stage the write-in primary, said in a statement that her winning a spot in the general election would be a “victory for America’s democratic process.”

“Voters are entitled to a choice when they go to the polls on Election Day,” she said. “Taking away this choice discourages participation in the electoral process and undermines our democracy.”

When the other counties will begin counting the Senate ballots and how long it will take all four to finish is unclear. Thursday is their deadline to certify the results.

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Judge dismisses case against NY pay raise panel

A Nassau County judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of an appointed commission that is considering raises for state officials and lawmakers and is due to convene again next week.

The case was brought in April by James Coll, a New York City police officer and college teacher from Long Island who leads an Albany reform group. Coll, representing himself in the suit, had argued that state lawmakers and Gov. Andrew Cuomo had violated the state constitution by forming a seven-member commission that could raise their salaries without any action by elected officials to enact those pay increases. The New York State Commission on Legislative, Judicial and Executive Compensation raised judges’ salaries last year and is now weighing pay hikes for all 213 senators and Assembly members, Cuomo, Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and state department heads. Its deadline is Nov. 15.

In a three-sentence decision dated Sept. 1, state Supreme Court Justice George Peck granted the state’s request to dismiss Coll’s case, and rejected the idea that he should recuse himself as a beneficiary of the pay commission. “Although this court has a financial interest in the outcome of this case, recusal is not necessary because every New York State Supreme Court Justice would have the same interest,” he wrote.

Attorneys from Schneiderman’s office had questioned Coll’s standing to bring the case and insisted that raise authority still lies with the Legislature, since lawmakers theoretically can reject or change whatever salaries the commission recommends. Coll points out in response how far-fetched that prospect is, given the fact that lawmakers ended their 2016 session in June and aren’t scheduled to return to Albany until next year.

One commission member appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie suggested in July that the panel raise everyone’s salaries by 47 percent, a proposal that would increase lawmakers’ base pay to $116,900 from $79,5000 and raise Cuomo’s salary to $263,000 from $179,000. No alternative proposals were made at that meeting.

The commission is scheduled to meet at 11 a.m. on Sept. 22 in Manhattan.

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Assembly District 98 primaries leave 3-way race

The seven primaries held Tuesday for the Assembly District 98 seat have left a three-way race for the general election, with Assemblyman Karl Brabenec as the Republican candidate, Democrat Aron Wieder running on as many as six ballot lines and United Monroe activist John Allegro as an independent candidate.

Brabenec beat Allegro in a Republican primary by around 700 votes, despite losing to Allegro by several hundred votes in the areas of Orange County outside Kiryas Joel. Brabenec, a Republican freshman from Deerpark, was endorsed by Kiryas Joel’s majority political faction and won half of his 2,652 total votes in that village alone, judging from Kiryas Joel’s own vote tallies.

That endorsement may be viewed more as a rejection of Allegro – a leader of the United Monroe citizens group, which has fought the attempted expansion of Kiryas Joel – and a form of support for Wieder than an embrace of Brabenec. The same Kiryas Joel leaders who steered votes to Brabenec in the Republican primary backed Wieder instead of him in the Independence and Conservative primaries, a likely indication of their preferred candidate. And having both Brabenec and Allegro remain in the race and compete for votes in November is a scenario that seems to benefit Wieder.

Kiryas Joel voters also played a major role in the Democratic primary, voting 768-32 for Wieder over Krystal Serrano, his opponent, according to the village’s vote count. Wieder, a Rockland County legislator, trounced Serrano in the Rockland portion of the Assembly district, but Serrano beat him in Orange and had a similarly lopsided majority in that county in all areas outside Kiryas Joel.

Still to play out is a court battle for the United Monroe ballot line that both Brabenec and Allegro sought. Two pending cases seek to invalidate Brabenec’s controversial petition to run under the banner of his rival’s party and, alternately, to block him from using the United Monroe name for his ballot line or campaign.

Also undetermined is the outcome of four primaries with write-in votes that county election boards are expected to read and count next week. Wieder will have six ballot lines in all in the Nov. 8 election if he wins all four of those contests, for the Conservative, Women’s Equality, Reform and Green parties.

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‘Disloyal’ City of Newburgh Dems regain committee seats

Every Newburgh Democratic Committee member who sought reelection after being ousted on “disloyalty” charges for supporting Judy Kennedy after she lost a primary to committee Chairman Jonathan Jacobson in last year’s mayoral campaign regained seats on Tuesday.

Kippy Boyle, Mark Carnes, Lisa Daily, Deborah Danzy and Brian Flannery were all reelected to the committee. Four other accused disloyalists – Karen Eberle-McCarthy, Benilda Jones, Mary Elin Korchinsky and Ramona Monteverde – were also victorious.

Those incensed by Jacobson’s decision to oust Kennedy supporters, and by his leadership style, hold a majority in number of seats and in weighted voting, the process by which the chair is elected, according to Daily.

“I think the public is more aware, and the public has spoken,” Daily said. “This idea of being thrown out brought out the unfairness of the situation.”

Jacobson filed the disloyalty charges in January, two months after he lost to Kennedy in their general-election battle for mayor. Despite losing the Democratic primary, Kennedy carried the Independence Party line in November and defeated Jacobson in their rematch.

Kennedy supporters had accused Jacobson of being disloyal because he challenged an incumbent Democratic mayor.

Newburgh Councilwoman Karen Mejia was among those targeted for ouster, but she chose to resign from the committee and not seek reelection.

“Under Mr. Jacobson’s leadership the democratic committee in the City of Newburgh has been completely dysfunctional,” she wrote in May when announcing her resignation.

On Wednesday, Jacobson said he has been the target of “smears and misinformation” and plans to work with every member of the committee “so long as they fulfill the mission of the Democratic Party … which is to elect Democrats.”

As far as the committee chair’s seat, he plans to let the math decide.

“I’ll look at the numbers and if it appears that I’m not going to win, I’m not going to put my name up,” he said.

Among the other winners in the committee races on Tuesday were Kennedy and Jacobson. Councilwomen Cindy Holmes and Hillary Rayford also won, while Councilwoman Regina Angelo lost.

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Bonacic appeals again for Democratic write-in votes (updated)

Republican state Sen. John Bonacic has made another pitch to Democratic voters to write his name on a Democratic primary ballot next week, an effort to thwart environmental activist Pramilla Malick’s bid to challenge him in the Nov. 8 general election.

Malick, who is a Democrat, filed what is known as an opportunity-to-ballot petition in July that enables Democratic voters to write in her name or any other in a primary to get the winning candidate into the November election for the 42nd Senate District. Malick had missed the deadline to submit a Democratic petition and took the write-in route in order to take on Bonacic, who would otherwise have had no opponent for the third election in a row.

Bonacic, a Republican stalwart with four ballot lines already for the general election, had made an initial, limited play for Democratic votes last month by distributing a letter that asked the recipients to write in his name, without mentioning the upcoming primary or his party. On Friday, Malick’s campaign distributed a new letter from Bonacic to Democratic voters that again asks for their write-in votes and touts his record on state funding for schools, environmental protection and women’s health care. The first letter appears to have been sent only to elderly and infirm Democrats who automatically receive absentee ballots; how widely he distributed the new letter is unclear.

“Your support would be greatly appreciated as I seek to continue fighting for all the residents in the 42nd Senate District,” reads the new letter, dated Tuesday.

Malick denounced the letter in a press release on Friday, saying Bonacic was misleading voters by failing to disclose that he’s a Republican, and was trying to “short circuit the democratic process” by avoiding any competition for his office in November.

“Voters are entitled to a choice on Election Day,” she said.

The Democratic primary for the four-county 42nd Senate District is on Tuesday.

(Update: Brett Broge, Orange County’s Democratic chairman, sent the following response to this post: “Pramilla Malick is the endorsed candidate of the Orange County Democratic Committee and I encourage all Democratic voters in the 42nd Senate district to go out and write in her name on the September 13th primary.  As to reports that Senator Bonacic is also running a campaign for the Democratic nomination, Mr. Bonacic has regularly sided with those interests opposed to the issues important to most Democratic Party voters for the 26 years he has been in Albany.  He is a career Republican politician who does not represent Democratic Party values and I would therefore call on our party members to reject any effort by Senator Bonacic and his special interest allies to steal this line from a bona fide Democratic candidate.”)








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Larkin touts union endorsements

Republican Sen. Bill Larkin announced Friday that five unions, including the two big ones representing state government employees, have endorsed him for re-election.

His union list included the Civil Service Employees Association and the New York Public Employees Federation, which represent the bulk of the state workforce. Larkin also touted the support of the the New York State AFL-CIO and local affiliates of the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Utility Workers union. He attributed their support to his own support for bills that enabled veterans to increase their state pensions and strengthened penalties for assaulting a utility worker.

New York State United Teachers has endorsed Larkin’s Democratic opponent, Chris Eachus. Eachus, an Orange County legislator from New Windsor who also challenged Larkin in 2012, was a physics teacher at Newburgh Free Academy until his retirement last year.

The CSEA has endorsed endorsed only incumbents, regardless of party, in contested state races in Orange, Ulster and Sullivan counties this year. That includes Republican senators Larkin, John Bonacic, George Amedore and Jim Seward; and Democratic assemblymen Kevin Cahill, Frank Skartados and James Skoufis. The union is awaiting the outcome of next week’s primaries in Assembly District 98 – the Orange/Rockland seat held by Republican Assemblyman Karl Brabenec – before making an endorsement in that race.

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Eachus scolds Larkin for skipping water contamination hearing (updated)

The New Windsor Democrat running to unseat Republican Sen. Bill Larkin called it “an embarassment” that Larkin didn’t attend a state Legislature hearing on water contamination on Wednesday at which the City of Newburgh manager testified about the pollution that recently forced the city to shut off its main water source.

Newburgh is in the center of Larkin’s Senate district and is one of its main population centers. In addition, Larkin serves on the Senate Health Committee, one of four Senate and Assembly committees that held the 12-hour hearing in Albany. Michael Ciaravino, Newburgh’s city manager, was one of 27 witnesses to address the senators and Assembly members who attended the marathon session, testifying about the discovery of perfluorooctane sulfonate, or PFOS, in Washington Lake and how the city and state and federal agencies have responded to the emergency. Other witnesses who spoke that day included New York’s commissioners of health and environmental conservation, various water experts, and representatives of environmental groups and communities with water contamination.

Chris Eachus, an Orange County legislator who challenging Larkin in November, voiced dismay that Newburgh’s senator skipped the hearing, even if much of the discussion dealt with the upstate village of Hoosick Falls and the contamination of its water by a chemical similiar to the one affecting Newburgh – perflourooctanoic acid, or PFOA.

“It is an embarrassment that legislators from throughout New York State met to discuss water quality issues and Bill Larkin refused to participate,” Eachus said in a prepared statement. “As the Senator from a community that is impacted with potentially hazardous water, Bill Larkin had a responsibility to represent our families and businesses at the water quality hearing, and he failed us. We need a new voice in Albany who will actually stand up for our communities.”

Eachus said Larkin’s absence was particularly glaring because he was “the only representative of a community struggling with water quality issues to skip the proceeding.”

Larkin’s spokesman, Brian Maher, responded by calling Eachus’ criticism a “shameful attempt to score political points during a health crisis.” He said Larkin was “working in his district” while his colleagues were listening to testimony in Albany, but has spoken to the chairmen of the two Senate committees involved in the hearing, as well as to Newburgh officials and the Department of Health. Maher said Larkin also has written letters to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Health Commissioner Howard Zucker to ask that blood testing be made available for Newburgh residents.

Maher later clarified that Larkin “held several appointments with constituents” on the hearing day. Larkin also missed an earlier hearing on water contamination that his Health Committee and other legislative committees held in Hoosick Falls on Aug. 30.

Newburgh’s other representative in Albany, Assemblyman Frank Skartados, did attend this week’s hearing in Albany and participate in it. According to one of his aides, the Milton Democrat questioned a representative of the Department of Environmental Conservation about Newburgh blood testing and a watershed map that failed to identify Washington Lake as a water source for the city.

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