This afternoon, courts released a sentencing document for State Senator Shirley Huntley, detailing her cooperation with federal authorities in the wake of her arrest in a bribery scheme. After a slew of corruption scandals have rocked New York State politics in recent weeks, including several of Ms. Huntley’s Albany colleagues, particular attention was placed on the names of officials and staffers caught in Ms. Huntley’s wiretaps. There are nine names on the list.
Another Shoe Drops
State Senator John Sampson, who up until recently led his chamber’s Democratic conference, is set to turn himself into federal authorities today after being ensared in a bribery scandal, according to The New York Times and New York Post.
It’s unclear to what extent Mr. Sampson may have been cooperating with federal prosecutors prior to this point. His involvement in an alleged scheme with then-State Senator Shirley Huntley, who already pleaded guilty to her own charges, was revealed last week when a sentencing letter made public Ms. Huntley’s own cooperation. The Times reports Mr. Sampson be charged with obstruction of justice.
Former Governor Eliot Spitzer, never a fan of the current governor, yesterday blasted his hiring and spending practices at the Empire State Development Corporation. A recent front-page New York Times story suggested Governor Andrew Cuomo’s administration prefers politically connected hires, an implication Mr. Spitzer wholly agreed with.
“There has been a problem at ESDC,” Mr. Spitzer told Road to City Hall host Errol Louis during last night’s program. “I think that The New York Times article was very clear in that is merely the top layer of the onion in terms of politics being pervasive in hiring, leaving and pushing substance to the side.”
What You Should Know
The State Legislature is set to look at tightening New York’s infamously loose campaign finance rules in the wake of a recent slate of corruption scandals, but State Sen. Rubén Díaz believes legislative attention should instead be focused on Governor Andrew Cuomo.
“I would like to recommend that ethics reform in New York State begin in the Governor’s mansion,” Mr. Díaz declared today in one of his regular “What You Should Know” statements. “While we consider how to restrict Senate campaign donations that are used to pay for meals, I would like my readers to know that many of my colleagues are routinely invited to the Governor’s mansion to eat his food and drink his wine with no oversight to who pays those bills.”
When Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly passed tough new gun control measures in January, he faced a raft of criticism for skipping the standard deliberative period and allegedly ignoring the more minute legislative details. The criticism recently found new substance with the bill’s apparently unworkable 7-bullet magazine requirement, which Albany is now working to reverse. And, on his weekly radio show with John Gambling, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said that “one criticism” may indeed have merit.
“This is true of a lot of things,” Mr. Bloomberg said after accusing an unrelated City Council bill of having unintended side-effects. “You asked before about the magazines in Albany. We just got to start to thinking a little bit more about the implications of things before we rush to legislate and rush to legislate everything.”
eye in the sky
New York may join the list of states across the country that have been curtailing the use of unmanned drones. Newly-elected Bronx Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda just announced he is “preparing legislation to circumscribe the domestic usage of drones.”
“The Assemblyman believes that not enough attention is being paid to their operations in the United States, and envisions that without appropriate safeguards, they can be used for malicious and intrusive purposes,” a press release from Mr. Sepulveda’s office declared. “Mr. Sepulveda is open to coordinating with civil libertarian groups to ensure that any bill originating from his office will be adequately comprehensive to “stay ahead” of this burgeoning technology.”
Governor Andrew Cuomo reached his all-time high job approval last month, with 74 percent of the state’s voters telling Quinnipiac University that they approve of the governor’s performance and only 13 percent taking the opposing position. As Mr. Cuomo himself predicted yesterday, however, his support dropped after he quickly pushed the passage of a new gun policy package earlier this month. He now stands at a still-respectable 59 – 28 approval rating.
In a Quinnipiac survey released this morning, Republicans appear to be a key factor in Mr. Cuomo’s doubling disapproval number, likely due to the controversial gun control issue. Indeed, while only 34 percent of New Yorkers said the new legislation went “too far,” 59 percent of the state’s Republicans begged to differ. Mr. Cuomo’s GOP approval fell from an astounding 68 – 18 percent on December 12–just two days before the Newtown massacre–to 44 – 43 today.
Governor Andrew Cuomo says his popularity probably took a shot after he pushed through a controversial gun policy package earlier this month.
The prognostication in question came during a Tuesday morning radio interview with New York Post columnist Fred Dicker. Mr. Dicker, who’s sparred with Mr. Cuomo in the past on the issue, predicted Mr. Cuomo’s typically sky-high numbers would take a tumble in the next statewide survey and Mr. Cuomo simply agreed.
“We know what the polls say on this because we’ve done it. We haven’t done it after the fact, but they were clear enough before the fact,” Mr. Cuomo replied. “I think your prediction is right.”
The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, one of the more prominent gun control advocacy groups in the country, is positively delighted with New York State’s new gun laws and is excited to see them spread in “other states and the federal government.”
Accordingly, the group’s president, Dan Gross, wrote an effusive letter to Albany’s legislative leaders to thank them all for “your hard work, quick action, and most of all – for your courage.”