Behind the Scenes
The breakaway Democratic caucus in the State Senate is trying to recruit a candidate to unseat Senator Toby Stavisky, a Democrat from Queens, as they seek to strengthen their control of the chamber.
A source with direct knowledge of the Independent Democratic Conference’s plans freely admitted the efforts to Politicker this afternoon.
Richard Alles, the legislative director for the Uniformed Fire Officers Association, is mulling a run for State Senator José Peralta’s Queens-based seat.
Mr. Alles, a Jackson Heights resident, confirmed his interest in challenging Mr. Peralta next year.
State Senator Malcolm Smith may be facing federal corruption charges, but LL Cool J is cool with it.
The ’90s heartthrob, rapper and star of NCIS: Los Angeles returned to his childhood neighborhood in southeast Queens yesterday to co-host a basketball tournament with the indicted pol, who recently pleaded not-guilty to federal corruption charges for allegedly orchestrating an elaborate scheme to get himself elected mayor.
“The beauty about the American system is that you’re innocent ’til proven guilty,” the rapper told Politicker as he greeted excited fans at the annual basketball event when asked about the scandal.
Good Will Huntley
She may have already admitted to corruption, but it was not her fault that she was prosecuted, former State Senator Shirley Huntley repeatedly insisted today. She provided many excuses.
A month from serving a year-long prison sentence, Ms. Huntley claimed, for example, that she was singled out for an investigation because she didn’t tell her constituents that the current attorney general’s electoral opponent was “a racist and only locks up black people” during the campaign.
“He was upset with me about certain things that he wanted me to do,” Ms. Huntley said of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, a former colleague in the State Senate before he ran for higher office in 2010. Mr. Schneiderman faced a crowded field in the Democratic primary, including Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, whom Ms. Huntley alleged she was asked to malign.
Playing With Fire
New Yorkers may no longer be able to buy lighters that look like the Statue of Liberty or that cute cow in the photograph to the left.
The New York State Assembly approved a ban on novelty lighters today, joining the State Senate, which did so last week, and leaving the bill just a gubernatorial signature away from becoming law.
I want candy
Albany is apparently a sweet place to be.
In his latest “What You Should Know” missive, State Senator Rubén Díaz Sr. wrote that the Independent Democratic Conference, a group of breakaway Democrats governing the State Senate with Republicans, is dominating Albany and gobbling up all of the “candies” that Democrats can’t feast upon any more.
Thus far in the mayoral race, almost all of Bill de Blasio’s endorsements have come from the battleground borough of the Bronx, but today he is branching out to Queens, where State Senator James Sanders is joining the public advocate’s team.
In a statement, Mr. Sanders, whose district includes the Hurricane Sandy-ravaged Rockaways, touted Mr. de Blasio’s support in the aftermath of the storm.
Good Will Huntley
When Lynn Smith, the niece of ex-State Sen. Shirley Huntley, wrote to a federal judge in February to beg for leniency for her indicted aunt, she neglected to mention one crucial fact of her own story: she had pleaded guilty to stealing $30,000 a week earlier.
Ms. Huntley, who will be sentenced tomorrow after pleading guilty to embezzling $87,000 and tampering with physical evidence to obstruct a probe into the theft of member item money she sponsored for a nonprofit, roped Ms. Smith and several other associates into the scheme. Ms. Smith pleaded guilty in February to stealing $30,000 in taxpayer funds from a sham nonprofit group that Ms. Huntley founded. This information was not mentioned in her letter, made public today, to Judge Jack Weinstein.
What You Should Know
Outspoken State Senator Rubén Díaz, Sr. is out with another one of his “What You Should Know” missives, this one addressing the recent spate of New York legislators being arrested, a list that State Senator John Sampson joined yesterday. And Mr. Díaz, in a roundabout way, very strongly suggests there’s a racial component to federal prosecutors’ targets.
“The only thing we do know that is new in these times in New York State, is the Black and Hispanic politicians are the ones being wired and sent out to root out corruption among Black and Hispanic officials,” he said in a statement dismissing alarmist rhetoric to describe the Empire State’s corruption controversies. “I would hate to think that as Black and Hispanic leaders who are elected to represent our communities, that we would be targeted to weed out corruption only in our backyards, and that we would be held to a higher standard than the non-Black and Hispanic leaders.”
After State Senator John Sampson was arrested for his alleged involvement in a bribery scheme this morning, the lawmaker who replaced Mr. Sampson as the head of the Senate’s Democratic conference, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, acted swiftly by stripping him of rank and privilege.
“These allegations are deeply disturbing,” Ms. Stewart-Cousins said in a statement.