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.
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.”
State Sen. Malcolm Smith, arrested and charged last week as part of a wide-ranging bribery scandal, looks like he could have electoral troubles in addition to his legal woes. Jason Hilliard, a long-time staffer to Congressman Gregory Meeks, is actively mulling a challenge to Mr. Smith, a source close to Hilliard told Politicker.
While Mr. Hilliard declined to discuss his bid, the source said he had been considering the challenge even before last week’s indictment, as he wanted to “enact a more progressive agenda” than Mr. Smith had been advocating. The source addded that Mr. Hilliard “based [the] decision … to serve as a champion” on issues like the standard of living in southeastern Queens.
Democratic State Sen. Daniel Squadron called on his Democratic colleague, State Sen. Malcolm Smith, to resign after he was arrested this morning and accused of orchestrating bribery scheme to land himself in the Republican mayoral primary.
“The charges outlined in today’s complaint are simply shocking,” Mr. Squadron, who’s also a candidate for public advocate this year, said in a statement earlier today. “This is something that belongs in ‘House of Cards,’ not an election to decide who will run our city or any part of our government. Regardless of the outcome of the criminal charges filed against Senator Smith, he has lost the public trust — and he should resign.”
Malcolm in the Middle
That was fast.
Independent Democratic Conference leader Jeffrey Klein effectively booted Senator Malcolm Smith from his breakaway Democratic caucus this afternoon, stripping him of his leadership position and all committee assignments in the wake of charges that he took part in an alleged bribery scheme.
Over the weekend, Republicans in the New York State Senate rolled out a plan to address gun laws, which received criticism from Democrats due to its focus on increasing penalties for illegal guns rather than restricting access to assault weapons. A spokesman for Governor Andrew Cuomo quickly shot it down, however, and Mr. Cuomo reiterated his position that the Republicans’ policy proposals are a non-starter at a press conference this morning.
“I don’t think their plan goes far enough,” Mr. Cuomo said. “I think it misses the mark, pardon the pun, to put out a plan that doesn’t ban an assault weapon with what we’ve seen.”
Over the weekend, The Journal News newspaper published maps with the addresses and names of pistol permit holders in Westchester and Rockland Counties. The information for the map was legally obtained by the paper through a Freedom of Information Act request, but it sparked a nationwide controversy among those who considered the map a privacy violation. This morning, State Senator Greg Ball weighed in by proposing legislation to keep gun records private and prevent the publication of similar stories in the future. He also blasted “the asinine editors at The Journal News” who published the map.
“The asinine editors at The Journal News have once again gone out of their way to place a virtual scarlet letter on law-abiding firearm owners throughout the region. The immediate elimination of the information posted on the Journal News website is the only way we can ensure the safety and liberty of these New Yorkers,” said Mr. Ball in a statement. “This is clearly a violation of privacy, and needs to be corrected immediately. The same elitist eggheads who use their editorial page to coddle terrorists and criminals are now treating law-abiding citizens like level three sexual predators.”
What You Should Know
State Senator Ruben Diaz sent a special New Year’s-themed edition of his regular “What You Should Know” email newsletters this morning. In his year-end missive, Mr. Diaz took a series of shots at the State Senate with backhanded “political wishes” for the new IDC/GOP leadership coalition, “Uncle Tom” State Senator Malcolm Smith and State Senator Adriano Espaillat.
Newly-elected State Senate Minority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins sidestepped radio host Fred Dicker’s repeated attempts to get her to say whether or not she agreed with State Senator Bill Perkins’ demand that Governor Andrew Cuomo stand up against “the plantation politics of backroom deals.”
Mr. Perkins, a Harlem Democrat, blasted the statement out yesterday, alluding to the power sharing agreement between the breakaway Independent Democratic Conference and Senate Republicans. Democrats were locked out the majority yet again when the IDC agreed to govern with Republican State Sen. Dean Skelos, angering Democrats who believed the Democratic governor of New York should have done more to return them to the majority and were upset by the fact the new Senate majority has just one minority member.