Money in Politics in NY: Jun 20 Edition

June 20, 2014

The Daily Gazette: New York’s 2014 Legislative Session a Failure

The New York State legislative session is ending this week without major progress on big-ticket issues such as campaign finance reform, minimum wage, and the women’s equality agenda. The Daily Gazette called the session a “big flop.” The upstate newspaper said that the failure to pass campaign finance reform would allow big money to continue “to influence elections at the expense of worthy candidates who don’t have access to large donors.” Although the legislature had several months to work to find solutions to these pressing concerns, they largely failed to address them.

Law Professor Teachout Plans to Mount Primary Challenge to Gov. Cuomo

Zephyr Teachout, a Fordham University law professor, is collecting signatures to mount a Democratic primary challenge to Governor Andrew Cuomo. Her decision to run follows a contentious Working Families Party convention, where the third party nominated Cuomo for their ballot line in this year’s gubernatorial election. Teachout however, still garnered 41.3 percent of the vote at the convention. Now, she needs at least 15,000 signatures by registered Democrats to secure her name on the ballot. “Four years ago, Andrew Cuomo stood on the steps of a courthouse named after Boss Tweed and promised to clean up corruption in New York State. But he, as Gov. Cuomo, has become the problem that candidate Cuomo promised to fix,” Teachout told the press. She also leveled criticisms against the governor’s economic and fiscal policies, and emphasized the importance of reforming campaign finance to raise the voices of average voters. “I believe in democracy, not donors,” she said.

Mistrial in Corruption Case Involving State Sen. Smith

On Tuesday, Federal District Court Judge Kenneth M. Karas declared a mistrial in the corruption case involving New York State Senator Malcolm Smith and former Vice Chairman of the Queens County Republican Committee Vincent Tabone. Prosecutors had failed to provide the defense with recordings of telephone calls and text messages from a government informer, Moses Stern, which may have been relevant to the trial. Since more than 28 hours of the conversations were in Yiddish, the defense asked the judge for more time to translate and digest the recordings. Some of the jurors could not serve for this extended period of time, which would have pushed the trial into mid-July. Defense attorneys for Smith and Tabone did not consent to going forward with the trial with fewer jurors, leading Judge Karas to schedule a new trial for January 5th, 2015. The trial of the third defendant—former  New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, who allegedly served as an intermediary for Smith’s bribery schemes—will resume in a week.