8:45 am Feb. 19, 20131
The Daily News reports that Malcolm Smith, the new chair of a breakaway caucus of independent Democrats in the State Senate, is spending an awful lot of campaign money on things that don't obviously relate to any campaign.
Smith "spent more than $100,000 in campaign funds last year on lodging, airfare, meals, car payments and other travel- and entertainment-related expenses."
He also "ran unopposed for reelection in 2012."
A spokesman for Smith said the lawmaker was paying for legitimate travel and lodging on trips, and saving taxpayers money.
"He doesn’t want to bill the taxpayers of New York for expenses when they are campaign-related," said spokesman, Todd Shapiro.
It's all legal, which is the issue. New York State has especially lax rules governing not only how money comes into lawmakers' campaign coffers, but how those lawmakers can spend it. Almost anything may be said to be "campaign-related," technically, as long as the law doesn't specify that it isn't.
Governor Andrew Cuomo campaigned in 2010 on the promise of lowering contribution limits (though he never specified how low) and tightening regulation of the expenditure of campaign funds. (Country club memberships, for example, would be a prohibited use.)
But such fixes would alter governor's relationship with the lawmakers whose support he needs in order to pass other parts of his agenda, and, like all process issues, they score relatively low on voters' list of priorities.
Which probably means that, promises notwithstanding, they score low on Cuomo's list of priorities, too.
"It’s a legal form of blackmail" — unnamed Council member
"Cuomo has developed a habit of answering reporters' queries by asking his own questions." [Laura Nahmias]
A defense of NYCHA's plan to build housing on available land to help plug chronic deficits. [Michael Powell]
In this "Rare No-Jew Race in Gotham" story, Tom Allon gets a brief mention, and John Liu gets none. [Josh Nathan-Kazis]
A teachers' group demands the state create a new evaluation system. [Erik Kriss]
Assembly Democrats are blocking a bill that would help change the Electoral College system to a national popular vote. [Reid Pillifant]
Is there any evidence there will actually be a Bloomberg backlash in the Democratic primary? [Stephen Sigmund]
Twitter-based mayoral candidate Ceceilia Berkowitz sounds different in real life. [Azi Paybarah]
Remembering Isac Weinberger. [Azi Paybarah]
"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo is in Albany."
10 a.m Public Advocate Bill de Blasio calls on the Obama administration to "put cities at the center of its new expansion on Pre-K programs" at the New Settlement School, 1501 Jerome Avenue (between 172nd Street and Globe Place) in the Bronx. @BilldeBlasio #PreK
11 a.m. Mayor Michael Bloomberg 54 West 21 Street, Manhattan. @MikeBloomberg
11 a.m. Council candidate Selvena Brooks votes at Arverne Pilgrim Church, 74-16 Beach Channel Drive, in Queens. @SelvenaBrooks31 #CD31 #Feb19 #District31
11 a.m. State Senator Terry Gipson, Assemblyman Frank Skartados, Beacon Mayor Randy Casale, NYSCOPBA President Donn Rowe speak out against plans to close the Beacon Correctional Facility, at the Howland Cultural Center, 477 Main Street, Beacon. @TerryGipsonNY #SaveBeacon
1 p.m. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announces results of the first three months of his Homeowner Protection Program, in his regional office, in Suite 300A in the Main Place Tower, at 350 Main Street, in Buffalo. @AGschneiderman #SafeHomeNY
6:30 p.m. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, State Senator Terry Gipson and Assemblyman Frank Skartados hold a town hall meeting to discuss job creation, affordable housing, "the social safety net" and other issues, at the Family Partnership Center, 29 North Hamilton Street, Poughkeepsie. @RepSeanMaloney @TerryGipsonNY #NY18
7 p.m. On "The Road to City Hall:" Brox Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. And the Wise Guys segment with Eliot Spitzer, Alfonse D'Amato and David Paterson. @RubenDiazJr @RoadToCityHall @AlDamatoNY #NYC2013
How will Quinn's campaign advertise an unfilmed endorsement from Ed Koch? [Michael Grynbaum]
Adolfo Carrion Jr. is counting on being able to pull voters who don't show up to vote. [David Chen]
City Hill / City Council
R.I.P. Isac Weinberger. [David Seifman]
The city is trying to "standardize detective work." [Joseph Goldstein]
The finance department doesn't push paperwork fast enough to give people a tax break when they move within the city, critics say. [Sally Goldenberg]
The city spent $15.6 million on audits of possible medicaid fraud, and recovered only $11 million. [Beth Defalco]
A company helped with a grant from the city's Economic Development Corporation is doing well. [Sally Goldenberg]
A newspaper mockingly endorses Alec Baldwin for mayor. [New York Post]
Support for e-hail apps. [Daily News]
Schneiderman's transparency rules get a major newspaper endorsement. [Newsday]
State Senator Malcolm Smith "spent more than $100,000 in campaign funds last year on lodging, airfare, meals, car payments and other travel- and entertainment-related expenses." [Glenn Blain]
Pro-gun lawmakers aren't entirely ruling out limits on the size of magazines. [Jennifer Steinhauer]
The House approved a bill to expand FEMA coverage to churches and synagogues, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand is trying to get it passed in the Senate. [Robert Pear]
Guy Cecil, who worked for Chuck Schumer at the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, is now a key cog in the party's effort to keep the Senate. [Jonathan Weisman]
The White House press corps is mad about Obama's lack of access and Politico sees the president as "the puppet master" of a restrictive media strategy. [Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen]
A conservative News columnist explains her anti-Rush Limbaugh quote, which appeared in a Times magazine story this weekend. [S.E. Cupp]
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