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NYC Mayor Troubles, Budget Cuts, Biden Woes

Good morning from Buffalo, New York. Between Thanksgiving and the Continuing Resolution keeping the federal government open, this was the quietest week in a very long time. Unless you are Eric Adams…

The New York City Mayor continues to deal with the fallout of an investigation into his 2021 campaign and his top fundraiser, Brianna Suggs, over alleged illegal campaign contributions from individuals and entities with close ties to the Turkish government. To be clear, Adam’s has not been been accused of any wrongdoing, however he did abruptly return to town when the news of the investigation first broke and has since had his electronic devices searched by the FBI in an unusual development.

The Mayor has hired a high-powered law firm, WilmerHale, and has started a legal defense fund saying, “I am just overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who have watched my work over all these years, and they’re saying, ‘Listen, we want to be with you during this period of time.’” In contrast, a new Marist College poll found that more than 70% of respondents believe the Mayor did something “illegal” or “unethical” in his dealings with the Turkish government. 

Mayor Adams was also accused of sexually assaulting a woman in 1993 when he worked for the New York Police Department. The allegations come as the window for the Adult Survivors Act officially closed last week. The bill, signed by Governor Hochul last year, opened a one year look back period for victims of sexual assault to file claims against their abuser, even if it is outside the normal statute of limitation. Since passing the law, over 2,500 lawsuits have been filed and over half of those are prison-related claims alleging sexual abuse by correctional officers. The law enabled several high-profile claims, including the lawsuit by writer E. Jean Carroll alleging former President Trump sexually assaulted her in 1995. That case went to trial and Trump was found liable and was ordered to pay $5 million in damages. 

Brittany Commisso, who accused Gov. Cuomo of groping her at the Executive Mansion, is interviewed at the Times Union in 2021. Will Waldron/Times Union

Brittany Commisso, the Executive Chamber aide who accused Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment in 2021, has officially filed a lawsuit against the former Governor. Commisso claims that she was groped by Cuomo and was subjected to a pattern of “continuous sexual harassment” during her time as an executive assistant to the Governor.

The lawsuit also states that Commisso was retaliated against by the incoming Hochul Administration which led to “loss of career opportunities and advancement.” Cuomo has denied the allegations and the criminal misdemeanor charge that stemmed from Commisso’s claims was later dismissed.

State Senator Kevin Parker of Brooklyn, who voted in support of the bill, has himself been accused of sexual assault in a lawsuit filed under the Adult Survivors Act last week. The filing alleges that Parker raped Olga Jean-Baptiste in 2004 when Baptiste was helping coordinating aid for Haiti.

Parker is the Chair of the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee and Governor Hochul has indicated that the Senate should open an investigation into the matter, calling the allegations “absolutely shocking.” Parker has denied the allegations saying, “While I cannot comment on the specifics of this litigation, I am completely confident in assuring my constituents, colleagues, and supporters these allegations are absolutely untrue.” 

Mayor Adam’s announced deep cuts to New York City’s Budget, citing the fiscal costs associated with the recent influx of migrants. The budget cuts, nearly $4 billion in total, will freeze the hiring of new police officers, close libraries on Sundays, and cut the Education Budget by over $1 billion over the next two years, to the detriment of summer school and universal pre-K programs. Adams admitted that these cuts were painful, but offered some hope that the federal government could alleviate the pain saying, “No city should be left to handle a national humanitarian crisis largely on its own, and without the significant and timely support we need from Washington, D.C., today’s budget will be only the beginning.” The hiring freeze will result in the number of NYPD officers dropping below 30,000 for the first time since the 1980s.

Patrick Hendry, the New York City Police Benevolent Association President said, “Cops are already stretched to our breaking point, and these cuts will return us to staffing levels we haven’t seen since the crime epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s. We cannot go back there.” Adams also was criticized by much of the City Council; however, they are largely powerless in relation to Adams’ Executive Authority over the budget process. Another casualty of the spending drawback is the composting initiative in the Bronx and on Staten Island, originally proposed by the Mayor, to deal with the city’s rat problem. 

“Cops are already stretched to our breaking point, and these cuts will return us to staffing levels we haven’t seen since the crime epidemic of the ’80s and ’90s. We cannot go back there.”

Patrick Hendry, New York City Police Benevolent Association President

In Washington, D.C., the legislative lull just means the bad headlines get louder for President Biden. A new NBC poll shows that Biden’s approval rating has slipped to its lowest point so far. The poll also showed President Biden behind Donald Trump for the first time in a hypothetical general election rematch. Biden is seeing his greatest slippage among voters between 18 and 34, many of whom do not share in his support for Israel. The good news for the Biden campaign is that those voters are unlikely to vote for President Trump and Biden still has eleven months to bring disaffected Democrats back into the fold. A poll from Emerson College showed much of the same with President Biden trailing Donald Trump by 4 points. Biden has seen support among African-American voters slip by 15 points compared to November of 2022 and is now less popular than the former President with voters under 50. 

The good news for the Biden campaign is that those voters are unlikely to vote for President Trump and Biden still has eleven months to bring disaffected Democrats back into the fold.

The Republican Presidential Primary is heating up as we count down to the Iowa Caucus, a mere 49 days away. The remaining members of the GOP primary field, all far behind Donald Trump in the polls, are doubling down on the Hawkeye State, hoping for the longshot win or more realistically a clear second to establish themselves as the clear Trump alternative. 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has set up a massive ground operation in the state and has picked up the endorsement of Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and other prominent local lawmakers. Former Ambassador Nikki Haley has also been omnipresent in the state, hoping she can parlay early wins in Iowa and her home state of South Carolina into enough support to pry the nomination from Trump, though she and DeSantis both trail him by over 25 points in Iowa. 

During Dry January, some bars are charging as much as $17 for mocktails ©Emma McGregor


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