- Monday Morning Memo
- Ethical Dilemma
Commission ruled unconstitutional, election strategy, and Biden on the campaign trail
Judge Thomas Marcelle speaks with attorneys for former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state following arguments in Albany County Court Friday. Photo credit: Vaughn Golden.
It’s official—New York State has no ethics! New York State Supreme Court Justice Thomas Marcelle ruled in favor of former Governor Andrew Cuomo, allowing him to keep the $5 million generated from his pandemic-era book deal and ruling that the Commission on Ethics and Lobbying in Government (COELIG) was unconstitutional. In his decision, Justice Marcelle argued, “Our Constitution, which so carefully allocates power among the three branches, will not permit those powers to be transferred to (an) independent commission amounting to an unsanctioned fourth branch of government.”
“Our Constitution, which so carefully allocates power among the three branches, will not permit those powers to be transferred to (an) independent commission amounting to an unsanctioned fourth branch of government.”
COELIG, which is tasked with enforcing ethics laws among lobbyists and elected officials, was created by Governor Kathy Hochul and the Legislature after the previous ethics body, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE) faced criticism on its independence. COELIG attempted to address that problem by empowering law school deans to approve ethics board appointments, but according to Justice Marcelle, that would require an amendment to the New York State Constitution. The Commission will appeal, but in the meantime, the ability of COELIG to enforce the law remains in limbo.
Last week we discussed the Suffolk County Executive race as an indicator for 2024. Another off-year election that could serve as a bellwether for 2024 is in Virginia where Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin cruised to victory in 2021 on his “compassionate conservatism” platform focused on parental rights and economic issues, including tax cuts.
Now, with every seat in the Legislature up for reelection, Youngkin has hit the campaign trail on behalf of fellow Republicans to try and replicate his 2021 success, particularly in suburban areas. The Democrats, who currently hold a slim majority in the state Senate, are hoping the energy around reproductive rights will help them hold their majority and possibly, flip the House.
One of those State House seats, a competitive district outside of Richmond, has received outsized media attention after adult videos of Democratic candidate Susanna Gibson and her husband were unearthed. The videos were originally posted to a website where users can live stream sex acts in exchange for tips. In a statement, Gibson said, “My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven they’re willing to commit a sex crime to attack me and my family because there’s no line they won’t cross to silence women when they speak up.”
“My political opponents and their Republican allies have proven they’re willing to commit a sex crime to attack me and my family because there’s no line they won’t cross to silence women when they speak up.”
The White House and President Biden have taken notice of the uphill battle State Democrats are facing in Virginia. The Democratic National Committee recently provided a $1.5 million influx to the Majority Project, a grassroots initiative aiming to flip the House of Delegates.
President Joe Biden and his campaign have also begun spending some money of their own. The Biden campaign is currently unveiling a 16-week, $25 million TV and digital ad buy in many key 2024 swing states, including Pennsylvania, Michigan, and Arizona. That level of sustained spending this early is a departure from traditional Presidential reelection campaigns, with former President Barack Obama forgoing any major ad buys until March of 2012 and Donald Trump waiting until October 2020. The Biden campaign’s desire to get on the airwaves early speaks to the changing media landscape, but also the political realities on the ground for the President.
A new poll found that while voters are beginning to feel more bullish on the economy, few credit Biden for the improvement. That disconnect poses a serious threat to the reelection campaign, even more so if economic improvements slow or stop altogether, a real possibility with the UAW strike, reinstatement of student loan payments, and a possible government shutdown looming. Many of the Biden campaign ads so far, including during the NFL season opener, have centered on how the President averted a potential recession and was able to achieve record low unemployment.
That said, the best thing President Biden has going for him is the current hijinks of the House GOP who may go too far in their quest to brand him as corrupt. House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, under pressure from his far-right members, announced a formal impeachment inquiry into President Biden. The Speaker did not cite any specific evidence of wrongdoing by the President, but said their investigations “paint a picture of a culture of corruption.” McCarthy moved forward with the inquiry without a full floor vote despite earlier this month saying any impeachment inquiry should be voted on by the entire House. The change is an admission that McCarthy lacked the votes within his own conference though it has not bought him much goodwill among his right flank who are still threatening a government shutdown.
Last week, far-right members in the House blocked an annual defense spending bill, forcing GOP leadership to pull the bill from the floor. That move and the barrage of threats from within his own Conference was apparently one too far for Speaker McCarthy who exploded in a meeting saying, “Go ahead. I’m not fucking scared of it. Any new speaker will do what I’m doing. If you think you scare me because you want to file a motion to vacate, move the fucking motion.”
“Go ahead. I’m not fucking scared of it. Any new speaker will do what I’m doing. If you think you scare me because you want to file a motion to vacate, move the fucking motion.”
When asked about the episode, McCarthy offered “I’m a little Irish.” Congress has just twelve calendar days to pass a FY 2024 spending bill or a short-term budget extender if they are to avoid a government shutdown. According to the Freedom Caucus, an influential group of far-right Republicans, a shutdown is inevitable. Rep. Ralph Norman told reporters, “Oh yeah, definitely there will be a shutdown.”
After nearly going extinct a decade ago, the long-term fiscal outlook for Twinkies has never looked better.
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OD&A in the News
Analysis: Contrast in Recent Siena Poll on Migrant Issue in New York
Our Jack O’Donnell says the new poll shows that many New Yorkers are conflicted over the recent influx of migrants. What’s the financial impact? Can the federal government help? Listen to more insight as Jack joins the WBEN ‘A New Morning Team’ here and WBEN reporter Tom Puckett here.
Do you support the State Supreme Court ruling declaring New York's new ethics commission unconstitutional?
Results of the Last Poll
Do you think the federal government should do more to help New York State/City with the migrant crisis?
New to the NYS Senate
Nathalia Fernandez is in her first term as a New York State Senator from the newly-redrawn District 34, covering the Bronx and Westchester. She previously served as an Assembly Member in the Bronx from 2018-2022.
Senator Fernandez worked for Assembly Member Mark Gjonaj from 2012 to 2018, ultimately serving as his Chief of Staff, and ran for his Assembly seat when he went to the City Council.
Senator Fernandez chairs the Senate Alcoholism & Substance Use Disorders Committee and works every day to help New York fight against the opioid crisis.
Senator Fernandez is a daughter of Cuban and Colombian immigrants. She is a graduate of Hofstra University.
OD&A in the Community
OD&A was there as the Hispanic Heritage Council of WNY celebrated the start of Hispanic Heritage Month by breaking ground on its new Hispanic Heritage Cultural Institute in Buffalo. The first of its kind in Upstate NY, the $30 million, three-story facility on Niagara Street will highlight Hispanic arts, culture, and history.
This Day in History
September 18, 1793
Wisconsin Republicans Vote to Fire Elections Director, Who Sues to Keep Her JobChanges to New York's driver violation point system include stiffer penaltiesChanges to New York's driver violation point system include stiffer penaltiesChanges to New York's driver violation point system include stiffer penalties