Here’s a scenario that could play out in the coming weeks: the various state and federal investigations into Gov. Andrew Cuomo could determine he’s acted inappropriately, but lack the proof needed to take further action against him. All eyes — and especially those of the governor’s critics — would very likely turn to the Assembly, which has launched an impeachment investigation into the governor.
The wrinkle? The New York Constitution doesn’t give many clues about what qualifies as grounds for impeachment.
There’s only one meaningful precedent — the 1913 impeachment of Gov. William Sulzer. And the takeaway from that case was simple, our Bill Mahoney writes this morning. “An impeachable offense is whatever members of the Assembly serving at any moment in time think it should be.”
Prior to that, the clearest standard was in one of the state’s post-independence constitutions: “[T]he power of impeaching all officers of the state, for mal and corrupt conduct in their respective offices, [shall] be vested in the representatives of the people in Assembly.” But even if Albany could agree on what “mal and corrupt” means in 2021, it wouldn’t matter. That part of the constitution, along with all definitions of impeachable offense, was struck in a 1846 rewrite.
Then came 1913, when Tammany Hall boss Charles F. Murphy and his allies decided to go after Sulzer for his personal use of campaign contributions, and the lawmaking majorities primarily ignored any statutory guidelines raised that would limit their ability to kick Sulzer out. They did, and more than 100 years later, there has not been a serious attempt to roll back the Legislature’s unfettered impeachment powers.
Today, any choices the Assembly might make regarding Cuomo fall under the same description given by Sulzer biographer Jack O’Donnell: “It’s a political decision and not a legal distinction that is hemmed in by different classes of law.”
WHERE’S ANDREW? No public schedule yet.
WHERE’S BILL? Holding a media availability and appearing on NY1’s Inside City Hall.
Hotel workers union launches blitz for Adams, Johnson, by POLITICO’s Sally Goldenberg: A union representing city hotel workers, whose livelihoods were devastated by Covid-19, is planning a $2 million push on ads and voter outreach for mayoral candidate Eric Adams, comptroller hopeful Corey Johnson and a slate of City Council contenders. The initiative will be run by longtime union strategist Neal Kwatra through the political action committee Hotel Workers for Stronger Communities, which has $1 million on hand and is expecting to secure another $1 million, Kwatra said. It comes as outside money from special interests floods the mayor’s race ahead of the June 22 Democratic primary election: A spending effort for candidate Shaun Donovan, bankrolled by his father, already has earmarked $4.3 million for TV ads; another for Ray McGuire has spent $1.7 million on cable buys. And in recent weeks, fundraising pushes for Andrew Yang as well as Adams have gotten underway. The Hotel Trade Council’s effort begins with money in the bank and a plan for “an aggressive public education campaign focused on the city’s hundreds of thousands of hotel and hospitality workers and working-class New Yorkers more broadly,” Kwatra said.
— Adams is struggling to galvanize younger voters.
Mayoral candidates clash over public safety after Times Square shooting, by POLITICO’s Erin Durkin: A triple shooting in Times Square this weekend prompted a clash among New York City mayoral candidates over how to tackle spiking rates of gun violence. Near the scene where a 4-year-old girl and two women were shot, Andrew Yang denounced the movement to defund the police on Sunday, asserting his support for the NYPD in his strongest terms yet. “The truth is that New York City cannot afford to defund the police,” said Yang, noting the shooting took place just blocks from his Hell’s Kitchen home… “My message to the NYPD is this: New York needs you. Your city needs you. We need you to do your jobs professionally, responsibly and justly, and as you do these things, the people of New York will have your backs. I will have your back.” …
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams, who has focused intently on the increase in shootings, made his own appearance in Times Square and denounced Yang as a latecomer to the issue. “You know what, Andrew, these shootings have been happening blocks from my house for years, and blocks from the house of poorer New Yorkers for years,” Adams said. “Shame on you for not realizing that.” … While the two frontrunners jousted to show their pro-police credentials, attorney Maya Wiley took a different tack at her own event responding to the shooting.
— NYPD statistics show gun-related incidents have doubled since the same time last year.
“‘No Doubt in My Mind’: Scott Stringer’s Accuser Details Harassment Claims,” by The New York Times’ Katie Gleuck: “He was an ambitious state assemblyman and a rising star in the liberal hothouse of Upper West Side politics. She was a New York newcomer, born in South Korea, raised in Ohio and eager to break into the city’s thriving Democratic scene. The two — Scott M. Stringer and Jean Kim — would eventually play central roles in this year’s New York City mayor’s race. But their paths first intersected more than 20 years ago, initially at political events, and then more intensely as Mr. Stringer ran an unsuccessful campaign for public advocate in 2001… In an interview at her Manhattan apartment last week, Ms. Kim described three instances during the campaign of unwanted touching in taxis, and she said Mr. Stringer had kissed her and groped her at a bar without her consent … ‘He constantly reminded me of his power by saying things like, “You want me to make a phone call for you to change your life,” “You want me to make you the first Asian district leader,”’ Ms. Kim said.”
— Handful of remaining endorsers stick by Stringer, by POLITICO’s Erin Durkin: Embattled mayoral hopeful Scott Stringer mustered his few remaining high-profile supporters to campaign for him on Sunday as he tries to salvage his City Hall bid after accusations of sexual misconduct. Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten, Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), and former Manhattan Borough President Ruth Messinger appeared with Stringer on the Upper West Side, where they explained their decisions to stick to their endorsements and criticized the left-leaning groups and politicians that fled Stringer’s campaign en masse.
Yang poised to win most of the city’s powerful Orthodox leaders, by Hannah Dreyfus for POLITICO: Andrew Yang is close to locking down almost universal support among leaders of New York City’s ultra-Orthodox community — a loyal bloc of voters that can make or break a mayoral candidate. Within the next week or so, the leading mayoral candidate — who has already won the support of Orthodox political and religious leaders in Brooklyn’s Borough Park and Midwood sections — is expected to get the biggest prize of all: an endorsement from the Satmar rabbis in Williamsburg, the most populous Hasidic neighborhood in New York. Yang has not been shy about courting the city’s powerful Orthodox community.
THE MONEY RACE — A campaign war chest indicates both support from voters and viability in the nation’s number-one media market. But top-line figures don’t tell the full story. We crunched five campaign-finance stats for the New York City Democratic mayoral primary to put together this list. — Joe Anuta and Andrew McGill
FIRST IN PLAYBOOK — Disgraced ex-Council Member Andy King has reupped a federal lawsuit contesting his ouster from elected office. Borrowing a page from a former colleague, a sprawling complaint filed last week alleges that the city’s legislative branch is influenced by a powerful pro-LGBTQ faction that targeted the former Bronx lawmaker for not falling into line. “King is a black man and a devout Christian who believes that sex between members of the same sex is a detestable sin and that the Bible teaches that same-gender sexual relations are an abomination,” King’s attorney, Nathanial Smith, wrote in the amended complaint. For good measure, King’s suit references a Bible verse suggesting that men who have sex with each other should be murdered. King launched his lawsuit in October after he was expelled from the Council in relation to three ethics inquiries. Council spokesperson Jennifer Fermino called it “outrageously offensive and particularly hateful to the LGBTQ community.” — Joe Anuta
— Manhattan DA candidate Eliza Orlins is launching her first ad today, featuring her work as a public defender. Orlins says she’s spending nearly $400,000 on the ad buy but will run it digitally, not on TV. She said other candidates will “blanket the television with ads that lie about their so-called progressive records… That’s just not us.” The ad cites the 3,000 clients she has worked for as a public defender. “And three thousand is how many times I’ve seen the system destroy families and futures — while those who can buy justice, buy it,” the spot says.
ON THE TRAIL — Eric Adams was endorsed in Sunset Park Saturday by local civic group Friends of Chinese Americans. “I know many people now are trying to say that they are your friends,” he said, in seeming reference to competitor Andrew Yang. “You don’t need new friends when you have a good, old friend in Eric Adams.” While Adams has cultivated relationships in areas such as Sunset Park and Flushing — neighborhoods that are home to significant Chinese and Taiwanese communities and key to building upon his base in Central Brooklyn — Yang has made inroads to those same enclaves since entering the race in January. — Joe Anuta
“Family doctors could be key to prodding vaccine-reluctant New Yorkers,” by Buffalo News’ Tom Precious: “With growing concern about a drop in Covid vaccination rates in New York, the Cuomo administration and localities are looking at incentives – from free booze to ballgame tickets to retail store discounts – as a hesitancy antidote. But might that arsenal be more complete by better involving what surveys suggest is the most trustworthy advice when it comes to information about Covid vaccines: the family doctor? ‘Primary care physicians are probably going to be the best messenger to convince wait-and-see people to get vaccinated … Primary care physicians’ primary concern is the health of their patients, and they’ve been on the front lines of providing vaccines for years,’ said Dr. John Fudyma, chief medical officer of Latus Medical Care, an Amherst practice. Physicians’ offices were mostly permitted late in the game to offer their patients vaccines, as the state initially focused efforts on mass vaccine sites, pop-up centers and pharmacies. Some anger over that decision lingers.
— The state has relaxed rules so that all U.S. residents 16 and older can get the vaccine here, removing a residency requirement that was in place previously. This would seem to allow de Blasio to go forward with his plan to vaccinate tourists.
— Nearly 60 percent of adults in New York state have received at least one dose of the Covid vaccine.
“Andrew Cuomo Investigation Expands as State Attorney General Looks at Aide’s Calls,” by Wall Street Journal’s Jimmy Vielkind: “The state attorney general’s office has expanded its investigation of sexual-harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo to look at whether one of his top advisers linked access to Covid-19 vaccines to support for the governor, according to people familiar with the matter. Investigators have interviewed at least three Democratic county executives who said they were surprised to receive calls from Larry Schwartz, a volunteer adviser who oversaw vaccine distribution for the state, asking whether they would be calling for Mr. Cuomo’s resignation, the people said.
CUOMOLAND MOVES: The governor announced a slate of new administration appointments. The new roles include Dana Carotenuto as chief of staff to replace Jill DesRosiers, who is on maternity leave. Rich Azzopardi will add director of communications back to his senior adviser title, and Colin Brennan has been appointed senior deputy communications director. Jennifer Givner — formerly at the Thruway Authority — has been appointed acting press secretary for the chamber and Frank Hoare is moving to the Thruway Authority as general counsel.
“Ex-NYS Senate leader Malcolm Smith also released early from prison,” by New York Post’s Carl Campanile: “Former state Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith was quietly sprung early from prison last year — and is being allowed to complete the remainder of his seven-year public corruption sentence at his home in Queens, The Post has learned. News of Smith’s home confinement comes after ex-Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was furloughed for a few days after having served less than a year of six-and-a-half year sentence for corruption — but was quickly ordered back to the clink by federal authorities.”
“Nursing homes face high vacancies amid pandemic, raising fears for future,” Newsday’s Michael Gormley: “The vacancy rate at nursing homes in New York has jumped to three times the pre-pandemic level and is raising fears about the fiscal viability of the facilities, according to state records obtained by Newsday. Driving the historic vacancy rate are the more than 15,000 deaths of nursing home residents from COVID-19 combined with families who are increasingly reluctant to send their relatives to the homes, said home operators and researchers in the field.
— “Droves of NY nursing home staffers still not vaccinated against COVID-19,” by New York Post’s Bernadette Hogan and Carl Campanile
“New York promises for Frontier Town fall short,” by Times Union’s Rick Karlin: “All that was needed were some deep-pocketed investors who, state officials said, were certain to respond to a request for proposals, or RFP, put out by the Empire State Development agency. But now many are wondering what happened. To be sure, the state did build a campground on the site and they expect a busy summer. And a craft brewery has moved from nearby Schroon Lake. But the most visible changes may be coming from an independent gas station owner who, with no state help, has purchased and is renovating the landmark A-frame building that was the entrance to Frontier Town. The A-frame was not part of the state’s purchase.”
#UpstateAmerica: Do incentives work? “Free beer offer results in more vaccinations than all Erie County first-dose clinics last week.”
Stefanik privately pledges to serve only through 2022 in House GOP leadership, by POLITICO’s Melanie Zanona and Olivia Beavers: Rep. Elise Stefanik is only looking to serve one term in GOP leadership. The New York Republican is telling her GOP colleagues that she intends to finish out the rest of this current cycle as conference chair if she is ultimately elevated to the No. 3 leadership position, according to multiple Republican lawmakers familiar with the conversations.
— Top Cuomo staffers tried to build up union support for Brad Hoylman’s candidacy for Manhattan Borough President.
— Republicans are fighting to hang on to their last City Council seat in Queens.
— Heshy Tischler, the Borough Park right-wing radio host running for City Council, pleaded guilty to charges he incited a crowd to attack a journalist last fall and was sentenced to community service.
— Alcohol to-go has been extended to June 5.
— Only 41 percent of the more than 70,000 MTA workers have received at least one coronavirus vaccine dose.
— De Blasio was non-committal on whether the city will allow public school students to opt for remote learning next fall.
— The Catholic diocese of Buffalo is looking to move forward after declaring bankruptcy in February amid the church’s sexual abuse scandal.
— Public defenders say the Bronx DA has been slow to drop open marijuana cases after the drug was legalized.
— Planners and officials on Long Island are lobbying for a high-speed rail line from New York City to Boston via the island (and then under Long Island Sound).
HAPPY BIRTHDAY: NY Mag’s Gabe Debenedetti … Adam Janofsky … Will Serio … Lucy Jackson … Maggie Karchmer of Wiley Rein … Aaron Twerski … Stephen M. Ross … Jason Schreier … (was Sunday): NYT’s Mark Leibovich and Ezra Klein … POLITICO’s Victoria Guida … Nihal Krishan … Fox News’ Dana Perino, Garrett Tenney and Jordan Powell … Chris Ullman of Ullman Communications … Harvard’s David Gergen, a CNN senior political analyst … (was Saturday): NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio turned 6-0 … CNN’s Ed Meagher … Qorvis’ Grace Fenstermaker … NBC News’ Clare Hiler … Naomi Klein
WEEKEND WEDDING — Amanda Stout, senior press officer for the Senate majority conference, married Samuel Parker, Gov. Cuomo’s Capital Region representative, on Saturday, May 1 in the bride’s hometown of Montgomery, Ala. The pair met while they were both students at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. Pic
MAKING MOVES — Caitlin Girouard is now senior manager for media relations at PayPal. She most recently was press secretary for Gov. Cuomo and is also a Amy Klobuchar and Sean Patrick Maloney alum. … Per the Westchester and Fairfield County Business Journals: “C.D. Glin has been named vice president and global head of philanthropy for the PepsiCo Foundation, effective May 17. Glin is currently president and CEO of the U.S. African Development Foundation.”
“At Developer’s Urging, NYPD Cracks Down On Hudson Yards Street Vendors,” by Gothamist’s Jake Offenhartz: “Nearly a year after Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged to remove the NYPD from street vendor enforcement, a group of pushcart owners say they’re facing a new police crackdown — the latest escalation, they allege, in an ongoing eviction campaign waged by the Hudson Yards developer Related Companies. On two days this week, police officers issued a total of four summonses to cart operators on 33rd Street between 10th and 11th Avenue in Manhattan. In one video shared with Gothamist, an NYPD officer can be seen talking to a Hudson Yards security guard, before telling the angry vendors: ‘This has nothing to do with us. They don’t want you on their property.’ While the Related Companies’ mega-development spans an unprecedented 18 million square feet, it does not include the public sidewalk on 33rd Street.”
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