<![CDATA[NBC New York - Politics]]> Copyright 2014 http://www.nbcnewyork.com/news/politics http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/4NY_Horizontal.jpg NBC New York http://www.nbcnewyork.com en-us Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:35:50 -0400 Wed, 30 Jul 2014 05:35:50 -0400 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Blistering Report on Cuomo's Anti-Corruption Commission]]> Thu, 24 Jul 2014 07:26:28 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+ethics.jpg Gov. Andrew Cuomo declined to comment on a New York Times investigation that offers unprecedented detail on how he created a panel to tackle corruption -- then systematically blocked it from probing anything related to himself. Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo looked into that report.]]> <![CDATA[The Politics Behind LIRR Labor Deal]]> Fri, 18 Jul 2014 08:49:18 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/lirr+strike+averted+cuomo.jpg Does Gov. Cuomo deserve credit for averting a strike, or was this all just a scripted act of political theater? Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[No Evidence of Cuban Plot to Smear NJ Senator]]> Wed, 09 Jul 2014 07:07:27 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP265398688093.jpg

There is no credible evidence that Cuban government agents hatched a smear campaign to try to link U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez to an underage prostitution scandal, government officials tell NBC 4 New York.

Menendez, who is facing a federal corruption probe, said Tuesday that his lawyer wrote a letter to the Justice Department asking for an investigation into whether Cuban government spies tried to smear him.

“My lawyer did send a letter to the Department of Justice raising issues that have been since the very beginning, rumors that have come since the very beginning of the process about the Cuban government and others engaged in this process,” Menendez said.

Menendez, chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, also pointed to a Washington Post story that cited a former official and a source close to Menendez raising the question that Cuban agents might have been involved.

Justice Department officials said they have been looking into questions about the alleged prostitute smear campaign since it surfaced.

Two women who first claimed in an interview with a conservative website that they had paid sex with Menendez during his trips to the Dominican Republic have recanted those allegations.

Menendez, a Democrat, has been a vocal critic of the Cuban government. And he suggested that the government may have tried to affect the outcome of his 2012 campaign.

“If that is the case, there should be a clear investigation,” said Menendez.

In addition to the letter by Menendez attorney Stephen M. Ryan raising concerns about possible Cuban government involvement, U.S. officials said they only have uncorroborated claims and theories at this point about who could be behind the alleged smear.

This news comes as the Justice Department weighs whether to move forward with federal corruption charges against Menendez.

The senator has been facing scrutiny for his relationship with a Florida eye doctor and whether he improperly tried to affect the outcome of a Medicare overbilling dispute. Investigators want to know if the senator acted in exchange for free private jet trips and campaign donations from Dr. Salomon Melgen. The senator and Melgen have denied wrongdoing.

Investigators have said they are also looking into the senator’s relationship with two fugitive bankers from Ecuador. The FBI wants to know if the senator tried to help William and Roberto Isaias with their immigration issues in exchange for campaign donations from their relatives.

The Isaias and Menendez deny any unlawful conduct. 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Port Authority Hires Firm With Christie Ties: Report]]> Mon, 07 Jul 2014 22:58:01 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/chris+christie+june+2014.jpg

The Port Authority fast-tracked the hiring of a law firm with strong ties to Governor Christie and gave it millions of dollars in legal work after the Christie administration pressed officials to hire the firm in 2010, according to internal agency documents and two sources familiar with the firm’s selection.

Go to NorthJersey.com for the full version of this exclusive story

The firm, Dughi, Hewit & Domaleski, where Christie began his legal career and was a partner before becoming New Jersey’s top federal prosecutor in 2001, has earned at least $6.3 million from the Port Authority since 2010, records show. That is a significant sum for a law firm that has only about two dozen attorneys and had never done work for the Port Authority until Christie became governor.

Two former agency officials with knowledge of the hiring said Christie administration officials in Trenton instructed the Port Authority to find work for the Cranford-based firm in 2010, the same year Christie came into office. The opportunity arose later the same year when the Port Authority was sued over a controversial land deal in Bayonne and looked for outside legal representation.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Berkeley Set to Require Free Medical Pot for Poor]]> Fri, 04 Jul 2014 12:55:16 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/06-11-2014-medical-marijuana-generic.jpg

Medical marijuana dispensaries in Berkeley will likely soon be required to provide free pot to low-income members and homeless people, according to an ordinance approved by the city council on Tuesday.

The city is also looking to approve a fourth dispensary, raising the current limit of three locations.

The proposed ordinance, first reported by the East Bay Express, requires that Berkeley dispensaries give away two percent of the amount of cannabis they sell each year low-income people. And the pot can't be poor quality either. The proposed city ordinance reads (PDF) that the "medical cannabis provided under this section shall be the same quality on average" as marijuana "dispensed to other members."

“It’s sort of a cruel thing that when you are really ill and you do have a serious illness... it can be hard to work, it can be hard to maintain a job and when that happens, your finances suffer and then you can’t buy the medicine you need,” said Sean Luce with the Berkeley Patients Group.

In order to be eligible, a person must qualify for exemption from local taxes and fees, an income level that's set every year by the city council. That equates to $32,000 a year for one person and $46,000 a year for a family of four.

The ordinance is awaiting final approval, but could become law in August.



Photo Credit: NBC Bay Area]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things to Know About New House GOP Leader McCarthy]]> Thu, 19 Jun 2014 19:30:24 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/450883992.jpg

House Republicans selected a new majority leader Thursday, tapping  Rep. Kevin McCarthy to the conference's No. 2 post.

The California native replaces outgoing House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, who was handed a surprising defeat by a little-known GOP challenger in Virgnia's primary election

The promotion puts the 49-year-old McCarthywho has quickly risen through the leadership ranks during his four terms in Congress, next in line to potentially succeed House Speaker John Boehner.

Here are five things you may not know about the new majority leader:

He got his (lucky) start in sandwiches.

A young McCarthy used a $5,000 lottery prize to start his own business, opening a sandwich shop called Kevin O's Deli at age 19. The shop he has descibed as "Subway before there was Subway," offered "fresh Dutch Krunch white rolls every day," and sandwiches "hot upon request," according to The Orange County Register. McCarthy says he used the profits from later selling that deli to finance his college education. The experience of building a business before hitting 21, he says, helped shape his views on limited government regulations and taxes.

He sees (some of) himself in “House of Cards.”

When Netflix’s popular political drama debuted in 2013, a few things felt a little too familiar to McCarthy, who, like the show’s fictional lead, Rep. Francis Underwood, served as majority whip. That framed whip hanging in Underwood’s office? A spitting image of the one McCarthy received as a gift from Cantor. The scene where Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey, tells members “Vote your district, vote your conscience, don't surprise me"? Sounds strikingly like what McCarthy says he tells his own conference. The real-life whip believes those nods came out of a meet-and-greet he had with Spacey before the show started filming. He says the similarities between him and Underwood, a Democrat known for his duplicitous and Machiavellian ways, stop at those superficial references, though. "This one is made professionally about Washington, but it's not Washington," he said of the show during an appearance in Sacramento. "Don't believe what you see in there, but it's intriguing."

He co-starred with Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the California state Capitol, that is. McCarthy, first elected to represent his home district in Kern County in the state Legislature in 2002, rose to leader of the Assembly’s Republican caucus during his first term. That put him at the bargaining table with then-Gov. Schwarzenegger, who entered office via a 2003 recall election, on state budget negotiations and other major issues facing the Golden State. McCarthy left California's Capitol for the halls of Congress after the 2006 election, when he won the House seat vacated by his own political mentor and former boss, former Republican Rep. Bill Thomas.

He’s an all-star Instagrammer.

McCarthy’s filter-laden Instagram account has attracted more than 12,000 followers to date. While cameos from the likes of Beyonce, Ringo Star and cute dogs don’t hurt, the GOP congressman also uses the social platform to post behind-the-scenes photos from his political and personal life (including frequent “Throwback Thursday” pictures). His social media savvy led BuzzFeed to name him the “best Republican congressman on Instagram” in 2013.

 


He splits with some GOP conservatives on immigration.

McCarthy hails from one of the nation's bluest states. But the California native hasn’t strayed much from the GOP line in his own time in office, voting with his party 96 percent of the time, according to one Washington Post analysis.  Still, he's split with the more conservative factions of his caucus on at least one key issue seen as a potential factor in Cantor’s primary defeat: immigration reform. Unlike his tea party-aligned colleagues, McCarthy has expressed support for creating a path to legal status for the country’s undocumented immigrants. His campaign for majority leader drew criticism from some conservative commentators, who blasted his backing of immigration reform, Sandy relief funding and a budget compromise. Despite some differences in ideology and style, McCarthy, a skilled networker and social butterfly, has made many friends in Washington, thanks in part to his success in raising cash and building a program to train and support up-and-coming candidates.
 

 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Judge Orders Astorino Supporters Off Independence Party Enrollment]]> Tue, 17 Jun 2014 19:47:53 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WNBC_000000004219199_1200x675_283152451719.jpg Did the Westchester County Executive and Republican nominee for governor really threaten to dismember his political rivals? That’s what Independence party officials are accusing Rob Astorino and his fellow Republicans of doing while trying to stage a hostile takeover of their smaller party. Government Affairs Reporter Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[NBC's Chuck Todd: Why Cantor Lost]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 22:35:52 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000006784560_1200x675_278401091860.jpg NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd explains what led to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor's stunning loss in the 7th District.]]> <![CDATA[Fans Line Up for 4 Seconds With Hillary Clinton]]> Tue, 10 Jun 2014 16:42:36 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/212*120/hillary-book-signing.JPG

Hundreds of people lined up at a Manhattan bookstore to meet Hillary Rodham Clinton for four seconds and have the potential 2016 presidential candidate sign a copy of her new book being released Tuesday.

The Barnes & Noble store in Union Square had wristbands to give out to the first 1,000 people in line, who were told they'd get four seconds with Clinton and could not pose for photos with her. She was expected to sign copies of her book, "Hard Choices," for about two hours.

"It's really about the hard choices everybody has to make in life," she told the crowd before sitting down.

Sean Brennan, of Queens, said he stood in line because he wants to tell her to run for president again.

"I know it's selfish but please, please give us eight more years," he told NBC News.

The former Democratic senator from New York says she has not decided whether to run again.

Clinton's book was released Tuesday amid a media blitz of television interviews that touched on a wide range of topics, including the tough 2008 campaign.

The former secretary of state told NBC's Cynthia McFadden for an interview airing Tuesday on Nightly News that her advice for a younger version of herself would be to not take everything so personally.

"I would say that what I have learned and really incorporated since – to take criticism seriously, but not personally, not to be so anxious and worried about everything that everybody says and try to figure out how to incorporate that into your thinking," she said.

Clinton said the White House reviewed the book before it was published but did not ask for any changes.

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<![CDATA[Ex-DA Used Money From Criminals: DOI]]> Sat, 07 Jun 2014 10:19:43 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP797902109507.jpg

Former longtime Brooklyn district attorney Charles Hynes is accused of misusing hundreds of thousands of dollars seized from criminal suspects to pay for a political consultant, according to a report by the city’s Department of Investigation.

The DOI report alleges Hynes may have engaged in crimes of official misconduct and larceny.

Hynes is also accused of using his office computer to send hundreds of campaign-related emails in the recent bitter campaign he lost to current Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson.

The report also alleges that criminal court Judge Barry Kamins may have violated judicial ethics by actively advising Hynes in his campaign, including exchanging more than 300 emails with Hynes during the recent campaign. 

The report detailing Hynes' alleged misuse of asset forfeiture funds has been referred to the state attorney general’s office for possible criminal investigation, sources familiar with the case tell NBC 4 New York.

Consultant Mortimer Matz billed $2,682 per week to the Kings County District Attorney’s office, the report said. Matz’s firm was paid more than $1.1 million out of state asset forfeiture funds from 2003 through 2013, the DOI report alleges.

Hynes declined comment except to say, "I will respond in the proper form." A call to his one-time campaign manager was not returned.

The DOI report said Hynes “extensively used” his office email “for purposes relating to his re-election campaign." DOI said Hynes was using his office computer to communicate with political consultants, and with Matz.

Matz, a fixture at Hynes' official news conferences, declined to comment on the report.

DOI spokeswoman Diane Struzzi said the “report speaks for itself and we will have no further comment.”

The report details emails like one dated Oct. 15, 2012 where Hynes discusses the “June Primary" and one on Feb. 6, 2013 in which Hynes allegedly received an email discussing video opportunities for “Hynes Team!!! Victory."

The DOI report points out that it is a violation of the city charter to use city resources for any non-city purpose.

As for Kamins, the DOI report alleges the judge engaged in political activity while he was a sitting judge and used his office to try to advance Hynes’ political goals. Part of that effort included using his connections to the New York Law Journal to try to obtain positive media coverage for Hynes, the report alleges.

Rules of the chief administrative judge provide that judges should not engage in political activity.

A court spokesman said Kamins has been "relieved of all of his administrative duties both as overseeing policy and planning and in overseeing New York City's criminal courts."

Kamins is currently on annual leave, the spokesman said. 

Kamins' attorney Paul Shectman did not immediately return phone calls.

-Andrew Siff contributed to this report

Below: Read the Department of Investigation's report 



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Public Advocate Backtracks on School Lunch Comments]]> Fri, 30 May 2014 19:57:21 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/School-Lunch-generic.jpg Earlier this week the New York City Council ripped into the de Blasio administration for rejecting a proposal to offer free lunch to every child in public school regardless of financial ability. The heated debate inspired particular outrage from Public Advocate Letitia James who said “free lunch for all” had big name backers like Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Government Reporter Melissa Russo reports.]]> <![CDATA[Bush Has Knee Surgery in Chicago ]]> Tue, 27 May 2014 20:53:35 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/AP13042414604.jpg

President George W. Bush traveled to Chicago over the Memorial Day weekend to have a knee replacement surgery at the Rush University Medical Center's Midwest Orthopaedics.

The former president had outpatient surgery on Saturday, multiple sources familiar with the surgery told NBC Chicago, and stayed at the Peninsula Hotel on Michigan Avenue until he returned home to Dallas on Monday. 

His wife Laura and a Secret Service contingent stayed with him during the weekend surgical visit. Rather than stay at Rush Medical center, doctors visited the former president at his hotel. 

A representative from the former president's office confirmed to NBC News on Tuesday that Bush had "successful partial knee replacement on Saturday." He said Bush came home to Dallas on Sunday and is "doing great."

It's not clear which of Bush's knees was replaced. In 2004, Time Magazine reported that the 43rd president had torn a meniscus in his knee, but which knee was never made clear. 

The president gave up jogging because of the bad knee and started mountain biking in May 2004, according to reports.  

Rush University is considered a leader in joint replacement surgery



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[NY Governor's Race on Parade on Memorial Day]]> Mon, 26 May 2014 20:32:49 -0400 http://media.nbcnewyork.com/images/213*120/cuomo+astorino.jpg The two men battling in New York’s governor’s race hit the bricks and the campaign trail this Memorial Day. Governor Andrew Cuomo attended ceremonies on Staten Island and in Queens. Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, Cuomo’s Republican challenger, marched in Chappaqua’s Memorial Day parade. Andrew Siff reports.]]>