Archive for the tag 'republicans'

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

The race for the 45th District of the State Assembly lives on!

Ben Akselrod, a Democrat, has scored the Republican nomination for the 45th Assembly race, allowing him to continue his challenge against incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz until election day on November 4.

Akselrod, president of the Bay Democrats political club, received the most write-in votes – 46 in all – during the Republican primary, allowing him to steal the GOP line for the general election.

There were no candidates backed by the party in the primary, which would normally mean there is no primary and thus no general election candidate. But Republican voters, which sources say were organized by the Akselrod campaign, filed petitions requesting an “opportunity to ballot,” forcing the party to hold a primary to gather write-in votes. The results of the write-ins became public last week.

Steven Cymbrowitz received the second highest amount of write-in votes with 27. There were 11 more write-ins who received one vote each, and Russian media mogul Gregory Davidzon snagged two write-in votes. Another 31 write-ins were illegible.

That allows Akselrod to move forward to the general election, but it’s still not clear if he’s going to actively campaign for the seat. Akselrod has not returned a request for comment.

The latest campaign filing for Akselrod shows he only has $3,986.22 on hand. Cymbrowitz, meanwhile, has $36,650.18.

Ozzie Heymann, Akselrod’s campaign manager during the primary, said he wasn’t sure of the candidate’s plans and if he’ll be involved in the general election campaign.

“I don’t know that there would be a campaign. If there would be, I assume that I would be involved. But that hasn’t been decided yet,” Heymann said.

Another close Akselrod supporter, Democratic District Leader Ari Kagan, said Akselrod is unlikely to have a decision before October 15, when the Jewish holidays end. That would leave less than a month to campaign.

The development itself also puts Kagan in an awkward position. In 2012, Kagan unseated longtime district leader Michael Geller, largely on the criticism that Geller had a record of supporting Republican candidates. Now his good friend, political ally, and the chosen president of his Democratic club is running on the GOP line.

Kagan, who is openly critical of Cymbrowitz, said he will stay on the sidelines if Akselrod decides to campaign.

“I’m the Democratic district leader, a strong democrat,” said Kagan. “If [Akselrod] runs as a Republican, there’s a 99 percent chance that I will not support the Republican nominee. But that doesn’t mean I will support the Democratic nominee. I never said anywhere I would just support anyone.”

Kagan also said that he and Akselrod previously discussed the possibility that Akselrod would win the Republican line, and it comes with a consequence.

“If he decides to run on the Republican line, he’ll resign from the Bay Democrats. That’s for sure,” he said.

Despite losing the primary election to Cymbrowitz in 2012, Akselrod was able to move onto the general election on the Independence Party line. That created a three-way race with Russ Gallo as a Republican. Gallo and Akselrod combined took home just shy of 45 percent of the vote, while Cymbrowitz took 55 percent of the vote. Akselrod alone had 19 percent of the vote.

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Akselrod (l) and Cymbrowitz (r)

Nobody beats the ‘witz, at least not in the 2014 primary elections.

Fourteen-year incumbent Steven Cymbrowitz won his party’s nod for reelection to the 45th Assembly District last night in one of the closest elections in the borough. But it was a solid victory for the local pol, who bested challenger Ben Akselrod by a margin nearly double that won during his 2012 matchup against the same candidate.

Cymbrowitz gave his victory speech just before 11pm last night, when his team had tallied up initial reports from approximately 70 percent of precincts.

“It was a terrific campaign. We more than doubled our victory from two years ago,” he said of the preliminary numbers that came in before all votes were counted. “I want to thank every part of my community … This was really very, very special.”

Preliminary results from the Board of Elections show Cymbrowitz with 2,137 votes, or 57.2 percent of the total, versus Ben Akselrod’s 1,599 votes, or 42.8 percent. In both percentage and actual votes, Cymbrowitz showed sizable gains over his opponent, who he beat by just eight points, or 294 votes in 2012. The margin this year was 538 votes, or 14 points.

Voters may not have seen the last of Ben Akselrod in this campaign season, however. The candidate filed an opportunity to ballot on the Republican line, a procedure that could have him in the general election if he organized enough write-in votes from Republican voters yesterday. The Board of Election will take several weeks to count, review and certify those ballots to make it official.

The win appeared to surprise some political observers, who believed Cymbrowitz’s strength had been diminished by the growing political influence of Russian and Jewish voters in the district that they believed would fall more heavily to Askelrod, who is both Russian and Orthodox Jewish.

It was a tough fought and, at times, nasty campaign, with allegations of voter harassment on the Sabbath, mysterious race-tinged fliers, and anonymous phone calls that attacked the incumbent’s wife for not being Jewish.

Cymbrowitz alluded to one of those negative attacks in his victory speech.

“I particularly want to thank [my wife] Vilma for not only being a great support, but keeping her cool when she had to when the attacks started coming,” he said.

Cymbrowitz will now move on to the general elections on November 4, where he’ll face off against Mikhail Usher, who is running on the Conservative Party line, and possibly Akselrod on the Republican line.

grimm2

Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm faces a 20-count indictment for tax evasion and illegal employment practices stemming from a restaurant he operated before running for Congress, charges he said are because the nation’s commander-and-chief wants to see him gone.

Grimm made the allegations against the Obama administration on Tuesday before a gathering of Republican supporters rallying for gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino. He also compared the United States to oppressive regimes in Iran and North Korea.

New York Observer reported on the statements:

“They change policy, they use regulation to legislate, they circumvent the Congress–this is now the norm for the Obama administration,” Mr. Grimm fumed at the Bay Ridge Manor in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.

“And when you look and see why they come after me so hard, every day another negative story [against] the only Republican in New York City, it becomes obvious: they don’t want any opposition. This administration wants to do what it wants to do and they want you to forget about the America that you grew up in,” he said.

… “Sometimes I wake up in the morning and I’m not sure what country I’m living in,” he said. “Four Americans are killed and murdered in Benghazi–no one’s held accountable …. The IRS, arguably the most feared agency in our entire government targeting people because of their political views. Now this happens in Iran, this happens in North Korea, but this is the United States of America.”

The site reported that the statements “drew loud cheers.”

Grimm has long maintained that the investigation against him, which began as a probe into his 2010 campaign fundraising, was a “political witch hunt” by Democrats looking to see the city’s lone Republican congressman unseated. Prosecutors, however, have submitted paperwork to the court suggesting that Grimm’s own documents show he kept two sets of books and paid employees – some of which were undocumented immigrants – in cash to avoid taxes.

Grimm’s assertion that he is the subject of political retaliation has sparked snark from colleagues, including State Senator Diane Savino. The pol, whose district is largely within Grimm’s, let forth a tirade on Facebook about Grimm’s conspiracy theory back in April:

[G]et a grip folks, Mikey is not that important, he is no threat to the power structure, he is a slick talker with a nice resume who seems to be in trouble. he was not on track for greatness as a national leader, not on track to upset the national scene. Conspiracy, please….

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm kept a cell phone registered to his undercover, mob-connected FBI alter-ego years after leaving the job, and continued to use the phone while in Congress, according to a Daily News report.

The paper cites documents released by the U.S. Attorney earlier this week that outlines their evidence in their case against Grimm, who is accused of a $1 million tax fraud scheme, as well as illegal hiring and employment practices.

The paper reports:

Rep. Michael Grimm, who posed as a mobbed-up stockbroker named Michael (Mikey Suits) Garabaldi while working undercover for the FBI, kept his wise-guy alter ego even after entering Congress, newly unsealed federal documents show.

Grimm’s cell phone was listed under a “Michael Garibaldi of Centurian Consulting” as recently as 2012, when prosecutors sought a court order for permission to track all his calls, the documents show.

The embattled Staten Island Republican, who is now under federal indictment, used the phone as his primary number as recently as last year, and even received mail addressed to a Michael Garibaldi, a source told The Daily News.

Grimm, his spokesman and his lawyer did not respond to questions Wednesday about why he used the alias more than six years after leaving the FBI — and for at least two years after entering the U.S. House in January 2011.

The story also reveals the extent of the investigation into Grimm’s 2010 campaign fundraising. That investigation came to light shortly after it began in 2012, first noted by the New York Times, yet it was unclear how far-reaching it was. The new documents show that not only were Grimm’s phone lines were being monitored by authorities, but also that of gal pal Diana Durand, who has been indicted for her alleged role in funneling illegal funds to the Republican pol, and Grimm associates Ofer Biton and Ronn Torossian, who they believed, along with Grimm, has attempted to extort money from prominent Orthodox Rabbi Yosef Pinto.

Biton has also been arrested, and is cooperating in the government’s case against Grimm.

Grimm did not respond to the paper’s requests for comment, or those of the Staten Island Advance.

In fact, he appears to be dodging questions about the investigation, having made headlines yet again this week for jumping into a car and making a getaway from this FOX Detroit reporter:

grimm2

Grimm

Federal prosecutors have released documents outlining the government’s case against Congressman Michael Grimm, revealing that Grimm’s own texts and e-mails are being entered as evidence alongside testimony from former employees and business associates.

The Daily News reports:

The preliminary list of evidence includes emails between Grimm and a “Healthalicious manager,” “documents provided by a cooperat[ing] witness,” and “records provided by a Healthalicious employee.” Also listed are “text messages between Grimm and a cooperating witness.”

The list of evidence indicates a seemingly straightforward federal case. Prosecutors plan to prove Grimm maintained a false set of books and lied in financial filings. They will contrast the phony forms with material provided by cooperating witnesses, and with Grimm’s own statements in texts and emails.

Prosecutors are turning over an extensive list of financial documents. Those include years of tax, health and labor filings by Healthalicious and its parent company, Granny Sayz, records of Grimm’s personal finances, the restaurant’s accounts, bank account and credit card records and financial disclosure forms Grimm filed in Congress from 2009 to 2012.

Prosecutors are also offering as evidence the IRS 1040 forms filed by Bennett Ofraly, Grimm’s partner in the restaurant who prosecutors say has ties to the Gambino crime family, which Grimm once investigated while an FBI agent.

Grimm pleaded not guilty to the 20-count indictment alleging the local pol hid more than $1 million in sales at a business he owned to avoid paying taxes, as well as illegally employing undocumented immigrants.

The charges surround the operations of Upper East Side eatery Healthalicious, a venture he ran from 2007 to 2010. However, he’s also charged with perjury for lying to investigators about the business’ operations when he was questioned in 2013, while already serving in the House of Representatives.

It appears the case will not be resolved until after the November 4 elections, in which he faces a challenge from Democrat Domenic Recchia.

grimm

Congressman Michael Grimm has been barred from visiting the FBI’s New York field offices since he left the agency eight years ago, calling into question if the embattled representative left on good terms as he frequently claims.

The Grimm prohibition was discovered by DNAinfo, which reports:

Federal security personnel at the FBI’s headquarters in Lower Manhattan and a satellite office in Kew Gardens, Queens, posted Grimm’s photo inside their glass-enclosed stations in the event he showed up, sources said.

They were under orders to stop him and to immediately notify higher authorities on what further action to take, according to the sources.

“He is not permitted in our space,” one source told “On The Inside.”

“He is not welcome,” a former top FBI official said.

Grimm was hit with a 20-count indictment last Monday, alleging tax fraud and illegal hiring practices at an Upper East Side eatery he ran after his stint in the FBI, and before he ran for Congress. The U.S. Attorney’s office has suggested they’re also looking into potential campaign fundraising abuses.

The congressman often touts his military service record and his career at the FBI as qualifications on the campaign trail. In the law enforcement agency, he served as an undercover operative who penetrated the Gambino crime family, and also helped bring down a ring of white-collar criminals in 2003.

But his career was cut short in 2006, when he unexpectedly resigned. He has always said that he left on good terms to start a family.

The new revelations discovered by DNAinfo cast doubt onto those claims, though, with sources telling the outlet that Grimm was being investigated by the agency’s internal monitors for breach of protocol.

They report:

Sources said Grimm’s FBI identification picture was posted shortly after he resigned from the bureau in 2006 and it now hangs with about two dozen other ex-agents and federal employees.

“They are all employees who were fired, or they were under circumstances where they were forced out or felt they should leave, and all are no longer welcome back,” the former FBI official explained.

… Sources said Grimm, 44, was under internal scrutiny before he quit over allegations that he told a woman he met during a probe that he worked undercover — a violation of FBI protocol.

The FBI’s Office of Professional Responsibility was also questioning so-called “voucher” expenses he submitted in connection with his undercover roles.

The sources believe the pressure of the inquiry played a role in his decision to exit the FBI — an agency he often professed to love, his colleagues noted — without getting a pension because he didn’t serve 20 years.

A spokesperson for Grimm told DNAinfo that the congressman was “unaware” that he was not permitted in FBI offices, and had no idea why. The spokesperson also provided a 2012 letter on FBI letterhead stating that the former agent “resigned his post in good standing with the FBI.”

Lawyer Mark Nussbaum

Nussbaum (Source: RUNY)

I’m not quite sure why one would release a statement in response to a quote published a month and half ago, or why one would attack a former elected official of the same party who has said he will never run for office again. But that’s exactly what’s going on this week, with Republican District Leader Marcus Nussbaum of the 46th Assembly District “taking issue” with former State Senator David Storobin for comments he made after the election.

Storobin blamed his loss in November’s race for the 48th District of the City Council, ultimately won by Chaim Deutsch, on low turnout in the Russian-speaking community. Following redistricting, the area became known as a “Super Russian” district, in which Russian speakers are the largest voting block. But apparently that didn’t benefit Storobin.

Nussbaum, who rose to local prominence after providing pro bono legal representation to Bay People in their fight against the Voorhies Avenue mosque, rejected Storobin’s narrative, saying that his loss was because of his failure to garner support from the party. To add some context here, the Brooklyn GOP is in the midst of a power struggle, with a faction led by State Senator Marty Golden looking to unseat county boss Craig Eaton, and Storobin wasn’t exactly a favored son of either side.

Here’s Nussbaum’s press release in full:

Marcus Nussbaum, one of the two newly elected Republican District Leaders in the 46th Assembly District, has stated that he strongly disagrees with former State Senator and City Council candidate David Storobin’s recent statement that he lost his election because the Russian electorate did not come out to vote.

“This analysis labels the Russian community as disinterested in civic affairs. I found this to be in accurate. As I campaigned, talking with hundreds of Russian constituents, I found the overwhelming majority to be very much concerned with government affairs and eager to cast their votes,” Nussbaum said.

Mr. Storobin’s remarks were included in a Politicker article entitled “Non-Russian Triumphs in ‘Super-Russian’ Council District” written by Ross Barkan last November 7th. Mr. Storobin blamed turnout for the letdown, “It’s disappointing the Russian community tends not to come out in high numbers,” he said, reflecting on his bid.”

Nussbaum explained, “I am of Russian descent, and convinced that my victory last September, together with that of my running mate, Lucretia Regina-Potter, happened because of the strong support that we received from the Russian Republican community. In order for us to receive such support, we personally asked for it by meeting with as many Republican voters as possible throughout the entire 46th Assembly District.”

“In spite of the fact that the established factions did not support us, we were able to overcome those obstacles and their very strong opposition. In my opinion, Mr. Storobin lost because he failed to reach out to those people, including myself and my co-leader, who had just succeeded in convincing a large number of Republican voters to actually come out and vote in a Primary election,” Nussbaum stated.

“Could it have been political rather than cultural considerations that were at play?” Nussbaum asked. “At this stage, one is inclined to conclude that perhaps Mr. Storobin did not value our support, or worse, he may have been instructed not to reach out to us by his alignment with one established Republican faction.”

“The result of all of the bickering and infighting among Brooklyn Republicans is that it is almost impossible for Republican candidates for public office to be elected. We must stand united, work for a common victory, and overcome these petty differences in order to succeed. It is not a community that is disappointing, but perhaps the candidates that take the community for granted,” Nussbaum concluded.

Source: Brian Hedden via Bay Ridge Odyssey

Source: Brian Hedden via Bay Ridge Odyssey

Republican Congressman Michael Grimm is asking the federal government to earmark $600 million for the Build it Back program, the housing recovery project designed to help Superstorm Sandy victims, and take control over Sandy funds out of the hands of of local authorities, reports SILive.

While the money is already on its way as part of a larger package, Grimm wants the government to earmark that amount specifically for Build it Back and not permit New York City or state authorities any flexibility with the funds.

“The City of New York needs to take a better look at how they’re allocating their resources. It’s not their money to just allocate as they see fit. This is the people of Staten Island’s money — that was the intent of Congress. And they need to be stewards to that money,” Grimm said.

Thus far, the billions in federal aid money flowing into city coffers has come in the form of Community Development Block Grants (CDBGs) and has allowed the city to be flexible in the way it spends it. In a letter to Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Grimm advocated that the city needs an additional $600 million just for housing alone, and that the city should have no say in how this cash is spent.

“I don’t have faith that the city will do the right thing for the people that I represent in Staten Island,” Grimm said.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg

Mayor Michael Bloomberg warned that the continuing government shutdown could cause serious delays in distributing Superstorm Sandy relief money. The New York Daily News is reporting that Bloomberg and mayoral candidates Bill de Blasio and Joe Lhota all expressed the same opinion that the shutdown could harm people and businesses trying to recover from the storm.

With much of the federal workforce furloughed, aid money flowing from Community Development Block Grants is likely to be slowed due to the lack of government workers pushing it through the system.

In his weekly radio address, Bloomberg described dire consequences if the shutdown doesn’t end soon.

“Right now, Washington’s gridlock is doing real harm to our nation’s economy – and if they don’t get their acts together soon, New York City families, especially those who endured the worst from Hurricane Sandy, will feel real pain,” Bloomberg said, “If, for example, you’re a business owner in the Rockaways, this could mean a longer wait time to get grants and loans – prolonging what has been an already difficult and cumbersome process for so many.”

Bloomberg also said that politicians in Washington had lost sight of the fact that their disagreements were affecting the lives of real people, stating that, “Enough is enough.”

The Daily News described how both De Blasio and Lhota agreed that the gridlock in DC must come to an end, yet they both descended into partisan bickering over who was to blame:

“The Republicans in the House if they want to live up to the phrase patriotic should settle this problem now so the people in this country who have suffered from natural disasters don’t suffer more,” [de Blasio] said.

“Mr. Lhota is a Republican. He’s a proud republican. He is someone who’s been a Republican all his life. And his party continues to do things that hurt the interests of New York City. And I think that Republicans like him should have long ago fought back against the negative trends in their party. They should not have accepted it and they should have considered leaving the Republican Party,” he said.

“I don’t understand in this day and age how someone could continue to be a Republican and say that they want to help New York City move forward.”

Lhota condemned the shutdown and insisted trying to tie him to Republicans in Washington is unfair. “I’ve blasted the Congressional Republicans for their actions,” he said.

“While I may be a Republican, I don’t believe in what those Congressional Republicans are doing. They’re serving themselves, they’re not serving the people who elected them.”

City Councilman Lew Fidler. Photo by Erica Sherman

City Councilman Lew Fidler. Photo by Erica Sherman

Democrats across the city are rallying behind the perceived inevitability of Bill de Blasio becoming the Democratic nominee after the candidate narrowly slipped by the trigger for a runoff in the preliminary vote count, and are urging Bill Thompson to concede his desire for a recount to force to a runoff. Councilman Lew Fidler, though, is not one of them. An ardent supporter of Bill Thompson, he’s urging his friend to keep the campaign alive.

In the first returns, it appears that de Blasio just barely eclipsed the 40 percent margin needed to avoid a runoff with Thompson, who finished second with 26.2 percent of the vote. If a recount does find de Blasio under the 40 percent threshold, Thompson and his supporters are hoping that voters who cast ballots for Christine Quinn, John Liu and Anthony Weiner could be persuaded to make up the difference. This is exactly what Thompson supporter Fidler is banking on, striking a defiant anti-de Blasio tone in his remarks to the Daily News.

“When people realize what they’ve done, they’ll reconsider and vote for Thompson,” Fidler said.

Fidler’s stern support of Thompson is flying in the face of a bevvy local Democrats, who once endorsed the likes of Quinn and Thompson, jump ship and back de Blasio. A report by Politicker made a long list of politicians and labor groups switching to Team de Blasio:

The Democratic and labor establishment, however, has indicated they have little appetite for another primary race. Indeed, the two Democrats who will be locked in a citywide runoff for public advocate, Councilwoman Tish James and State Senator Daniel Squadron, were among those endorsing Mr. de Blasio today.

“There are two reasons we are supporting Bill de Blasio. He tells the truth, and he’s a fighter for the middle class, working class and poor. That’s an awfully good combination, and we’re excited to get behind his campaign,” Dan Cantor, executive director of the WFP, in a statement. “Bill de Blasio has dedicated himself to addressing the soaring inequality that characterizes New York.”

Despite all the momentum that the de Blasio campaign is mounting, Fidler had strong words for anyone who backed Thompson and are now considering supporting de Blasio.

“Grow a pair and don’t rush to judgment,” Fidler told the Daily News.

When asked if Fidler’s hard line against de Blasio would melt if Thompson was defeated once and for all, Fidler wouldn’t give an inch.

“I’m not prepared to answer that,” Fidler said, adding that, “I am going to be with Bill Thompson until the last vote is counted.”

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