On Wednesday, shortly after Norman Seabrook, president of New York City’s jail officers’ union, was arrested on corruption charges, Governor Andrew Cuomo gave a speech promising new regulations on independent expenditure committees (a.k.a. super PACs). This is the fourth time in five years that the governor has proposed such regulations, Politico reports, which—even in the unlikely event of them passing—would not actually do very much to ameliorate corruption in New York.
Last week, a judge unsealed court documents that outlined federal prosecutors’ allegations that former State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, one of the three most powerful men in New York until his conviction on corruption charges last year, carried on at least two extramarital affairs during his time as an elected official. In the filings, the women are anonymized, but they have since been identified as Patricia Lynch, a lobbyist, and Janele Hyer-Spencer, a former assemblywoman and state employee.
On Thursday, U.S. District Court Judge Valerie Caproni ordered that documents related to the conviction of former New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on corruption charges last fall be unsealed. Prosecutors say that the documents show Silver carried on extramarital affairs with at least two women—one of whom had business before the state legislature, and one of whom he helped get a government job.
For the past week, fourteen different public relations officials for various government agencies in New York have refused to explain why the state failed to pay $75 million owed to contractors working on the SolarCity factory site in South Buffalo—a mistake that forced those contractors to temporarily lay off workers. That story was broken by WGRZ, Buffalo’s NBC affiliate, whose staff later decided to see how much those public relations officials were being paid not to fulfill their most basic job duty. The answer: Over $1.37 million combined.
According to the New York Times, federal authorities are investigating State Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver for payments he received for about a decade from a law firm that were not listed on his financial disclosure forms as required. The investigation grew out of the short-lived Moreland Commission.
Following up on its non-endorsement of New York governor Andrew Cuomo's challenger, Zephyr Teachout, the New York Times today endorsed Teachout's running mate, Tim Wu, for lieutenant governor. Because Cuomo is a terrible cynic with no identifiable values, his chosen lieutenant governor candidate, Kathy Hochul, is a right-wing creep added to the ticket to pander to upstate voters. (Or possibly, as the Times theorizes, she's a cynic herself, who pretends to be right-wing to pander to upstate voters.)
Last year, Andrew Cuomo, the Democratic governor of New York, assembled an independent ethics panel to expose the pernicious, deep-rooted culture of corruption in Albany. In its own way, it worked: Today’s New York Times has a big feature recounting how Cuomo sought to steer—and in some cases quash—the panel’s investigations when they got too close to his own turf.
Last week, California criminalized revenge porn. Now, New York state legislators are proposing a bill that would also target people who distribute nude photos of others without their consent. Unlike California's law, which can only be used to prosecute individuals who personally took naked photos of someone else and then disseminated the images against the subjects' will, New York's proposition would theoretically apply to making sexually explicit self-portraits public.
State Senator Malcolm Smith is giving up on negotiating with Senators Pedro Espada Jr., Carl Kruger, and Ruben Diaz Sr. So no one knows who will run the New York state senate and what will happen to gay marriage and whether those three assholes will remain Democrats or what. Smith's is a frustrating but morally correct decision, and only one of those modifiers usually describes doings in Albany. Diaz was typically incoherently dickish in a message to a reporter:
New York's state legislature passed a law that will require Internet vendors with any business ties to the state to collect sales tax. The law is so sweeping that it includes nonphysical ties, such as affiliate-marketing programs, which pay a slice of sales to websites which refer customers to an online store. Amazon.com responded with a lawsuit. Now Overstock.com says it's cutting loose its 3,400 affiliates in New York. The idea is to show "the New York governor and legislature that this is bad for New York businesses," Overstock VP Jonathan Johnson told the New York Times. "There are affiliates in New York who will see their business go away because of a not-so-thoughtful action by the New York State legislature." Amazon will keep its affiliates and begin paying sales tax June 1. New York hoped to increase its tax revenues by $50 million with the measure. Overstock's letter to affiliates is included below: