John Catsimatidis' Advice to Joe Lhota in the Mayor's Race: Spend More of Your Own Money

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Photo via Thomas Kaplan's Twitter
John Catsimatidis, statesman.
It wasn't so long ago that we said a reluctant farewell to John Catsimatidis, grocery store magnate, unsuccessful mayoral candidate, and profoundly weird dude. Oh, sure, he's popped up here and there--writing a heartfelt, creatively spaced goodbye poem on Facebook, bizarrely insisting that Rudy Giuliani owes him $210,000 from the former mayor's failed presidential bid--but things just aren't the same since he lost to Lhota in the Republican primary. Happily, he reappeared for a moment this morning on Curtis Sliwa's radio show, to offer Lhota some sterling advice: When your campaign flounders, just write yourself a check.

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Three Strikes, You're Out: Albany Flops on Abortion Rights, Campaign Finance, and Medical Marijuana Bills

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Remember the provision in the Women's Equality Act that would solidify abortion rights here in New York in the face of anti-abortion bills popping up in state legislatures across the country? Remember Cuomo's call for campaign finance regulation in a state electoral system that is drastically outdated and loophole-heavy? Remember the legislative push for medical marijuana in New York in a state with a record high number of weed arrests? Yeah? Well, none of them are happening anymore.

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Christine Quinn's Prime Real Estate: Macro Sea / Brooklyn Naval Yards

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As the days wind down to November 5--when New Yorkers will choose their first post-Bloomberg leader--the would-be mayors continue their mad dash for donors, seeking large contributions from New York's most powerful elites. Spearheading that movement is City Council Speaker and Democratic frontrunner Christine Quinn; with the largest campaign treasure chest of any candidates thus far, she faces major criticism for her connections to the real estate industry. In this series, we'll be spotlighting Quinn's most prestigious bundlers in Big Development for the upcoming mayoral election.

Our third subject: Macro Sea, a developer that's reinventing the Brooklyn Naval Yards, largely due in part to its preferred (and funded) mayoral aspiration.


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Christine Quinn's Prime Real Estate: Millennium Partners/Friends of the High Line

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As the days wind down to November 5--when New Yorkers will choose their first post-Bloomberg leader--the prospects for City Hall continue their mad dash for donors, seeking large contributions from New York's most powerful elites. Spearheading that movement is City Council Speaker and Democratic frontrunner Christine Quinn; with the largest campaign treasure chest of any candidates thus far, she faces major criticism for her connections to the real estate industry. In this series, we'll be spotlighting Quinn's most prestigious bundlers in Big Development for the upcoming mayoral election.

Second on our list: Millennium Partners, a real estate developer with ties to Quinn's largest handouts.

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Christine Quinn's Prime Real Estate: Related Companies

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As the days wind down to November 5--when New Yorkers will choose their first post-Bloomberg leader--the prospects for City Hall continue their mad dash for donors, seeking large contributions from New York's most powerful elites. Spearheading that movement is City Council Speaker and Democratic frontrunner Christine Quinn; with the largest campaign treasure chest of any candidates thus far, she faces major criticism for her connections to the real estate industry. So, in a series akin to last summer's Mitt Loves N.Y., in which we looked at Romney's SuperPAC compadres, we'll be spotlighting Quinn's most prestigious bundlers in Big Development for the upcoming mayoral election.

First up: Related Companies, a main city developer that has put its hopes and dreams in the Quinn campaign and is already seeing the payoff.

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Good Job! New York State Lawmakers Only Violated Campaign Finance Law 103,805 Times in Two Years

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joeltelling via Compfight cc
Seems like you can't walk down an Albany sidewalk without stumbling over a lawmaker charged with graft these days, but the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) put out a report yesterday that shows how widely the system is failing.

According to the report, New York state lawmakers have violated campaign finance law 103,805 times since January 2011. Most of the violations are minor--including missing dates on disclosure reports to the New York State Board of elections, missing addresses, and wrong codes--but show that if a lawmaker were up to something more sinister, it'd be nearly impossible to pinpoint because of all the holes in recordkeeping, said NYPIRG research coordinator Bill Mahoney.


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Mayoral Race Campaign Finance Rules Will Not Change, For Now

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mcdonald2013.com
The day after two former campaign aides of mayoral candidate John Liu got busted for attempting to defraud the city through an illegal campaign finance scheme, a Manhattan supreme court shut down GOP mayoral candidate George McDonald's hope of changing the city's campaign finance rules.

Currently, city campaign finance rules state that individual donors can give no more than $4,950 to mayoral candidates, but McDonald argued that candidates who don't participate in the public matching program don't have to abide by those limits. (In 2004, City Council passed a law requiring ALL candidates to stick to the same rules.) But here's the way the matching program works: For the first $175 of a person's campaign donation, the city agrees to pay $6 for every dollar spent--meaning that candidates, should they choose to participate, can sweep up as much as $1,050 in public funding per individual donor.

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State Lawmakers Propose a Ban on Using Campaign Money for Legal Fees

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Let's say you donate to a campaign. You really like said candidate and believe he or she will do a great job representing you and your interests in government. Eventually, your preferred politician gets elected and you're confident that your donation was well-spent.

And then, a year later, he or she is involved in a corruption scandal and, soon enough, you see your donation dollars in the hands of the candidate's lawyers. Wait, that's not okay, right?

That's the question being asked in Albany this week, as state lawmakers debate whether to include a ban on using campaign money for outrageous legal fees in the campaign finance reform bill coming out of Governor Cuomo's office. In 1989, the State Board of Elections decided that it was totally fine for candidates to spend their electoral cash on defenses in court. But, in the wake of the recent scandal fest, that opinion is quickly being revisited.

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Obama Team to Support Gov. Cuomo in Campaign Finance Reform Battle

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In January, Gov. Cuomo reiterated a point in his State of the State address that he's made since his first day on office: New York needs to completely overhaul its campaign finance system ASAP.

"We must enact campaign finance reform because people believe that campaigns are financed by someone else at exorbitant rates," he told the audience. Except, in a modern political landscape where voices are heard through dollar signs, his plan has not made it out of the rhetorical stage.

But maybe a boost from a victorious White House team will help a bit.

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The Supreme Court Refuses To Hear A Case That Would've Driven You Crazy

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Last week, we reported on the Nine's decision to hear a case entitled McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission this coming October. In it, an Alabaman G.O.P. donator is attempting to upend the limits of biennial contributions to candidates or committees from an individual -- a restriction that's about $123,600 right now. Of course, there's SuperPACs and all that to circumvent this but, still, the written law stands to be overturned by a post-Citizens-United Supreme Court.

However, not all hope is lost for common decency in campaign finance: yesterday afternoon, Mother Jones reported that the highest court in the land has declined to hear a plea (labeled as "Citizens United on Steroids") that's made its way up the judiciary ladder. The case is called Danielczyk v. United States and, if the Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiff, it would've been the worst thing to happen to shadow political spending since the Koch Brothers.

In 2008, Mr. William Danielczyk and Mr. Eugene Biagi donated money to Hillary Clinton's Presidential run. For whatever the reason, they thought the private equity firm they worked for would reimburse them - except, instead, the Justice Department slammed them with corporate contribution charges. Arguing against them, the two businessmen pinned up Citizens United as proof that, logically speaking, direct corporate contributions are constitutional.

Luckily, the Supreme Court disagrees... today, at least.

[jsurico15@gmail.com/@JSuricz]

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