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Money matters

State Sen.Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), seen here in

State Sen.Todd Kaminsky (D-Long Beach), seen here in Mineola on April 30, 2018. Credit: Howard Schnapp

Daily Point

LI Senators reaping the big bucks

In the New York State Senate, we’ve now had both a full year of Democratic control and the fundraising filings that go with it. 

Those filings show the Long Island Democratic delegation pulling in large chunks of dough — particularly Long Beach State Sen. Todd Kaminsky, whose Senate account’s closing balance in January was more than $1.3 million. 

That’s more than any other New York state senator has in his or her Senate accounts as of January filings, according to a Point analysis. Kaminsky, who is a sort of dean of the LI delegation, even surpassed majority leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and her deputy Mike Gianaris (Gianaris has another non-Senate account with more in it). 

Kaminsky’s filings include big contributions from donors across the political spectrum, from Democratic philanthropist James Simons to former Republican U.S. Sen. Al D’Amato and former Trump White House Communications Director Anthony Scaramucci. 

Law enforcement unions, real estate and development groups and banks also chipped in, as they did for the other Long Island Democrats, all of whom had more than $100,000 in closing balances for January. 

Asked about his popularity among contributors, Kaminsky told The Point he thought people saw the “achievements” of last year like landmark climate legislation, in addition to a perception that "Long Island brings in an important balance,” politically speaking. 

Certainly big spenders like real estate that used to support the GOP Senate majority may be more comfortable going to the new Democratic cohort on Long Island than some of the more left-leaning freshmen and women in NYC. 

Where’s the LI Senate money going? Some of it to Democratic party HQ. More than $90,000 from the Long Island delegation’s accounts was transferred to the party’s Senate campaign arm over the last year. 

Much of that money was for polling, said Senate Dems spokesman Mike Murphy. The polling was conducted by Senate Democrats’ longtime consultant Parkside Group. The campaign arm put in separate money for those LI polls as well, as per the filings.

Kaminsky says it makes sense that candidates with potentially competitive races would raise more and that money from those who have it might go to the campaign arm.

Seems like there will be plenty to go around as campaign season kicks into gear.

—Mark Chiusano @mjchiusano

Talking Point

All bets are off in Medford

It was a surprise when news broke in November that Suffolk OTB had filed plans with state officials for a 160,000-square-foot video lottery casino in Medford. That community had already staved off an attempt to build a facility at the 30-acre property off the Long Island Expressway South Service Road for its first 1,000 machines in 2016. 

And with Suffolk lacking authorization for more machines, it wasn’t clear how the county planned to fill the building or the 2,347-car parking lot it was proposing. The answer was legislation Democratic State Sen. James Gaughran was pushing in the spring, at County Executive Steve Bellone’s request, to authorize another 2,000 machines for the county.

But Monday Gaughran told The Point he will no longer support such a request.

Gaughran said that as the budget process was nearing its climactic and chaotic end, Bellone asked him to sponsor a bill authorizing another 2,000 machines, and he did so. The bill didn’t gain any traction at that late date but the idea was that Gaughran would give it a real push this year. 

But now Gaughran says that he thinks that haphazard attempts by counties to seek more and more machines for themselves without a comprehensive plan for gambling in the state is the wrong way to go.

“The first thing that happened after I proposed more machines for Suffolk was Nassau County calling to say they wanted more, too,” Gaughran said, “and that gave me pause. And as I’ve gained more experience on the Gaming Committee, I’ve come to see that we can’t just put machines here and there and here and there and hope it generates strong revenue for the local governments and the state. You can look at other states and see it just does not work.”

Gaughran now says he hopes a comprehensive report on gambling expansion statewide that has been ordered by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo will lead to a sensible blueprint going forward. 

“We need to deal with sports gambling legalization and how it will be handled in kiosks in other businesses, in casinos and online,” Gaughran said. “We need to talk about downstate casinos, how and where they will be cited, and how we make sure money really goes to communities and to funding education and to funding gambling addiction prevention and treatment.”

All of this is very much what Cuomo has been saying for years, and not at all what Suffolk and Nassau county leaders starved for revenue want to hear. So the big news in Gaughran’s change of stance may well be who he is now standing with, and who he’s inched away from.

—Lane Filler @lanefiller

Pencil Point

New guy

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Quick Points

  • When Republicans talking about the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump say the will of the voters should not be overturned, could they please explain why that logic didn’t work when it came to holding a vote on Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court?
  • Asked whether they would back a candidate more moderate or more liberal than most Democrats, 55% of Iowa voters chose more moderate, a result echoed in candidate polling with the moderates in the top five leading the liberals in aggregate, 43% to 40%. But the top choice, at 25% was Sen. Bernie Sanders, the most liberal contender — predictable when your top five is three moderates and two liberals. Winnowing the field will help. So who is going to be the team player?
  • After a tense interview with veteran NPR journalist Mary Louise Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo lashed out at her profanely and challenged her to find Ukraine on an unmarked map, which she did. Too bad Kelly didn’t challenge Pompeo to find “diplomatic” in a dictionary.
  • Want to know how special the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan is? It’s apparently being released this week and nobody knows anything about it, which makes it about the only thing in Trump-world that hasn’t been leaked.
  • President Donald Trump’s tweet that House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff “hasn’t paid the price yet” for leading the impeachment drive probably was not a death threat. But can we all agree that just the fact that the question is being discussed is a scary commentary on the state of play?
  • An Arizona man was arrested for driving in an HOV lane with a fake skeleton disguised as a passenger. Someone should tell the guy he also would have been arrested if the skeleton was real.
  • Indiana GOP Sen. Mike Braun says that as a result of the impeachment trial President Donald Trump will “put two and two together” and modify his behavior. With all due respect, Senator, math was never Trump’s strong suit.

—Michael Dobie @mwdobie