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Huntington holds its breath
Huntington Town Supervisor Chad Lupinacci has been rocked by a civil complaint that claims he sexually harassed a member of his state Assembly staff in an Albany hotel room in 2017. Can Lupinacci, who denies the allegations, survive that claim filed Tuesday by Brian Finnegan, a well-liked Huntington man considered an up-and-comer in the local Republican party?
That depends on how the lawsuit is resolved, local politicians told The Point Wednesday, noting they were taken aback by the complaint. “Chad is in a lot of trouble, but no one wants to throw him under the bus. Not yet anyway,” a GOP leader said. If the civil complaint is quietly settled and no other damaging information comes out, Lupinacci may be able to complete his term, which runs through 2022, a town Republican said.
But another political leader sees it differently. “This isn’t a private matter, Lupinacci was an elected official in a hotel room with one of his staff members. He drank too much. It goes to his judgment,” he said.
Lupinacci cannot be removed by the town council. Under state law, only New York’s governor can remove a supervisor and only for cause, such as a criminal conviction. But a criminal case does not seem likely.
Finnegan did not file a police complaint at the time and is not expected to do so now. The Albany district attorney is unlikely to bring charges without such a complaint. And New York’s attorney general does not have criminal jurisdiction in an individual case of harassment such as this, a spokesperson told The Point.
The hotel rooms where the Finnegan alleges the two incidents took place were paid for by New York State taxpayers, part of the $175 per diem lawmakers receive while on state business. Lupinacci was in Albany and entitled to use the per diem for his hotel room, and anything he may have done while in the room would not be considered a fraudulent use of public money.
Even though he is no longer a member of the Assembly, Lupinacci would be subject to disciplinary measures by the chamber’s Standing Committee on Ethics because the alleged incident would have taken place while he was a legislator. Any negative finding by the Assembly could lead to a recommendation to the speaker that a public reprimand be issued.
Gov. Donald Duck
For New York City, the REAL results of November’s gubernatorial election finally came in on Monday. The write-in ballots were published.
So we now know that 4 people wrote in Amazon Cuomo, the nickname Andrew M. proposed for himself as he was wooing the retail giant to Queens. The same number of people wrote in the governor’s younger, camera-ready brother, Chris.
There were the usual high-earners among politicians, journalists, pop-culture figures, New York Mets and cartoon characters who weren’t on the ballot, from Barack Obama to Donald Duck.
Hundreds of wishful votes were cast for Hillary Clinton, Zephyr Teachout, and Cynthia Nixon.
Nassau County certified its results on Friday but did not release its list of 296 write-in votes. Suffolk County’s tallies for governor and lieutenant governor show 151 write-ins, according to the county, but not the names. Anita Katz, a Suffolk Board of Elections commissioner, tells The Point that the county doesn’t list totals for Mickey Mouse and the like, just tallies the unofficial write-ins as “scattering.” The board may choose to individually record who received the votes at a later date, says Nick LaLota, the other commissioner.
The state Board of Elections says the counties aren’t required to post the colorful lists, but the lists are subject to FOIL. For now, we’ll have to enjoy the work of some particularly creative city residents: the two (two!) people who wrote in Michael Bloomberg/Cynthia Nixon for a somewhat internally divided gubernatorial ticket.
The one who did Mario Cuomo/Cynthia Nixon, a sleight to the son.
And the hero of Kings County who wrote in “Andrew Gonadz.” Maybe that’s a real person, but we really hope it’s Brooklynese for incoming State Sen. Andrew Gounardes of Bay Ridge.
Not so jolly
Flooded with contenders
With Tish James heading to Albany and a special election to take place early in the new year, the race for New York City public advocate is already heating up. That includes a push by some lawmakers to abolish the office, given that it has often been a self-promotional spot. Other lawmakers are rushing toward it, because of those promotional possibilities and the fact that it has been a launching pad to greater things.
Brooklyn City Councilman and former lieutenant governor candidate Jumaane Williams is one such hopeful. He has the support of the Working Families Party, which has already run dozens of Facebook ads for Williams’ candidacy — including ads that say Williams will help fight to protect “our communities from the impacts of HQ2,” the controversial state and city deal to bring Amazon to Queens.
Activist and organizer Nomiki Konst is also flooding the Facebook ad space.
Brooklyn Councilman Rafael Espinal had a high-profile media hit in November when he was featured in a soft-focus New York Times feature about how New Yorkers spend their Sundays.
Other names to know: Michael Blake, Bronx assemblyman and Democratic National Committee vice chair, has a national profile and local connections. Former City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito has recently stuck to an aggressive calendar to get her profile back in the mix. There are also murmurs about Brooklyn Assemb. Latrice Walker, plus the concern that the crowded Democratic field could leave space for a Republican in a non-partisan special election.
And you thought 2020 was the next big thing.