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POLITICO New York Playbook: DE BLASIO's interested donors -- CUOMO's ever-present aide -- PRINCE tributes

04/22/2016 07:45 AM EDT

By Azi Paybarah in Manhattan, Jimmy Vielkind in Albany, and Mike Allen in D.C., with Daniel Lippman

PROBING DE BLASIO, CONTINUED -- How he helped raise money for Democrats in 2014 -- Times' J. David Goodman, William Neuman and William Rashbaum: "What prosecutors investigating the State Senate fund-raising effort appear to be seeking ... is evidence of a scheme to use the county committees to illegally redistribute contributions to candidates favored by Mr. de Blasio. There seemed to be little question where the money sent to county committees should ultimately end up, officials with the committees said. 'We were told, before we got it, how it was going to be used,' said Louis Epstein, the first vice chairman of the Democratic committee in Putnam County ... A review of state campaign records and voluntary disclosures by Mr. de Blasio's nonprofit show an interlocking web of donors with interests before the city. Beyond the labor unions, which give lavishly to Democratic campaigns in any election, there are men with little prior experience as major donors in New York politics on the rolls of local and state campaign committees ...

"On Sept. 10, 2014, he convened roughly 160 potential donors, many of whom had contributed to his mayoral campaign, at a breakfast meeting at the Midtown Manhattan offices of a law firm, Kramer Levin ... Mr. de Blasio left the meeting before his campaign finance director, Ross A. Offinger, made the pitch for donations, according to two people who were present. The mayor returned to the room soon after. ... A company linked to Michael Kohn, a businessman with real estate interests in Brooklyn, gave $100,000 to the Ulster County Democratic Committee in October 2014; in early 2015, another company associated with him gave $50,000 to the nonprofit."

FORMER CUOMO AIDE DRAWS SCRUTINY AS TIES PERSIST - The Wall Street Journal's Erica Orden: "In January, one of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's top aides departed to work as a senior vice president at Madison Square Garden Co., a company whose executive chairman is close with the governor and one that has a variety of business before the state. It seems the staffer, Joseph Percoco, hasn't left Mr. Cuomo's side. In recent months, Mr. Percoco has continued to function as the governor's aide, in situations that some legal experts and ethics watchdogs say raise questions about potential conflicts of interest and his compliance with public-officers law. The law restricts his ability to appear before the executive chamber or receive compensation from his current employer for work before the governor's office."

QUOTE OF DAY: "I said my top priority was pre-K, and I think everyone on earth knows that." -- Bill de Blasio, when asked by NY1's Grace Rauh about his pledge to ban horse-drawn carriages during his first week as mayor, via

BONUS QUOTE OF THE DAY: "The Journal's premise is absurd ... Just because Joe left state service, it doesn't mean he can't still be a friend, an informal adviser, or be able to attend public events." -- Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo's spokesman, about Joe Percoco, via WSJ's Erica Orden:

TWEET OF THE DAY: "For New York City's 'Car Free Day' on Earth Day tomorrow, Mayor Bill de Blasio will 'go car-free as much as possible,' his office says." -- NYT's @EmmaGT: [h/t Gizmodo's Alissa Walker]

POLITICAL DONATION OF THE DAY: "McMillan's company, DDG Partners, hired Kramer Levin, the lobbyist law firm that includes as a partner Barry Berke, de Blasio's former campaign treasurer. ... Standards & Appeals granted DDG's zoning change June 23. Eight days later, one of DDG's limited affiliates donated $10,000 to Campaign for One New York." -- Daily News' Greg Smith:

TABS -- Post, with a large image of Prince's icon -- Daily News: "R.I.P. you sexy mother: Prince Rogers Nelson, 1958-2016" -- amNY: "DEATH OF AN ICON" -- Metro: "PURPLE PAIN" -- SEE THEM:

-- The New Yorker's cover is purple, with rain drops and no words. SEE IT: [h/t Gothamist's Jen Chung]

-- El Diario [translated]: Turn off engines -- New York Observer: "New York City Political Power List" -- Time magazine, with photo of Lin-Manuel Miranda: "The 100 Most Influential People"

FRONT PAGES -- NYT, 2-col., below the fold: Obscure Ban is Driving Inquiry Into de Blasio's Fund-Raising" -- WSJNY, 2-col., above the fold: "Fewer Homes, Higher Cost: Rebuilds after Sandy grew more expensive with mayor's deadline, big construction firms" -- SEE THEM:

HOMAGE 2 PRINCE -- Gawker's Alex Pareene: "Prince may be gone, but at least every website can now look like Prince wrote it. 'Prince is here 4 U' is a Chrome browser extension by Gawker Media Director of Editorial Labs Adam Pash that transforms the web's normal, unfunky text in2 Prince-speak."

-- Read the Times' Jon Pareles on Prince here:

-- Star-Tribune obit here:

BIRTHDAYS -- FRIDAY: State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. of the Bronx ... Yonkers Mayor Michael Spano ... Chung Seto, former executive director of the NYS Democratic Party ... Erik Joerss, director of government affairs at the NYC Charter School Center ... Vincent Morgan, former congressional candidate ... Kombiz Lavasany, director of research and strategic initiatives at the American Federation of Teachers ... SATURDAY: Beth Fertig, education reporter at WNYC ... Josh Kriegman, former district director for Rep. Anthony Weiner who co-directed "Weiner!" the documentary ... Herb Stupp , former commissioner of the NYC Department for the Aging in the Giuliani administration ... Roy Moskowitz, Democratic operative on Staten Island ... Andrew Brent, former Bloomberg spokesman and current SVP for consumer public affairs at Citi ... Bernard Whitman, political strategist ... SUNDAY: Alison Hirsh, political director of 32BJ SEIU ... Matthew Phillips, data director for the Public Engagement at City Hall ... Andrew Kirtzman, former NY1 anchor, author of Rudy: Emperor of the City, and president of Kirtzman Strategies ... Kevin Powell, former congressional candidate, author and motivational speaker ... Cynthia Doty , Democratic activist on the Upper West Side ... Kimberly Council, who ran for an Assembly seat in Brooklyn in 2014 ... and Brooklyn native Barbara Streisand.

IS FRACKING KILLING JEFF GURAL'S HORSES? - Gannett's Tom Wilber: "For all its beauty, Gural's horse-breeding farm holds a disturbing mystery health experts and the federal government are working hard to solve. For three years, the mares have been bearing foals with dysphagia - a rare, life-threatening condition preventing them from swallowing properly. Although researchers have yet to pinpoint a cause, a Cornell University veterinary team that saved 17 of Gural's standardbred foals has identified a primary suspect - a gas well drilled directly next to the farm by Chesapeake Appalachia LLC. An investigation by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection confirmed the farm's water was contaminated, however it concluded Chesapeake operations was not the cause."

-- Preet and Cy subpoena NYCLASS -- POLITICO New York's Laura Nahmias: New Yorkers for Clean Livable and Safe Streets, an advocacy organization aimed at banning horse-drawn carriages on city streets that spent heavily to elect Mayor Bill de Blasio in 2013, has been subpoenaed by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District and Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance, a spokesman for the group told POLITICO New York. "We intend to fully cooperate with any investigation," Mike McKeon, a partner at Mercury Public Affairs, told POLITICO New York. The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that both the U.S. Attorney's office and Manhattan D.A. were looking into the group as part of a wide-ranging investigation that includes possible police corruption, and has also broadened to include Mayor Bill de Blasio's 2013 campaign fundraising and his fundraising on behalf of Democratic State Senate candidates in 2014. The subpoenas were sent Thursday to Steve Nislick, the group's founder, McKeon said. Earlier in the day, McKeon sent a statement to reporters saying that the group had not been contacted in any way by federal investigators.

NO SPECIAL PROSECUTOR FOR FATAL NYPD SHOOTING: QUEENS DA -- 'neither helpful nor productive' -- Queens Chronicle's Anthony O'Reilly: "Queens District Attorney Richard Brown Tuesday said the calls for a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of the death of a Maryland man who was fatally shot by cops early Sunday morning are 'neither helpful nor productive - nor does there exist any basis in law or in fact therefor.' 'Under the law, responsibility for the investigation into the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of George Tillman last weekend rests with my office,' Brown said in a statement provided to the Queens Chronicle. 'Let me assure everyone that our investigation will be thorough, fair and impartial.' ... [State Senator James Sanders] said he's seen a video of the incident that shows Tillman with no gun in his possession when he was shot by police. 'This video needs to be looked at by the proper authorities,' he said."

PRIMARY FALLOUT -- "New York election official ousted after her error purged over 100,000 Brooklyn voters from the rolls, wreaking havoc at polls" -- News' Jennifer Fermino: "Diane Haslett-Rudiano, the Board of Election's chief clerk, is in the process of being forced out over the botched voter rolls, the sources said Thursday. She was trying to clean up the books - which must be periodically purged to eliminate people who die, move or are ineligible for other reasons - and skipped one of the steps that was built in to stop the system from purging eligible voters, the sources said. ... Haslett-Rudiano ... worked at BOE since 1999 and made $125,758 last year."

-- WNYC's Brigid Bergin: "[E]ven as Bloomberg's frustration is echoed by Mayor Bill de Blasio - who called out the board for its performance on Tuesday's primary election - there's little he can do to force change. ... In 2013, the city's Department of Investigation released a scathing 72-page report detailing problems that occurred during that year's primary and general elections. ... A worthwhile note from that DOI report from 2013 - the process to delete a voter from the roles requires approval from two staff members. So far, only one person has been suspended."

NEW YORK CITY'S TOP 50 POWER PLAYERS-N.Y. Observer: "With the star power of the presidential campaign in town, it seems even the city's biggest personalities-its gangly mayor, its mercurial governor, its swaggering prosecutor and grinning police commissioner-have taken a backseat to the action. The campaign is all anyone is talking about, including Mayor Bill de Blasio himself, who has been pining to be a go-to progressive pundit and favored surrogate of Hillary Clinton, with less-than-stellar results. The 2016 race seems to swirl around nearly everyone, as New York Democrats jockey for favor with their old pal Ms. Clinton-perhaps looking for appointments down the line-and jockey for headlines bashing their hometown foe, Donald Trump. This year's power list has a decided focus, then, on the national figures who call New York City home, the local folks who help keep them in the running and the possibilities the future holds for those people-and what it could all mean for everybody else in town."

HEALTH BEAT -- Studying Central Brooklyn's hospital problem -- $500K study -- POLITICO New York's Dan Goldberg: The Cuomo administration announced on Wednesday that it was awarding $500,000 to Northwell Health to study the long-festering problem of Brooklyn hospitals, taking another stab at one of the most-challenging health care problems confronting the governor. Health care in central Brooklyn has dogged Andrew Cuomo throughout his six years in office, and there are no quick fixes. These hospitals are a critical element of the safety net, serving some of the poorest residents in the state. That makes them vital and, consequently, inviable.

It is unlikely that Northwell's study will break any new ground. But right-sizing, however prudent, is politically perilous both because communities often equate hospitals with health care and because hospitals are often a source of jobs. Rallies to save Long Island College Hospital and Interfaith Medical Center became magnets for "Shame on Cuomo" chants in 2013 and 2014. But Cuomo feels he must act as propping up these hospitals is costing the state $300 million each year. And there are reasons his administration feels optimistic about the chances of success.

EAT BEAT -- "Upgrade Your Matzo Pizza With Help From NYC's Speedy Romeo" -- Gothamist's Kelly Louise Delaney: "Passover 2016 is upon us, which means you have Seder dinner with family, and the commencement of some food restrictions to look forward to this weekend. ... Because eight days without leavened bread can be a difficult feat in bagel- and pizza-obsessed New York City, we've set out to bring the observant Jews of New York a dash of respite from Passover's dietary demands. We took a trip to Speedy Romeo's new LES digs for a look at how gourmet matzo pizza can be crafted. It's simple enough to whip up at home, and is so tasty it will definitely curb your bread cravings." SEE THE VIDEO:

TRANSITIONS -- "Thomas Walek announces launch of Peaks Strategies [for] strategic financial and capital markets communications": "In 1998 he founded Walek & Associates, a global financial and capital markets boutique serving multinational brands and emerging leaders. ... Walek sold his firm in 2013 and exited the agency earlier this year." ...

MEDIA MORNING -- "Fox News shuffles top news executives," by Politico's Alex Weprin: "Fox News is restructuring its executive ranks, naming Jay Wallace executive VP of news and editorial, succeeding Michael Clemente, who is launching a new longform specials unit at the channel. ... Fox News will now have three organizational divisions: news and editorial, which will be led by Wallace and oversees news shows and newsgathering; programming, which is run by Bill Shine (who also oversees Fox Business Network) and oversees Fox's opinion and primetime programming; and specials, which Clemente will oversee."

--Erica Hinsley has joined The New Yorker as associate director of communications. Previously, she worked in corporate communications at AppNexus, a New York-based ad tech company, and as a publicist at Knopf, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

--Liana Baker and Lauren Hirsch promoted at Reuters - Reuters deals editor-in-charge Greg Roumeliotis emails the staff: "Baker will be relocating from New York to San Francisco as Deals Team Leader ... With better access to Silicon Valley's insiders, Liana will continue to report on technology, media and telecommunications M&A. ... Liana has been delivering a steady stream of exclusives since she joined the deals team two years ago ... Lauren Hirsch, who currently reports on initial public offerings as well as M&A in the consumer and retail sectors, has also been appointed Deals Team Leader. ... Lauren joined Reuters last year from Mergermarket, where she covered consumer and retail M&A, first as a reporter, and later as an editor." Full memos

BLOOMBERG EVENT -- Michael Bloomberg hosted a dinner for 80 at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York City last night, including heads of state, ministers, business executives, philanthropists and celebrities in celebration of the Paris Agreement Signing Ceremony today. Musical guests were the Harlem Gospel Choir and the Young People's Chorus of NYC. Guests dined on roasted beet salad with goat cheese and spiced pecans, roasted Atlantic salmon, a Strawberry-Rhubarb crisp served with vanilla ice cream all paired with a '14 Santa Barbara Lieu-Dit Sauvignon Blanc and a '13 Côte de Nuits-Villages Gachot-Monot pinot noir. Instagram ... Flickr

REAL ESTATE -- SPENDING SPREE-"Subsidy for Staten Island outlet mall changes form, moves forward," by POLITICO New York's Jimmy Vielkind: "State officials have quietly switched the funding source for millions of dollars in subsidies for a Staten Island outlet mall. The board of Empire State Development voted unanimously on Thursday to spend $21.9 million to support Empire Outlets - which will include shops, parking, restaurants and a hotel next to the St. George Ferry Terminal. The vote came after five minutes of rote discussion and in-person testimony by two union workers who said the project will create 1,300 sorely needed permanent jobs and revitalize the borough's north shore. Of that sum, $16.5 million will come from the New York Works Economic Development Fund and not from the controversial Transformative Investment Program (TIF), which was created by Dean Skelos, the former state Senate majority leader who is awaiting sentencing following his conviction last year on corruption charges. The materials before the board on Thursday contained this sentence, in a 'summary' paragraph: 'It is noted that the funding source for the $16,500,000 award has been changed from the Transformative Investment Program to the New York Works Economic Development Fund.'"

-"De Blasio's biggest campaign bundler is a top WeWork exec," by The Real Deal's Konrad Putzier: "A top executive at WeWork is the biggest bundler for Mayor Bill de Blasio's re-election campaign to-date, collecting money from WeWork's founders and others with close ties to the firm, according to an analysis of campaign finance records by The Real Deal. With its most recent $16 billion valuation, the co-working giant was already worth more - at least on paper - than the majority of New York's biggest landlords. Now, its connections to a major bundler put it on turf typically occupied by those more established real estate companies, as well as lawyers and lobbyists active in the industry. WeWork is one of the biggest tenants in the city, with at least 2.8 million square feet of space leased, and is developing, along with Rudin Management and Boston Properties, a major office building on city-owned land at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Between Jan. 8 and 11, WeWork's senior vice president of external affairs Arana Hankin bundled $68,750 in donations to Bill de Blasio's re-election campaign - by a fair margin the largest chunk of donations recorded in the current campaign cycle so far."

-"Blackstone now owns more than $100B in real estate," by The Real Deal's Konrad Putzier:

THE HOME TEAMS -- POLITICO New York's Howard Megdal: Penguins 5, Rangers 0: The Rangers now trail, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series.

-- Athletics 7, Yankees 3: The Yankees allowed four homers and got swept, but at least Alex Rodriguez stole a base.

-- The day ahead: The Rays come to Yankee Stadium. The Mets are in Atlanta. The Islanders play the Panthers in Florida for Game 5, tied 2-2.

FOR MORE political and policy news from New York, check out Politico New York's home page:

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