Cuomo still collecting money from New York government, received first pension check last month

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Autoplay Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is still collecting money from the state government even after resigning earlier this year amid cascading scandals.

He received his first pension check last month, Fox News confirmed. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before getting vaccinated at a church in the Harlem section of New York, Wednesday, March 17, 2021. "Andrew M. Cuomo’s gross monthly retirement benefit with the New York State and Local Retirement System has been finalized and is $4,219.11," a spokesman for the New York comptroller’s office said. "He received his first pension payment in October of 2021."

The pension checks for the former governor come as he faces a charge for a misdemeanor sex crime in Albany, stemming from the sexual misconduct scandal that forced Cuomo to resign earlier this year. Cuomo also faces allegations that he improperly used Executive Chamber staff to write his book about the COVID-19 pandemic. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference, Monday, April 26, 2021 at the New York State Fair Grounds in Syracuse, N.Y. In his first face-to-face encounter with journalists in months, Cuomo flatly denied he had done anything inappropriate with any of the women who have accused him of sexual harassment. (N. Scott Trimble/Syracuse Post-Standard via AP) The Niagra Gazette first reported Cuomo is getting pension checks.

According to the New York comptroller’s office , pension beneficiaries who are convicted of a felony can have their benefits stripped. It is not clear whether any further charges against Cuomo are possible from either scandal. The governor currently does not face any felony charges.

Cuomo denies that he did anything wrong. FILE – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference at New York’s Yankee Stadium, on July 26, 2021. A lawyer for the former governor wants the sheriff who charged him with groping a woman to preserve records of any communications his office has had with the alleged victim, journalists or other investigators. A city court in Albany issued a summons charging Cuomo with forcible touching after a criminal complaint was filed by Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File) "Governor Cuomo has never assaulted anyone, and Sheriff Apple’s motives here are patently improper," Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin said when the charge was initially filed.

"[P]eople who volunteered on this project did so on their own time," spokesman Rich Azzopardi said of the book project. Fox News’ Maria Paronich contributed to this report.


Record number of U.S. firms change tack on political spending after Jan. 6 attack

By Jessica DiNapoli

NEW YORK, Nov 29 (Reuters) – The number of S&P 500 companies that have either stopped political giving or plan to disclose it hit a record in 2021 after the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol and recent social justice protests, according to a study viewed by Reuters.

According to the study from the Center for Political Accountability, U.S. companies see new risks in political giving in light of the country’s hyper-partisan environment, leading corporations to either halt contributions or disclose them. The center advocates for corporate transparency.

"Unrest and angry political conflict have defined the past two years," according to the study, which cited as examples the violent assault on the U.S. Capitol, the two-time impeachment of former President Donald Trump and attempts to overturn the 2020 election. "In these explosive times, companies are taking action.

"They’ve adopted political spending policies to avoid or mitigate heightened risk," according to the study.

Political spending came under closer scrutiny earlier this year after a raft of major companies suspended contributions to lawmakers who voted against President Joe Biden’s election certification.

At the same time, some companies, such as Delta Air Lines Inc, are becoming outspoken on social and political issues, including voting rights.

The new study found that 370 companies disclose some or all of their political spending, or ban at least one type of it, such as contributions to trade associations. That figure is up from 332 companies last year.

The Center for Political Accountability considers disclosure or outright banning of political giving a mark of top flight corporate governance policy, said Bruce Freed, the group’s president.

The study found that one of the biggest changes over the past six years among companies related to so-called "dark money" groups, which are tax-exempt organizations that influence politics. There was nearly a 100% increase from 2015 to 2021 in the number of companies who prohibit or disclose contributions to those organizations.

Intel Corp was highlighted by the study for adopting a corporate political contribution policy stating that the chipmaker reviews recipients’ voting records and public statements, and that it will communicate directly with them.

The study also highlighted videogame maker Activision Blizzard Inc and artificial intelligence computing company NVIDIA Corp, among others, for improving their policies by prohibiting payments to the "dark money" groups. (Reporting by Jessica DiNapoli in New York Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)


4 GOP-controlled states are changing their unemployment laws to allow those defying COVID-19 vaccine mandates to get benefits

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.Paul Hennessy/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images GOP-controlled legislatures are seeking to undermine President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate.

Four states have passed bills that would provide unemployment benefits to those fired for refusing the vaccine.

Vaccine mandates have become an issue of fierce partisan controversy.

Republican-controlled legislatures in four states are changing their unemployment laws so that people who have been fired or quit their jobs over the COVID-19 vaccine mandate can claim unemployment benefits.

The Florida, Iowa, Kansas and Tennessee state legislatures all changed their unemployment insurance rules in recent weeks to allow those refusing to comply with vaccine mandates to claim benefits.

Under the usual rules, employees who have quit their jobs or been fired are not entitled to claim unemployment benefits. Axios reported the development on Sunday.

Here’s a rundown of the changes: On October 30 , Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds signed a bill protecting the unemployment benefits of those fired for defying the mandates.

On November 12 , Tennessee Gov. Bill Lee signed into law a bill allowing those defying vaccine mandates to claim unemployment benefits.

On November 19 , Florida passed a bill allowing those defying the vaccine mandate to claim benefits as part of a broader bill providing a series of exemptions to employers’ COVID-19 mandates.

On November 23, lawmakers in the GOP-controlled Kansas State Legislature passed a bill protecting unemployment benefits of vaccine-mandate defiers as part of a bill broadening religious exemptions from the mandate, the Associated Press reported .

The laws seemed designed to undermine President Joe Biden’s vaccine mandate , which is set to come into force in January. Under the rules, federal government employees or those employed in companies that have 100 or more people must get vaccinated, or submit to weekly COVID-19 tests. Companies defying the mandate face hefty fines.

Many Republicans have positioned themselves in opposition to vaccine mandates, and GOP-led legislatures in several states have enacted laws to provide broad exemptions to mandates.

According to researchers at the University of Oxford, the US has one of the lowest vaccination rates of countries in the G7. New concerns are growing about a new coronavirus variant identified last week, Omicron, which some experts say may be more transmissible.


Fauci says new U.S. restrictions amid Omicron unlikely

FILE PHOTO: People travel before the Thanksgiving holiday in Seattle WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is unlikely to impose further restrictions amid the anticipated arrival of the Omicron COVID-19 variant, the nation’s top infectious disease official said on Monday after a travel ban on some southern African nations began.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was to brief U.S. President Joe Biden later on Monday, said that while officials were bracing for the first confirmed U.S. case of the variant, vaccines remained a top tool to blunt its impact.

Hours earlier, a U.S. ban blocked most travelers from eight southern African countries from entering the country in an effort to slow transmission and give experts more time to assess Omicron, including its severity, transmissibility and impact on vaccines.

Asked if other curbs were imminent, Fauci told ABC News’ "Good Morning America" program: “I don’t think so at all.”

Much of the United States shut down in early 2020 at the beginning of the pandemic, and other measures such as face masks and vaccine mandates have become politically contentious even as health experts tout their effectiveness.

Biden is scheduled to deliver public remarks on his administration’s response to the novel coronavirus at 11:45 a.m. ET (1645 GMT) following his meeting with Fauci and the rest of his COVID-19 team.

Fauci and other U.S. health officials on Monday said they were anticipating the variant’s arrival and urged more Americans to get vaccinated and receive booster shots if eligible.

"Obviously, we’re on high alert," Fauci, who also serves as Biden’s chief medical adviser, told ABC News. "It’s inevitable that, sooner or later, it’s going to spread widely."

National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins said that so far, vaccines have appeared to work against other COVID-19 variants and that officials hope that would be the case with Omicron as vaccine makers rush to conduct tests.

"There’s reason to be pretty optimistic here," Collins said in an interview on MSNBC.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey; Editing by Dan Grebler)


Trump is aiming for more a ‘personal’ VP selection process in 2024 and will emphasize loyalty and support of debunked election claims, report says

Former President Donald Trump speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas, Texas, on July 11, 2021. Trump is set to have a more "personal" VP selection process if he pursues a 2024 bid, per Politico .

The former president is popular among conservatives and can easily rally the party faithful.

"He is the party, basically. It’s so united behind him," said pollster John McLaughlin of Trump.

As former President Donald Trump ponders a potential 2024 presidential candidacy, he will be less wedded to choosing a running mate for geographical balance and more attuned to the individual’s sense of loyalty and their support of his debunked 2020 election claims, according to a Politico report .

Trump, who stepped into the 2016 political arena as an untested candidate without a legislative record, is now the undisputed kingmaker of the party, enjoying broad popularity among base voters that gives him the flexibility to make a more unorthodox selection.

John McLaughlin, one of the former president’s campaign pollsters, stressed that because Trump has the GOP apparatus behind him, he won’t be constrained in how he selects a governing partner.

"A lot of times, a presidential candidate will pick a running mate to balance out wings of the party. But with Trump, that’s not the issue. He is the party, basically. It’s so united behind him," he told Politico.

He continued: "So his choice, if he runs, will come down to what he wants. It would be a much more personal decision this time."

Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, who is currently one of the highest-profile Republicans in the country, has been routinely floated as a potential running mate since Trump left the White House.

Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina and former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo have also seen their stock rise as potential vice presidential picks as both men recently made forays to Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in South Florida, according to Politico.

However, the legacy of former Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s governing partner of four years, isn’t too far in the background.


Fauci responds to Ted Cruz’s suggestion he should be prosecuted: ‘I should be prosecuted? What happened on January 6, senator?’

Dr. Anthony Fauci and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas. Fauci responded to Sen. Ted Cruz’s call for him to be prosecuted in an interview on CBS.

"I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on January 6, Senator?" he said.

Fauci suggestion that Cruz should be prosecuted over Jan. 6 comes as an ethics investigation has stalled.

Dr. Anthony Fauci responded to Sen. Ted Cruz’s calls for him to be prosecuted by invoking the storming of the US Capitol on January 6, suggesting that Cruz was the one that should be prosecuted.

Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and Biden’s chief medical advisor, sat for a wide-ranging interview over the weekend with CBS’s Margaret Brennan.

"Sen. Cruz told the Attorney General you should be prosecuted," said Brennan, referring to an October committee hearing where the Texas senator called on Merrick Garland to appoint a special prosecute to investigate Fauci over gain-of-function research.

"Yeah," Fauci replied. "I have to laugh at that. I should be prosecuted? What happened on January 6, Senator?"

Brennan then asked Fauci if he thought he’d been made into a scapegoat by the right.

"You’d have to be asleep not to figure that one out," he replied.

Fauci’s suggestion that Cruz should be prosecuted over the January 6 storming of the US Capitol come as Senate Democrats’ ethics complaint against Cruz and Sen. Josh Hawley remains stalled, according to POLITICO .

The day after President Joe Biden was sworn in, 7 Democratic senators filed a complaint charging that the duo "lent legitimacy to the mob’s cause and made future violence more likely" by announcing that they would object to the counting of certain states’ electors.

Cruz later responded via Twitter , calling Fauci an "unelected technocrat who has distorted science and facts in order to exercise authoritarian control over millions of Americans."


Democratic Rep. Tom Suozzi announces bid for New York governor

Rep. Tom Suozzi (D-N.Y.) announced Monday he will run for governor of New York in 2022.

Why it matters via Axios’ Alayna Treene: Suozzi’s announcement makes him the 18th House Democrat to announce he will not seek re-election. It comes as Democrats are increasingly concerned about their prospects of keeping the House majority in the 2022 midterm elections. Suozzi is also a key House Democratic centrist who’s has been a lead player in ensuring the State and Local Tax Deduction — a top priority for a number of Democrats in blue coastal states — is reinstated in Biden’s Build Back Better package.

What he’s saying: "I’m running for governor of New York State. I feel great about it and my family feels great about it," Suozzi said Monday. "I have the background and proven ability to do this job," he added.

The big picture: His candidacy broadens the field of Democratic candidates challenging incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul , who assumed the position after former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned amid an investigation into sexual harassment accusations.

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US Rep. Tom Suozzi says he’s running for New York governor

FILE – Rep. Thomas Suozzi, D-N.Y., pauses while speaking with the media, Sept. 13, 2017, in Washington. Suozzi is joining a competitive primary race for New York governor that became wide open when Andrew Cuomo resigned. Suozzi told reporters at a virtual news conference Monday, Nov. 29, 2021 that he’s jumping into the 2022 race. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File) NEW YORK (AP) — Democratic U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi said Monday that he is running for New York governor in next year’s election, joining a competitive primary race that became wide open when former Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned.

Suozzi told reporters on a virtual news conference that he’s jumping into the 2022 race.

“I’m a common sense Democrat," Suozzi said. “I don’t believe it’s about going to the far left or to the far right; it’s about trying to find the answers to the problems that we face.”

The announcement by the 59-year-old congressman from Long Island came days after the U.S. House passed President Joe Biden’s expansive social and environment bill.

The legislation contains a provision boosting the limit on state and local taxes that people can deduct from federal taxes, something that disproportionately helps top earners from high-tax coastal states like New York and that Suozzi has been fighting for.

Suozzi had said for months he’s been considering a gubernatorial campaign but first wanted to get the tax deduction cap raised in Congress and use that to make his pitch to voters.

The bill passed recently by the House raised the $10,000 cap to $80,000. The legislation now moves to the Senate, where it could get scaled back.

Suozzi represents Long Island, including its wealthy north shore, and parts of Queens in New York’s 3rd Congressional District. He survived a tough reelection in 2020, eking out a win in in the swing district that tilts toward Democrats.

The open race to replace him will likely be highly contested by both parties. Democrats have a five-vote margin in the House and historically are expected to lose seats in the midterm elections because they are the party in power.

Rather than face another tough GOP challenge in a reelection battle, Suozzi in the governor’s race is expected to be able to draw on his moderate credentials as he faces several primary challengers running to his left.

The Democratic primary race includes Gov. Kathy Hochul, who took office after Cuomo resigned amid sexual harassment allegations; Attorney General Letitia James, whose investigation of the allegations prompted Cuomo’s resignation; and Jumaane Williams, New York City’s elected public advocate.


Embattled Kansas lawmaker arrested for second time in month

FILE – Rep. Aaron Coleman, D-Kansas City, speaks at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Kan., Jan. 22, 2021. A 21-year-old embattled Kansas lawmaker was arrested over the weekend on suspicion of drunken driving — his second arrest in less than a month. A Kansas trooper arrested Aaron Coleman around 1 a.m., Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, on Interstate 70 near Lawrence, the Kansas Highway Patrol said. Coleman was taken to the Douglas County Jail, where he bonded out hours later (Evert Nelson/The Topeka Capital-Journal via AP, File) LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) — A 21-year-old embattled Kansas lawmaker was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving — his second arrest in less than a month — and is facing fresh calls for his resignation or removal from office.

A Kansas trooper arrested Aaron Coleman around 1 a.m. Saturday on Interstate 70 near Lawrence, the Kansas Highway Patrol said. Coleman was taken to the Douglas County Jail, where he bonded out hours later.

Coleman did not immediately return phone and email messages left Monday morning by The Associated Press seeking comment.

At the time of the arrest, Coleman was already out on bond from an Oct. 30 domestic battery arrest . In that case, he allegedly pushed, hit and spit on his 18-year-old brother in a fight that erupted because the brother was going to get baptized, according to court documents.

The Kansas City, Kansas, Democrat has been embroiled in controversy since before he took office after being elected in 2020 and has acknowledged past abuses against girls and young women. A legislative committee reprimanded Coleman in writing in February over those abuses.

Last month, Coleman also was banned from the Kansas Department of Labor’s offices over allegations of disruptive behavior. Coleman said he was trying to help constituents.

Both Kansas House Speaker Ron Ryckman, a Republican, and Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly have joined the chorus of those calling for Coleman to resign. If he refuses to resign, Kelly said, the Legislature should remove his from office, saying his latest arrest “is further evidence that he is not fit to serve in the Kansas House of Representatives.”


Ballon d’Or 2021: Who will be crowned the best players in men’s and women’s football?

(CNN)The world’s best footballers will be recognized at the annual Ballon d’Or ceremony in Paris on Monday.

Lionel Messi, Robert Lewandowski and Mohamed Salah are among the favorites to be crowned the best men’s player, while Barcelona’s Alexia Putellas and Jennifer Hermoso headline the women’s nominees.

However, the scheduling of the awards in the middle of a women’s international break has drawn criticism, a decision that makes it hard for some of the nominees to attend.

For instance, Australia and Chelsea star Sam Kerr, who is in the running to be crowned the best player in the women’s game, is set to be a notable absentee from the ceremony with the Matildas facing the US in Newcastle on Tuesday.

"Incredibly disappointing that the highest award for the best female players in the world is not even accessible for them to attend — these things need to keep being highlighted as not acceptable," Rehanne Skinner, head coach of Tottenham Hotspur Women, said on Twitter.

Some players have been released in order to attend the awards, including Spanish internationals Putellas, Hermoso, Irene Paredes and Sandra Paños.

The quartet left training with the national team and will return ahead of the World Cup qualifier against Scotland in Seville on Tuesday. Ada Hegerberg won the inaugural Women’s Ballon d’Or award in 2018. CNN has contacted France Football, which organizes the Ballon d’Or awards, regarding the scheduling of this year’s ceremony.

"I don’t think it’s an intentional snub … I just think that the Ballon d’Or now by definition is both a men’s and women’s award, and in the third season, they really need to get it right and they need to promote it in that way," former New Zealand captain Rebecca Smith said on CNN World Sport.

"It’s just another one of those, "C ome on " — half the fun of the awards is having the players there.

"I’m not sure if Sam Kerr, should she win it, can jump on a private jet from Australia all the way to Paris to pick it up."

The women’s Ballon d’Or was introduced in 2018 and won by Norway’s Ada Hegerberg, while American Megan Rapinoe became the second winner the following year. Last year’s awards were canceled amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

Of the 20 players nominated for this year’s award, 10 play for Chelsea or Barcelona, the two sides that contested the Champions League final in May. Barcelona’s 4-0 victory in that game was the highlight of the side’s treble-winning season.

In the men’s award, Messi could claim a record-extending seventh Ballon d’Or having won the Copa América title with Argentina earlier this year. Messi poses with his sixth Ballon d’Or trophy in 2019. Lewandowski’s sensational goalscoring form for Bayern Munich has also put him in the running; the striker has netted 53 times this calendar year, more than any other player in Europe’s top five leagues.Liverpool’s Salah, the top scorer in the Premier League this season, and Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema, the top scorer so far in La Liga, are also among the favorites, as […]