New York Capital Brief:

New Draft Maps for the Assembly

Last Thursday, the New York State Independent Redistricting Commission presented its new draft map of New York State’s Assembly districts. The 10-member commission reached a consensus and unanimously passed the draft, signaling another round of public hearings to collect feedback. The hearings will begin next month.

This time, the Republican and Democratic members of the Commission sought to highlight how they are unified behind a single proposal. The maps represent the latest chapter in New York’s drawn-out redistricting saga that began when the Commission was deadlocked in January, causing the Democratic-controlled Legislature to take the lead on crafting maps for Congressional boundaries as well as State Senate and Assembly district lines.  After the Court determined there was evidence of gerrymandering in Legislative-drawn maps, the maps were thrown out and an independent Special Master was appointed to redraw them.

Click here to view the Draft Assembly Maps.


DOH Commissioner Resigning

New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Mary Bassett has submitted her resignation, announcing that she will step down at the end of the year.  She will return to her role in academia at the Harvard Chan School of Public Health effective January 1st, 2023.

The resignation comes after Bassett served just over one year as New York’s top health official in Governor Kathy Hochul’s administration.

In her statement she commented “I am grateful that the governor gave me the opportunity to serve as commissioner, and I know that the department and public health will be in good hands thanks to her leadership and the incredible talent and dedication of the staff. Though I am moving back to Massachusetts, I will always be a New Yorker, and I look forward to cheering on the department’s accomplishments in the coming years.”

She added that her decision to leave now would allow the next commissioner to have the chance to lead for a full, four-year term under Governor Kathy Hochul.  Her successor has not yet been appointed.


AG’s Top Aide Resigns

Ibrahim Khan, Chief of Staff to Attorney General Letitia James, resigned on Monday after the law firm Littler Mendelson substantiated allegations of sexual harassment. James confirmed Khan resigned after what she called an “impartial investigation by the outside law firm.”

The AG’s spokesperson commented, “The Office of Attorney General has protocols in place to thoroughly investigate any allegation of misconduct. The office takes these matters with the utmost seriousness and this situation is no different. An independent, impartial investigation was conducted, and the employee has since resigned.”


State Senate Race Hand Recount

On Tuesday evening, the Onondaga County Board of Elections announced that they had finished the hand count of all 95,104 votes in the uncalled race between Democratic State Senator Mannion and Republican challenger Rebecca Shiroff in Central New York’s 50th State Senate District.

The initial count of the ballots ended with Mannion leading Shiroff by just 27 votes. That close margin prompted the automatic recount by hand that is close to being complete. Should Mannion’s lead hold, his re-election will pad the comfortable majority Democrats have in the State Senate.


 Charges Dismissed Against Ex-Lt. Gov

On Monday, U.S. District Judge J. Paul Oetken of the Southern District of New York, dismissed the bribery and fraud charges against former Democratic Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin, but did not agree to toss two charges of falsified business records.

Benjamin, a former State Senator, resigned as Lieutenant Governor after he was accused by federal prosecutors of sending State money to a Harlem-based real estate developer in exchange for campaign contributions for his unsuccessful bid for New York City comptroller.

Government watchdog groups in New York said they feared the decision in the Benjamin case, and the broader arguments before the Supreme Court, would only make the notorious pay-to-play culture in Albany worse.

Mr. Benjamin’s lawyers cast Monday’s decision as “vindication” of the former Lieutenant Governor. They said the charges “unfairly cost him his position” and were “based on nothing more than routine fund-raising” by Mr. Benjamin and his attempt to support a nonprofit run by a developer who contributed to his campaigns.