The National Rifle Association is suffering grave financial harm that threatens its ability to pursue its advocacy mission because of a “blacklisting” campaign by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York regulators, the gun rights group said in a federal lawsuit. In an amended version of a federal lawsuit filed in May, the Virginia-based NRA said it lost insurance coverage after the state’s enforcement actions against companies underwriting an NRA-branded insurance program called Carry Guard. It said the Cuomo administration was persuading other insurers to avoid doing business with the NRA.
Without liability coverage, the NRA said it can’t maintain its offices, operate educational programs or hold rallies and other political events.
The amended complaint was filed in late July in federal court in northern New York. It names the Democratic governor along with the state Department of Financial Services and its superintendent, Maria Vullo, as defendants.
Cuomo said late Friday the state is filing a motion to dismiss the lawsuit. “New York will not be intimidated by the NRA’s frivolous lawsuit to advance its dangerous gun-peddling agenda,” he said.
Cuomo added, “If I could have put the NRA out of business, I would have done it 20 years ago.”
On Saturday, advocates of stricter gun control measures protested outside the NRA’s headquarters in Northern Virginia. Organizers were pushing for, among other things, the revocation of the heavyweight group’s tax-exempt status.
The lawsuit said “back-channel communications” by the Cuomo administration “made it clear to banks and insurers that it is bad business in New York to do business with the NRA.” As a result, it said multiple financial institutions have entered into consent orders that compel them to end longstanding business relationships with the NRA in New York and elsewhere.
“Absent injunctive relief, defendants’ blacklisting campaign will continue to damage the NRA and its members, as well as endanger the free speech and association rights guaranteed by the constitutions of the United States and the State of New York,” the lawsuit said.
“The actions of defendants are a blatant attack on the First Amendment rights of our organization,” William A. Brewer III, an attorney representing the NRA, said in a statement on Friday.
The lawsuit asks the court to have the Cuomo administration stop its practices against the NRA.
In addition to various communications between Vullo and financial institutions at Cuomo’s direction, the lawsuit referenced an April 20 tweet by Cuomo: “The NRA is an extremist organization. I urge companies in New York state to revisit any ties they have to the NRA and consider their reputations, and responsibility to the public.”
The lawsuit said, “Defendants’ abuses will imminently deprive the NRA of basic bank-depository services, corporate insurance coverage, and other financial services essential to the NRA’s corporate existence and its advocacy mission.”
The motion to dismiss argues that the actions by the governor and Department of Financial Services were designed to protect New Yorkers and they don’t harm the NRA’s First Amendment rights or other constitutional protections, Cuomo said.
Voting Today Can Get You A Bunch Of Free Stuff
Today is election day in the US and with comes not only an opportunity to exercise your civic responsibility, right and privilege, but also to get a bunch of free food and services. Although ideally people would vote even if they didn’t get a free side of fries in return, it’s good that people are going to get to the polls somehow.
Uber and Lyft are both offering discounts today, taking their political rivalry to the next level. Uber, you may remember, has been boycotted after showing inadvertent support for Trump.
The company declined to participate in a work stoppage that New York taxi drivers were engaged in to protest Trumps travel ban. Lyft became the service of choice for many people after the #deleteuber movement took hold. Now, both companies are offering deals on rides to the polls.
Uber’s is a discount only for first-time users if they put in a special election day code and Lyft is giving across the board 50% discounts for those going to vote.
State Assembly Candidate from Bay Ridge Makes Ends Meet by Driving for Uber
Some politicians go home after a debate. State Assembly Candidate Adam Baumel gets in his car and does a shift with the ride share app Uber.
Baumel is running against incumbent Nicole Malliotakis to represent parts of Staten Island and Brooklyn. He started driving for the rideshare startup Uber in May 2016 while getting his bachelor’s degree through the G.I. Bill at CUNY’s John Jay College of Criminal Justice.
“I knew there was no guarantee I’d have a job immediately with a Political Science degree,” said Baumel, who moved from Harlem to Bay Ridge in May 2016, “So I made sure to set myself up to make income in some other way.”
Not long after, Baumel joined Stacey Pfeffer Amato’s state assembly campaign while continuing to supplement his income with Uber and has continued driving since. He said it gives him a particular perspective into what his potential constituents face.
“It shows I’m not just talk,” said Baumel, who has also driven for Lyft in the past. “I’m about the action that would benefit people who live the same sort of lifestyle I do.” He said he supports the legislation recently passed that would set a minimum wage for drivers of for-hire vehicles.
Baumel also said he identifies as an organized labor candidate and is frustrated by the amount of money politicians on both sides of the aisle have taken from union busters. “New York is a union state, and I see a lot of elected officials not acting like it.”
As an Uber driver in New York, he is in good company. The city has about 80,000 drivers who work for app-based dispatch companies like Uber or Lyft, according to a study co-authored by The New School and the University of California, Berkeley.
Baumel started driving a wheelchair-accessible vehicle nine months in and said it helped him to better understand the challenges many New Yorkers face when moving about the city.
Only 22 percent of New York subway stops are wheelchair accessible. Even then, the inefficiency of those stations keeps some wheelchair users from using them altogether. This is a hot topic in Bay Ridge, where the city recently renovated a station without making it accessible.
Liam McCabe, the president of the newly founded Verrazzano Republicans Club and a communication specialist at the New York Taxi and Limousine Commission, drove for Uber last year during his own campaign for city council. He said he left his previous job working for Rep. Dan Donovan to avoid the possible conflict of interests working for an elected official might cause.
“I thought it was good to separate myself, and Uber allowed me to do that,” said McCabe.
Uber-driver candidates can also boast an endorsement that non-drivers cannot: their ratings. “My Uber rating is actually something I’m very proud of, Baumel said. “It’s a 4.96, and I’m about to hit 5,000 rides. I’ve been doing this for a while.”
“I think it’s kind of cool,” said Soha Said, who works at Mando Foods Mini Mart in Bay Ridge. “He’s just like us!”
Voters, You’re Being Manipulated
When the bigot who shot up a Pittsburgh synagogue arrived at the local hospital emergency room to be treated for his injuries, he was shouting, “Kill all the Jews.” He was then promptly treated, very professionally, by three Jews.
The hospital president, Jeffrey K. Cohen, a member of the congregation that had been attacked, met there with the suspect to ask respectfully how he was doing. (I try to avoid using the names of mass shooters, to avoid giving them attention they sometime crave.)
“He asked me who I was,” Dr. Cohen told ABC News. “I said, ‘I’m Dr. Cohen, the president of the hospital.’”
Side by side with the worst of humanity we find the best. And in Pittsburgh, there was more of the best. The Muslim community promptly raised $214,000 for the victims of the synagogue shooting and offered to provide security for Jews in the area.
HIAS, the Jewish agency whose assistance for refugees infuriated the synagogue attacker (he blamed Jews for bringing in brown people in the caravan from Central America), has been flooded with donations, many from non-Jews. As my own feeble way to challenge hatred, I donated to HIAS on Saturday and suggested to my newsletter readers that they might as well. If we all find our own ways to light a candle, we can drive out the enveloping darkness.
These expressions of our shared humanity are important in and of themselves, but also as a way of fighting back at the fear and loathing that are being weaponized in this election cycle. One example: the breathless fear-mongering about the caravan still almost 1,000 miles away in Mexico.
Let’s be blunt: Voters, you are being manipulated.
President Trump has described the caravan as an “invasion of our country,” and Fox News referred to it as an invasion more than 60 times in October, along with 75 times on Fox Business Channel, according to CNN.
This should be a nonstory. As I’ve written, most in the shrinking caravan will never enter the United States and they would amount to less than one-tenth of 1 percent of immigrants this year. In just the period of the caravan’s journey, another 16,800 Americans may die from drugs — a real threat!
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