Gianaris calls NYC PBA an “armed political organization”

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NEW YORK – State Senator Michael Gianaris on Tuesday evening called the Police Benevolent Association an “armed political organization.”

The comment came amid a crash on Twitter that began in the afternoon after Gianaris piqued the union after Nassau County State Senator Kevin Thomas, a Democrat, said the victory on Monday, after following his PBA-backed challenger Dennis Dunne in the initial tally. . Thousands of postal ballots ended up in favor of the Democrats.

“Hey @NYCPBA, here is the re-election of @KevinThomasNY and the 100% Democratic delegation from the Nassau Senate! You really should be managing your members’ money better, ”Gianaris tweeted.

The PBA, who spent $ 1 million to defeat Thomas, responded by telling Gianaris to look over his shoulder.

In an interview on NY1, Gianaris called the tweet a threat.

“It is certainly not something that a group, which represents more than 30,000 people armed and licensed to shoot across town, should be doing. I think the union has really lost its bearings, has gone off the rails, ”said the Democratic senator from Queens State. Inside the town hall the anchor Errol Louis.

He said that although the PBA viewed the tweet as a political threat instead of a physical threat, it was threatening from a union made up of armed officers.

Responding to Gianaris’ comments on NY1, PBA Chairman Patrick Lynch said in a statement: “Senator Gianaris and the company are feigning ignorance. They know they are looking over their shoulders at voters who are fed up with the anti-cop and pro-criminal agenda of the Democratic Senate Conference. The PBA will continue to fight politicians who turn their backs on our members and the people we serve. “

Critics wondered why the PBA had invested so much money in a race that hadn’t even taken place in New York. While the PBA makes money from dues, it also collects union dues from its members, whose salaries are ultimately paid by New York City taxpayers. According to the PBA, approximately 3,000 of its members reside in the Long Island district of Thomas.

Sources told NY1 in October that the police union was angry with Thomas because he promised them he would not vote to repeal the law known as 50-a, which protected police disciplinary records from public view. Lawmakers voted to repeal the 50-a following clashes between police and protesters following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May. Lawyers have been calling for its repeal for decades. Thomas was not the only senator to vote for.

An overwhelming Democratic majority after all?

Like many Democrats in New York City, Gianaris is now happy with the party’s stance after the disappointing results of the in-person polls on election night. Initially, it looked like Democrats would lose some seats in the state legislature or at least be denied the opportunity to secure a qualified majority in the state Senate.

Now, with hundreds of thousands of mail-in ballots – and those mostly breaking ballots for Democrats – Democrats have been ahead in many races. Watching the six state Senate races that are still undecided on Tuesday night, Gianaris, the state Senate deputy majority leader, told NY1 there was a good chance the party would end up. increase its majority to at least 42 seats.

If that happens, the party would gain a qualified majority that would allow it to override any veto issued by the governor. That – assuming no Democrats split up – could open the door for Democrats to embrace progressive priorities that Cuomo opposes, including a tax on millionaires and billionaires. Democrats already have a qualified majority in the National Assembly.

When asked if Democrats plan to withdraw some of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s expanded powers the legislature has given him to respond quickly to the height of the pandemic, Gianaris said as the party waited to see how many senators it had. would have, he expected he would “reaffirm himself”.

“As we approach next year, I think things are very different now. We are still in an emergency situation when it comes to the pandemic. But we have a few more ideas on how to handle this, and I would expect the legislature to intend to reassert itself – working in tandem with the governor, ”said Gianaris. “He’s done a lot of things well, and we would be happy to partner with him to continue on those things. And on the points on which we do not agree, we will certainly assert ourselves.

Some experts question whether a state legislature armed with a qualified majority would lose swinging seats in the 2022 state election if it passed many items on the progressive wishlist, like a wealth tax. When asked if the party would moderate demands with such a large tent of varying interests, the state senator reiterated that he still thinks the tax is popular statewide.

“I am a big supporter of taxing the rich to help us get through the fiscal crisis we have,” he said. “It’s incredibly popular. It’s popular in New York, it’s popular in the upstate, it’s popular in the suburbs. He is popular with Democrats, Independents and Republicans.

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Watch the full interview above.

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This story includes reporting from Juan Manuel Benitez and Zack Fink.

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