EXCLUSIVE: Catholic Church spent $2M on major N.Y. lobbying firms to block child-sex law reform!

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ALBANY — Not leaving it to divine chance, the state Catholic Conference has turned in recent years to some of Albany’s most well-connected and influential lobby firms to help block a bill that would make it easier for child sex abuse victims to seek justice.

The Catholic Conference, headed by Timothy Cardinal Dolan, has used Wilson Elser Moskowitz Edelman & Dicker, Patricia Lynch & Associates, Hank Sheinkopf, and Mark Behan Communications to lobby against the Child Victims Act as well as for or against other measures.

All told, the conference spent more than $2.1 million on lobbying from 2007 through the end of 2015, state records show. That does not include the conference’s own internal lobbying team.

Filings show the lobbyists were retained, in part, to work on issues associated with “statute of limitations” and “timelines for commencing certain civil actions related to sex offenses.” Other issues included parochial school funding and investment tax credits.

“They are willing to spend limitless money in order to basically keep bad guys from being accountable for their actions,” said Melanie Blow, chief operations officer of the Stop Abuse Campaign. “I think they’re doing it because they don’t want to have to pay out settlements.”

Added Kathryn Robb, an advocate and survivor who says she was abused by her brother as a 9-year-old: “If they need to spend that much money on lobbying, clearly, then, they have some pretty big secrets to hide.”

While a far cry from the millions in lobbying top special interests spend in Albany each year, advocates for child sex abuse survivors say the $2.1 million spent likely represents a worthwhile investment to the Catholic Conference if it can continue to block legislation that would eliminate the statute of limitations on child sex abuse civil cases and open a one-year window to bring lawsuits for victims who can no longer sue under current law.

The Catholic Conference has argued that opening a one-year window to revive old cases could ultimately bankrupt the Church.

The firms the Catholic Conference chose is also telling.

Wilson Elser has long been Albany’s biggest lobbying firm. The firm represented the Catholic Conference from at least 2007 through the end of 2015 and was paid more than $1 million during that time, according to online filings with the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

After several key people either left the firm or reduced their responsibilities, the Church did not renew the contract with Wilson Elser for 2016, sources said.

Wilson Elser, which was being paid $10,000 a month by the Catholic Conference, had no comment.

In its place, state records show, the Catholic Conference hired another prominent firm, Greenberg Traurig, which it is paying $6,000-a-month. The lobbyist from the firm representing the Church is Michael Murphy, who used to be an assistant counsel for the Senate Republicans.

The Senate GOP opposes the one-year “lookback” window that Democrats are calling for.

The Catholic Church, some Orthodox Jewish groups, and other private entities oppose legislation by Assemblywoman Margaret Markey (D-Queens) and Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) that would eliminate the time limit that prohibits adults who were victimized as children from bringing civil cases after their 23rd birthdays.

Another top firm, Patricia Lynch & Associates, whose namesake had close ties to now disgraced Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was hired by the Catholic Conference in 2009. Lynch’s firm for many years was ranked in the top 3 of well-paid lobbyists.

Lynch’s hiring by the Catholic Conference came after the Assembly passed different versions of the Child Victims Act four times from 2006 to 2008. The measure never came up again for a vote after Lynch was hired.

ISVEKI2I64F4PEPZ62W7X62HQQKathryn Robb, who was abused as a child, said the Catholic Conference is hiding something if it has to spend big money on lobby firms. (Jefferson Siegel/New York Daily News)

“Once Ms. Lynch lobbied for the Catholic Conference, Mr. Silver’s support for our bill ended, and the bill did not come out of the Assembly’s Codes Committee … which as speaker, he controlled,” John Aretakis, a former lawyer and an advocate for victims of clergy sex abuse, wrote in a scathing letter recently to a judge handling Silver’s recent criminal sentencing.

State lobbying records show the firm’s contract with the Catholic Conference was terminated earlier this year, not long after Lynch was outed in court papers as having had an affair with Silver.

Silver was sentenced earlier this month to 12 years in prison after his conviction on federal corruption charges.

Lynch, whose firm was being paid $7,500-a-month, would only say her contract with the Catholic Conference was ended by “mutual consent.”

Sheinkopf, meanwhile, has had close ties with Gov. Cuomo, the former leadership of the Senate Democrats when they were in control of the chamber, and even the Senate Republicans.

Like the others who were hired by the Catholic Conference, he would not discuss the specifics about what he does for the $5,000-a-month he is being paid.

“They like me,” he said. “They think I’m smart.”

In an email, Catholic Conference spokesman Dennis Poust wouldn’t comment directly on his organization’s lobbying efforts. He also would not comment on the reasoning behind why specific lobbying firms were chosen.

“The Catholic Conference lobbies on many issues, from assisted suicide to farm worker rights to school choice to criminal justice reform,” Poust said.

He said the conference’s lobbying activity is in full compliance with the law and is reported, as required, to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics.

“As such it is all a matter of public record,” Poust said. “We have no further comment beyond that.”

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Sorry! Gang Leader ‘Apologized’ After Slain Teen May Have Been A Victim Of Mistaken Identity

• WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

• Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, was butchered in a frenzied attack on Wednesday

• Video shows him being dragged from a bodega and slashed with a machete

• Now cops fear he could have been a victim of a tragic case of mistaken identity

• Could have been confused for a man in a sex video involving attackers’ relative

• Victim’s family members have gotten apologies from on Facebook from gang

By Snejana Farberov For Dailymail.com

The 15-year-old who was dragged out of a Bronx bodega and brutally slashed to death with a machete may have been the victim of a tragic case of mistaken identity involving a sex video, according to cops – and now gang leaders are apologizing via social media.

Investigators believe Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, could have been mistaken for a man in an online sex tape with a relative of one of the attackers before he was butchered outside the Zesarina Grocery at 11.40pm on Wednesday.

It came as his mother, Leandra Feliz, 48, described her son as a ‘sweet’ kid with no connections to gangs who had enrolled on an NYPD program to become a police officer.

‘His dream in the future was to be a detective,’ she told the New York Post. ‘Since he was five years old, he told me, “Mommy, I want to be a police”.’

Harrowing video: Surveillance video shows a group of suspects dragging Lesandro Guzman-Feliz, 15, out of a bodega in The Bronx on Wednesday night. Cops now say he could have been the victim of mistaken identity

Frenzied attack: The men pulled out knives and machetes and proceeded to stab and slash the teenager

Brutal: The men are seen in the footage repeatedly knifing Guzman-Feliz on the sidewalk in front of the grocery store

Cry for help: After the attackers fled, the mortally wounded by got up, with blood pouring from a wound on his neck

Guzman-Feliz tried to run to a hospital, but collapsed a block away. A woman tried to stop the bleeding from his neck, but he died on the sidewalk

The victim’s brother in law Derek Grullon, 19, told the New York Daily News that ,’ received messages on Facebook from men claiming to be part of Trinitarios, a Dominican gang known for violence.

‘They said, ‘We had the wrong person”,’ according to Grullon, who said his wife – the victim’s sister – received similar messages.

She got a two-minute video mea culpa via Snapchat, he told the NY Post, in which the gang leader ‘said they kicked all of them out of the gang.’

Upon getting the message, ‘We cried’, Grullon told the Post. ‘He was innocent.’

According to the News, the sex tape that started the fracas showed one man rapping while another had sex with a woman whose face was covered in a shirt. It’s not clear which of the two men Guzman-Feliz may have been mistaken for.

The 15-year-old attended high school and dreamed of becoming a police detective one day

CCTV video posted by Facebook user Riichy Rich on Friday shows the pack of men forcibly dragging Guzman-Feliz by the hood of his jacket out of the bodega and frantically stabbing and slashing him with a machete before fleeing on foot.

After a few seconds, Guzman-Feliz is seen standing on the street corner with blood pouring from a wound in his neck.

He then runs across the street, heading towards the nearby St Barnabas Hospital.

According to police, the mortally wounded boy never reached the hospital and collapsed a block away.

Another extremely graphic video posted on social media by a different user shows Guzman-Feliz drenched in blood from head to toe, sitting on the sidewalk with his back against the wall.

A woman tries to apply pressure to his neck before police officers and paramedics surround him. Guzman-Feliz succumbed to his injuries at the scene.

Officers said with his dying breath, the 15-year-old asked for some water, according to ABC 7 New York.

Investigators said he had told his mother he was going to the bodega a block away from his house to either repay a debt or lend $5 to a friend. He never made it home that night.

The victim’s sister, Genesis Collado-Feliz, 17, said her younger brother loved playing video games and would come to her for advice about girls. She said Lesandro had recently become friends with a group of older boys, but she insisted he was not in a gang.

‘He tried to run into the store because he thought he’d be safe. They dragged him from the store like a dog,’ Collado-Feliz told the New York Post. ‘They were grown men, and he was only 15.’

Guzman-Feliz was a student at the Dr. Richard Izquierdo Health and Science Charter School. News 12 The Bronx reported that he had aspired to become a police detective.

Police are searching for at least six suspects in connection to the vicious killing. They were last seen driving away in a white sedan and a dark sedan.

The suspects were last seen driving away in a white sedan and a dark sedan (pictured)

Sarah Sanders asked to leave Red Hen restaurant for her political affiliation

LEXINGTON, Va. (WDBJ7/AP) — White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders says she was kicked out of Red Hen restaurant in Lexington due to working for President Donald Trump.

Sanders took to Twitter to confirm the incident, and said that she always treats those she disagrees with “respectfully.”

“Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for [President Trump] and I politely left,” Sanders tweeted. “Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so.”

Sarah Sanders

@PressSec

Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so

10:53 AM – Jun 23, 2018


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Jaike Foley-Schultz, a waiter at the restaurant, said in a Facebook that has since been taken down that he served Sanders and her family “for a total of 2 minutes” before the owner asked the press secretary’s party to leave.

Del. Ben Cline, native of Lexington issued an apology on Twitter “on behalf of his hometown” to Press Secretary Sanders, apologizing for “the rudeness of one liberal New York transplant,” Cline tweeted.

Ben Cline

@Cline4Virginia

On behalf of my hometown of Lexington, I want to apologize for the rudeness of one liberal New York transplant (who also happens to be Meryl Streep’s cousin). We hope you will come back and enjoy our area’s true southern hospitality.

Sarah Sanders

@PressSec

 

Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so

11:19 AM – Jun 23, 2018


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Sanders’ treatment at the restaurant created a social media commotion with people on both sides weighing in to provide their critique, including her father, former Arkansas governor and Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.

“Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the ‘Hate Plate,'” Huckabee said, quickly generating 2,000 replies in about 30 minutes. “And appetizers are ‘small plates for small minds.'”

Gov. Mike Huckabee

@GovMikeHuckabee

Bigotry. On the menu at Red Hen Restaurant in Lexington VA. Or you can ask for the “Hate Plate”. And appetizers are “small plates for small minds”

Sarah Sanders

@PressSec

 

Last night I was told by the owner of Red Hen in Lexington, VA to leave because I work for @POTUS and I politely left. Her actions say far more about her than about me. I always do my best to treat people, including those I disagree with, respectfully and will continue to do so

11:14 AM – Jun 23, 2018


21.7K


30.3K people are talking about this

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On Yelp, a reviewer of the restaurant from Los Angeles wrote: “Don’t eat here if you’re a Republican, wearing a MAGA hat or a patriot.”

“12/10 would recommend. Bonus: this place is run by management who stuck up for their beliefs and who are true Americans. THANK YOU!!!!” said a reviewer from Commerce City, Colorado.

WDBJ7 has reached out to Red Hen and restaurant employees have not commented on the situation.

Crying migrant girl on TIME magazine cover was not separated from mother, family says!

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A little girl shown in a viral photo crying as a U.S. Border Patrol agent detained her mother – and used by TIME magazine to symbolize the Trump administration’s family separation policy – reportedly was never separated from her mom.

“Welcome to America,” declared a somber TIME cover, which showed the picture of the Honduran child Yanela Sanchez next to a towering President Trump.

TIME, which is standing by the cover despite the new information, originally called it “an image America could not ignore” and interviewed the photographer, as did other outlets. TIME followed up with another article entirely about the cover and “the story behind” it.

The picture was featured in international coverage of the policy around the world. The New York Daily News also put Sanchez on the cover of its June 16 issue with the headline: “Callous. Soulless. Craven. Trump.”

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CNN analyst Chris Cillizza wrote an entire article on the TIME cover: “It shows the compassion gap that exists between the Trump administration’s ‘zero-tolerance’ border policy and the real-life people that are affected.”

But multiple outlets interviewed the father of the girl behind the iconic image, and he said he had learned that his two-year-old daughter was detained with her mother at a facility in Texas, and the two were not separated at all. The Honduran government confirmed his version of events to Reuters.

The Washington Post reported that the mother, Sandra Sanchez, had previously been deported in 2013 to Honduras. Her husband told the Post that she left without telling him she was taking Yanela with her and couldn’t contact her. But then he saw the picture on the news.

“You can imagine how I felt when I saw that photo of my daughter. It broke my heart. It’s difficult as a father to see that, but I know now that they are not in danger. They are safer now than when they were making that journey to the border,” Denis Javier Varela Hernandez told The Daily Mail.

He also said he did not support his wife’s decision to make the perilous trek to the U.S. and that they have three other children together.

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“I didn’t support it. I asked her, why? Why would she want to put our little girl through that? But it was her decision at the end of the day.”

But despite the dad’s explanation, TIME stood by its cover in a statement Friday.

“The June 12 photograph of the 2-year-old Honduran girl became the most visible symbol of the ongoing immigration debate in America for a reason: Under the policy enforced by the administration, prior to its reversal this week, those who crossed the border illegally were criminally prosecuted, which in turn resulted in the separation of children and parents,” TIME editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said. “Our cover and our reporting capture the stakes of this moment.”

Yet, in its story about the photo, TIME included the following correction: “The original version of this story misstated what happened to the girl in the photo after she taken from the scene. The girl was not carried away screaming by U.S. Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.”

The confusion and misrepresentation over the family’s circumstances came amid a chaotic week in which passions flared over the administration’s controversial “zero-tolerance” policy that seeks prosecution for virtually all illegal border crossers. That policy led to family separations, but Trump backed off with an executive order earlier this week allowing families to stay together during proceedings.

He faced bipartisan criticism over the separations, but the outrage reached intense levels on the left.

Activists, lawmakers and journalists have accused the administration of running “internment camps,” while Trump administration officials have had their cell phone numbers revealed online and been chased out of restaurants.

“We must maintain a Strong Southern Border. We cannot allow our Country to be overrun by illegal immigrants as the Democrats tell their phony stories of sadness and grief, hoping it will help them in the elections. Obama and others had the same pictures, and did nothing about it!” Trump tweeted Friday.

It’s the latest immigration-related misstep by media outlets and reporters.

Last month, liberals and journalists rushed to share an article featuring pictures of children locked in cages at an Arizona detention center. Many such tweets were quickly deleted or clarified when other users pointed out that the article was from 2014 — during then-President Barack Obama’s administration.

EMBARRASSMENT FOR NEW YORK TIMES AS TOP EDITOR FALLS FOR OLD PHOTO AMID WEEKEND OF MISLEADING ANTI-TRUMP TWEETS 

Others shared a tweet about a “prison bus” that Immigration and Customs officials allegedly used to carry babies. But the bus was used for educational field trips, and the picture was published on April 2016 — about six months before Trump won the presidency.

Shooting suspect arrested in death of XXXTentacion – NY Daily News

Dedrick Williams arrested for the murder of XXXTentacion on June 20, 2018 in Deerfield Beach, Florida. (Deerfield Beach Sheriff’s Office)

A suspect has been arrested in the death of rapper XXXTentacion, according to police.

Dedrick D. Williams was taken into custody Wednesday, two days after the artist, whose birth name was Jahseh Onfroy, was gunned down in South Florida.

The arrest was confirmed to the Daily News by Broward County Sheriff’s Office Captain Robert Schakenberg.

XXXTentacion, 20, was outside a motorsports store in the Miami area’s Deerfield Beach when two armed men approached him in what is believed to have been a robbery, according to sheriff’s investigators.

They then allegedly fled in an SUV.

Charges for Williams, 22, include first-degree murder, a probation violation for theft of a car motor vehicle and driving without a valid license.

After the arrest it was not clear if police were still looking for another suspect.

This is a developing story and will be updated