Christopher Twarowski

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Christopher Twarowski is editor in chief of the Long Island Press and its chief of investigations. He holds an M.S. in Journalism with a specialization in investigative journalism from Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and was an inaugural member of the school’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. He also holds an M.A. from the school with a concentration in business and economics. Twarowski has written for the financial and metro desks of The Washington Post and has earned more than 100 local, state and national journalism awards and accolades.

On The Death Of Wayne Barrett, Legendary Muckraker & Inspiration To Countless Journalists

Wayne Barrett
Legendary investigative journalist Wayne Barrett. (Photo by David Shankbone)

The world has lost one of the greatest journalists to ever wield a pen.

Wayne Barrett, the legendary muckraker and teacher, has died; his beloved wife Fran telling media outlets due to interstitial lung disease. He was 71 years old.

As I sit and type this on the eve of the presidential inauguration amid texts and calls from friends and fellow journalists relaying the news, it dawns on me that I’m not even sure I’ll be able to finish this post, let alone write something that even comes close to encapsulating what Wayne Barrett has meant to me, countless other journalists, or journalism itself.

It sort of feels like a shotgun blast to the chest, actually. I don’t want to overstate or understate Wayne’s impact on me, his mastery of the craft of investigative journalism, or his unquantifiable influence on legions—and I mean legions—of others. I just feel I owe it to him to at least try and write something, anything, to even partially convey his significance and how many people he’s touched, with the minimal prospect of inspiring even just one other person who perhaps didn’t know him to learn more about his life and work.

Wayne Barrett spent nearly 40 years at the alt-weekly Village Voice, was a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a frequent contributor to The Daily Beast and New York Daily News. Throughout his career he exposed corruption and malfeasance of nearly every kind, and in recent years he’s rightfully been recognized as one of, if not the, foremost authorities on Donald Trump.

Wayne was my master’s thesis advisor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in the inaugural class of the school’s Toni Stabile Center for Investigative Journalism. He’d graduated from the school in 1968 and served as an adjunct professor there for decades. A massive fan of the Voice and an aspiring muckraker myself here at the alt Long Island Press, I’d known some of his exposés before heading into the program, mostly his epic, epic reporting about Rudy Giuliani.

Speaking truth to power and holding the powerful accountable, no matter their party affiliation, was Wayne’s forte, and his books—among them, Rudy! An Investigative Biography of Rudolph Giuliani (2001), Grand Illusion: The Untold Story of Rudy Giuliani and 9/11 (2006), 1992’s Trump: The Deals & The Downfall, and its 2016 republication Trump: The Greatest Show On Earth: The Deals, The Downfall, The Reinvention—should be mandatory reading for anyone, journalist or not.

Wayne was already a hero to me, and I was star-struck. You can imagine, then, how absolutely floored I was when on our first introduction, in front of the center’s larger class, he commended me on some of my own investigative dabblings. I’d soon learn that research, research, research was one of his hallmarks—something he’d cement within me, too—the hard way, at times. His words that day inspired me to want to learn as much as I possibly could about investigative journalism, and to do better. He might as well have dumped barrels of gasoline on an already seething fire.

Wayne Barrett was a force of nature. He was the epitome of what a journalist should aspire to be. He was a truth-teller in every aspect of the word. Dogged, relentless, tenacious, terrifyingly ferocious—pick an adjective or superlative relaying unparalleled investigative bloodthirst for the truth and put it in front of his name. His anger and outrage was literally the stuff of legends; I think anybody privileged enough to have known or studied under him would attest to that. His passion was infectious.

Wayne possessed a fury and a determination and a dedication to getting at the core of a story I’ve just never witnessed before to that scale, in anyone. (God help you if you missed a deadline or an objective during your master’s thesis; well over six feet tall, Wayne was also physically imposing, and could be very intimidating.) He owned New York City, and was feared and revered.

When I say he impacted and inspired “countless” others, I mean countless. Legions went on to conduct investigative journalism a la Wayne Barrett, as a direct result of his influence. I got a rare glimpse of just how many at a gathering for him a few years ago, where I met some of his infamous gangs of interns, both former and current, who he’d throw right into the investigative fire and disperse across the city to hunt down sources, research critical data and interrogate and confront targets of his equally countless probes.

Good luck if you were on their visitation list.

Plus, there’s a definite Wayne Barrett Domino Effect. Those influenced by him, influence others, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. Well the room that night was full of hellraisers. Two off the top of my head included Wayne’s close friend and fellow investigative journalism heavyweight Tom Robbins—who left the Village Voice in solidarity with Wayne when he was unceremoniously let go in 2011, and who’s currently investigative journalist in residence at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism—and former Voice bloodhound and Wayne Barrett intern Bill Bastone, of document treasure trove TheSmokingGun.com. I think Bastone hosted the get-together.

It was a celebration of Wayne, and there were a lot of laughs as well as a ton of stories. Throughout the night, guests, in their own ways, took turns telling him how much he meant to them, how much they learned from him, and how much he changed their lives. But just being there seemed to be recognition enough for the guest of honor.

It is literally impossible for me to list every little thing about journalism that I learned from Wayne. You learned lifetimes’ worth literally just sitting in the same room with the guy and talking about stories, or through his books and articles, listening to him recall tales and techniques from the frontlines in the field, or even just talking to someone else about him.

He taught us to dig. He taught us to question. He taught us to leave no stone unturned, to be fearless, and to never give up. Some of this he taught simply by being himself, simply by being Wayne. Leading by example.

The man was a legend, in the truest sense of the word. Nobody else like him. Never will be again.

It’s because of Wayne that I learned of another investigative warlord, Jack Newfield, and City for Sale: Ed Koch and the Betrayal of New York, which they wrote together.

And I remember bringing up Newfield to Wayne one afternoon when we were alone in an office at Columbia going over a stage of my thesis, and I could tell that just the mere mention of Newfield’s name sparked something inside him. It’s hard to explain, but there was a definitive vibe I picked up on almost as immediately as I enunciated those three syllables, a subtle, visceral, guttural reaction.

Respect, admiration, reverence, love—what exactly came to Wayne’s mind at that precise moment, I’ll never know, but I do know that just the thought of Jack Newfield, his mentor and friend, touched him, deeply.

I know I’ll feel something similar when somebody mentions Wayne Barrett.

I came upon the following excerpt from an obituary Wayne wrote about Newfield upon his death in 2004:

“We still feel his hand guiding us whenever our fingers hit the keys. We will hear his whispered advice for thousands of stories yet to be written: Discover. Dissect. Dig. Track. Reveal. Confront. Besiege. Level. Care…”

These same words apply to how I feel about its author. I know he’s still here, guiding us, and he will live on in our words, stories and deeds. He’s at every door we knock on, beside every source we interview, every lead we chase down.

I know this. I feel this. I believe this.

I’m sure I’ll write more about Wayne at another time—it’s hitting me now as I write this that everyone who’s ever known him should, as often as possible—but right now, I just can’t stop thinking about him and wishing I’d spent more time with him, learning from him, getting to know him more.

A friend and fellow journalist just called and shared the sentiment that one of the most tragic things about all this is that he leaves us when this industry, this craft, this world, needs him the most—bizarrely, fatefully, perhaps, mere hours before one of his greatest investigative muses ascends to the most powerful position in the free world.

This same friend called a few months ago and feverishly laid out his plan to crowdfund an independent investigative news outlet consisting of Wayne Barrett and a team of disciples that would syndicate its discoveries in newspapers and media outlets across the country, maybe the globe. It was an idea I actually think he had a few years prior.

He believed, as I and so many others do, that Wayne’s brand of fearless, relentless, investigative journalism is not only necessary, but absolutely mission-critical, so much so that the public would fund it—the very notion itself testament to Wayne’s undying impact, inspiration, influence.

As long as we continue to share these tales, and talk about him, and follow his lead, Wayne’s not going anywhere.

In fact, it’s as if he’s simply passing the torch.

It’s up to us to keep his fury and outrage and dedication to shining a light on the darkest places and people and misdeeds alive, raging and burning and scorching and illuminating, and to continue digging, digging, digging for the core, the heart, the soul: the truth.

Wayne would want it that way. No, he demands it.

Wayne Barrett, 1945-2017

Reversing Tactics, Donald Trump Will Settle Trump University Lawsuits For $25M

Trump University
President-Elect Donald Trump will settle three lawsuits against Trump University for $25 million.

In a stark reversal, President-Elect Donald Trump has agreed to pay $25 million to settle three lawsuits asserting longstanding fraud allegations against him and his now-defunct Trump University, according to an announcement from New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman late Friday afternoon.

Schneiderman’s office sued Trump, Trump University and its former president, Michael Sexton, in 2013, accusing the billionaire of, among other schemes, scamming more than 6,000 victims out of more than $40 million through bogus courses that promised to teach his real estate investing techniques yet never delivered on its stated promises. Two federal class-action lawsuits filed in San Diego made similar claims. Collectively, the lawsuits created controversy for his presidential candidacy along the campaign trail and ultimately set the stage for the unprecedented predicament of a sitting U.S. president having to face multi-million dollar fraud charges in federal court.

Trump had consistently refuted the merit of the cases and refused to settle, instead doubling down on verbal attacks against the federal judge overseeing the cases, sparking controversy by calling U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel a “hater” at a campaign rally, and his “Mexican heritage” an “absolute conflict” of interest in an interview, due to Trump’s plan to build a wall between the United States and Mexico to keep illegal immigrants out.

Friday’s announcement that the former star of The Apprentice reality TV show is agreeing to pay millions as a settlement, therefore, denotes a remarkable change of course.

“In 2013, my office sued Donald Trump for swindling thousands of innocent Americans out of millions of dollars through a scheme known as Trump University,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “Donald Trump fought us every step of the way, filing baseless charges and fruitless appeals and refusing to settle for even modest amounts of compensation for the victims of his phony university. Today, that all changes. Today’s $25 million settlement agreement is a stunning reversal by Donald Trump and a major victory for the over 6,000 victims of his fraudulent university.

“I am pleased that under the terms of this settlement, every victim will receive restitution and that Donald Trump will pay up to $1 million in penalties to the State of New York for violating state education laws,” he continued. “The victims of Trump University have waited years for today’s result and I am pleased that their patience—and persistence—will be rewarded by this $25 million settlement.”

Between 2005 through 2011, not only did Trump University operate as an unlicensed educational institute, the attorney general’s office had charged, but its advertisements—many featuring Trump himself—made a slew of false claims, among these that the so-called school would use his “handpicked experts” to teach the get-rich real estate techniques, with some students shelling out up to $35,000 for programs that did no such things.

In an August 2013 announcement outlining the filing of his suit against Trump, Schneiderman’s office said an investigation discovered that Trump “did not handpick even a single instructor at these seminars and had little or no role in developing any of the Trump University curricula, or seminar content.” It also revealed that “officials used the name ‘Trump University’ even though they lacked the charter necessary under New York law to call themselves a University. They were also unlicensed under New York State Education Law, evading an array of legal protections designed to protect New Yorkers from fraud.”

At the time, Schneiderman, a Democrat, declared that Trump University’s thousands of victims across the country “got a hard lesson in bait-and-switch.”

“Mr. Trump used his celebrity status and personally appeared in commercials making false promises to convince people to spend tens of thousands of dollars they couldn’t afford for lessons they never got,” he stated. “No one, no matter how rich or popular they are, has a right to scam hard working New Yorkers. Anyone who does should expect to be held accountable.”

Besides, Schneiderman said, Trump University wasn’t even a real university, since it hadn’t received an actual license to operate in the state—duping students even more so, and reinforcing this misconception by use of a university-like seal on related materials and awarding diploma-like certificates of completion emblazoned with The Apprentice star’s autograph.

Trump’s instructors made misrepresentations to get those attending free seminars to enroll in $1,495 three-day seminars, according to his office, and instead of receiving the stipulated instruction, those who signed up were given a list of lenders taken from a magazine—and those promised a personal visit from Trump instead got a photo with a life-sized picture of him.

Rather than the promised services, instructors also used the three-day seminars to pitch $10,000 to $35,000 “Trump Elite mentorship programs,” the AG’s office stated, and were encouraged to contact their credit card companies during breaks to raise their credit limits to supposedly fund real estate deals. Instead, those higher credit limits were requested in order to pay for the “Elite” programs, said the office.

“Many consumers who made the costly investments did not receive the individual mentor attention promised,” Schneiderman’s office stated in 2013. “After an initial three-day session, many mentors failed to return phone calls or emails and provided little to no follow-up assistance. Despite diligent efforts, many consumers were unable to conclude even a single real estate deal and were left worse off than they had been before enrolling in the Trump University programs.

“Some consumers faced thousands of dollars of debt due to the expensive cost of the Elite Programs,” it continued. “Many felt they had been victims of an elaborate scam.”

Trump University also violated federal consumer protection law, it added, by repeatedly failing to honor students’ requests to cancel.

Trump, in June, clarified his comments regarding Judge Curiel, touted positive reviews of Trump University from students—viewable on a website as well, 98percentapproval.com—and vowed to continue to fight the lawsuits.

“It is unfortunate that my comments have been misconstrued as a categorical attack against people of Mexican heritage,” he stated on his campaign website. “I am friends with and employ thousands of people of Mexican and Hispanic descent. The American justice system relies on fair and impartial judges. All judges should be held to that standard. I do not feel that one’s heritage makes them incapable of being impartial, but, based on the rulings that I have received in the Trump University civil case, I feel justified in questioning whether I am receiving a fair trial.”

“While this lawsuit should have been dismissed, it is now scheduled for trial in November,” Trump continued. “I do not intend to comment on this matter any further. With all of the thousands of people who have given the courses such high marks and accolades, we will win this case!”

President-Elect Trump does not admit any wrongdoing in agreeing to the settlement.

Thousands Protest Trump’s Presidential Victory Across U.S.

Donald Trump Protests
Thousands of protestors took to the streets in cities across the country to voice their outrage about Donald Trump's triumphant presidential bid. (Photo: Occupy Seattle Facebook profile)

Thousands of protestors took to the streets in cities across the United States Wednesday to voice their anger, frustration and dismay about President-Elect Donald Trump’s triumphant bid for the White House the night before.

Holding signs declaring “Disband The Electoral College” and “Liberty And Freedom From Hate – No Trump,” among countless other messages, and shouting chants such as “Donald Trump, go away, racist, sexist, anti-gay!” to “Not My President!” mass demonstrations erupted in New York City, Oakland, San Francisco, Chicago, Seattle, Boston, Washington, D.C., and others, continuing into Thursday morning.

News and photos of the protests flooded social media, which also became a outlet for users’ collective outrage, with #NotMyPresident a popular Twitter hashtag.

In New York, thousands gathered in Union Square before marching 40 blocks uptown and converging again outside Trump Tower, the president-elect’s home. Police set up barricades along Fifth Avenue and formed a protective perimeter around the building with a line of sanitation trucks, reportedly at the request of the Secret Service.

Demonstrators also rallied outside Trump Towers in Chicago, in front of the White House, and burned an effigy of the billionaire in downtown Los Angeles.

Police arrested dozens at several gatherings across the country, including more than 60 demonstrators in New York.

Trump won his bid for the presidency following an often vitriolic campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton, the former U.S. Secretary of State, First Lady, and U.S. Senator from New York, claiming perhaps the largest upset in American political history just before 3 a.m. Wednesday morning following a congratulatory phone call from Clinton.

“Now it is time for America to bind the wounds of division,” he told supporters afterwards at his campaign headquarters at the Midtown Hilton in Manhattan. “I pledge to every citizen of our land that I will be president for all Americans, and this is so important to me.”

In an emotional public appearance Wednesday afternoon, Clinton, who won the popular vote but fell short in the electoral vote after Trump surged in several battleground states, conceded to Trump, thanking supporters and calling for national unity.

“We must accept this result and look to the future,” she said. “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and a chance to lead.”

Main Art: Protestors demonstrate against Donald Trump winning the presidential election in Seattle. (Photo: Occupy Seattle official Facebook profile)

NYPD, Long Island Community Mourn Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo of Huntington, Killed In Bronx

NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo Huntington
NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, of Huntington, was killed in the line of duty by an ex-con from Brentwood on Nov. 4, 2016. (Photo: NYPD Facebook profile)

The New York Police Department, fellow officers, local elected officials and countless community members from throughout the region mourned the loss of NYPD Sgt. Paul J. Tuozzolo Saturday, who was gunned down in the line of duty Friday afternoon by an ex-con from Brentwood.

Tuozzolo, 41, a father of two and 19-year police veteran from Huntington, was fatally shot in the head Friday by 35-year-old Manuel Rosales, of Brentwood, while responding to reports of an armed home invasion at the residence of Rosales’ estranged wife in the Bronx, according to police.

Rosales opened fire at approximately 2:45 p.m. Friday following a pursuit by Tuozzolo and other officers after Rosales fled in a red Jeep, police said. A second NYPD sergeant, Emmanuel Kwo, 30, a nine-year veteran of the department, had been shot in the leg by Rosales and was released from Jacobi Medical Center Saturday morning.

NYS Corrections Department records detail multiple felonies throughout the years for Rosales, ranging from criminal possession of stolen property to assault and aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle—with more than a dozen arrests in Suffolk, according to reports. Rosales was killed in a subsequent shootout with police Friday.

An outpouring of support for Tuozzolo and Kwo—who were both based out of the department’s 43rd Precinct—flooded social media Friday night and Saturday, with fellow NYPD officers, brass, elected officials, and countless members of the public sending prayers and well-wishes for the officers and their families. A candlelight vigil is scheduled for Huntington Village Saturday afternoon.

“As we place mourning bands on the shields that sit over our hearts and purple and black bunting hangs on the 43rd Precinct in the Bronx we ask you take a moment to remember Sergeant Paul J. Tuozzolo,” the NYPD posted on Facebook. “Sergeant Tuozzolo was shot and killed as he went into harm’s way to protect the people of NYC, something your NYPD cops do everyday. Please say a prayer for him, for the family he left behind, and join us in our vow to never forget.”

“#NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, 41, was shot and killed today while keeping the people of #NYC safe. Please keep him & his family in your thoughts,” tweeted NYPD Commissioner James P. O’Neill, along with a photo of the slain officer.

“NYC & the NYPD family are in mourning tonight. We’ve lost a good and devoted man, who committed his life to protecting us,” tweeted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who ordered flags to fly at half-staff in honor of Tuozzolo.

“Our hearts go out” to Tuozzolo’s family, Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver said in a statement, calling the Huntington resident “a neighbor as well as a law enforcement brother,” and continuing that his death and the wounding of Kwo “saddens their brother and sister police officers in Nassau County and throughout the nation.

“This incident again illustrates for the public the dangerous duty undertaken by police officers every day,” he added. “It is a sad day for law enforcement.”

Friends and neighbors of Tuozzolo described him as a caring family man devoted to his wife and two young children.

“Great guy, good family man, great person, great neighbor, you know, he was a great guy,” one neighbor, Donny Clark told ABC7. “I know he has two little kids and they are young so, they are going to be traumatized for the rest of their lives, it’s so sad.”

Tuozzolo is the latest NYPD officer to be killed in the line of duty since 33-year-old Det. Randolph A. Holder was fatally shot in the head while pursuing a suspect on Oct. 20, 2015, according to Officer Down Memorial Page, which records law enforcement deaths throughout the country. In May of that year, the department lost 25-year-old Officer Brian Moore, of Massapequa, who was fatally shot in the head while sitting in his unmarked police car in Queens Village. The five-year NYPD veteran’s murder was preceded by the fatal December 2014 ambush of NYPD Officers Wenjian Liu, 32, and Rafael Ramos, 40, while in their patrol car in Bedford-Stuyvesant.

Tuozzolo’s slaying comes during a year that’s witnessed a 78-percent spike in shooting deaths of police and an increase in fatal “ambush-style” attacks—such as a July ambush in Dallas that killed five officers and another 10 days later in Baton Rouge, La. that killed three—according to a mid-year analysis of law enforcement fatalities by the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.

Main Art: NYPD Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, of Huntington, was killed in the line of duty by an ex-con from Brentwood on Nov. 4, 2016. (Photo: NYPD Facebook profile)

Ben Bradlee, Legendary Washington Post Editor, Dead

Ben Bradlee published the Pentagon Papers and the Wodward-Bernstein articles that ultimately forced Nixon's resignation. (Photo by Miguel Ariel Contreras Drake-McLaughlin, Wikimedia Commons)

Benjamin C. Bradlee, the legendary editor of The Washington Post who led its newsroom for 26 years, oversaw the reporting of the Watergate scandal and inspired countless journalists, died Tuesday, according to the newspaper.

He was 93.

Bradlee, forever cemented in the annals of American journalism as the no-nonsense, take-no-prisoners-in-your-pursuit-of-the-truth editor guiding the paper during its reportage and exposing of the Watergate political scandal—which led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon—and Pentagon Papers, is known as one of the most celebrated and revered of the craft, not just for his transformation of the metropolitan daily into one of the most reputable, and formidable newspapers in the world, but for his larger-than-life character, dedication to the finest virtues of the craft and undeniable magnetism that infected and inspired generations of writers, reporters and editors to strive for his emulation.

“From the moment he took over The Post newsroom in 1965, Mr. Bradlee sought to create an important newspaper that would go far beyond the traditional model of a metropolitan daily,” writes The Post. “He achieved that goal by combining compelling news stories based on aggressive reporting with engaging feature pieces of a kind previously associated with the best magazines. His charm and gift for leadership helped him hire and inspire a talented staff and eventually made him the most celebrated newspaper editor of his era.”

Bradlee would lead The Post to 17 Pulitzer Prizes during his tenure, open bureaus across the country, station correspondents around the globe, and found sections of the paper copied by many others, notes The Post.

In 2013 President Barack Obama awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award of the United States.

Journalists and news outlets flooded social media sites with memories and tributes to Bradlee following The Post‘s announcement of his passing.

“Ben Bradlee was the best American newspaper editor of his time and had the greatest impact on his newspaper of any modern editor,” former Washington Post Publisher Don Graham told the newspaper Tuesday.

Just as legendary as Bradlee’s journalistic accomplishments (and his take-no-BS attitude) was the size and openness of his heart–for years taking the time to meet, and share tales and tips, with everyone from aspiring journalism students to veteran muckrakers; even starry-eyed, lowly, bloodthirsty interns.

They carry him with them. His relentless passion, and fury, burn on within their words.

Rest in peace.

Teachout & Wu Sue Cuomo, Hochul & NYSDC, Alleging Election Law Misdeeds

New York State Democratic gubernatorial primary candidate Zephyr Teachout and running mate Tim Wu filed a lawsuit Friday, Sept. 5, 2014, alleging Gov. Andrew Cuomo, his running mate Kathy Hochul and the New York State Democratic Committee violated state Election Law. (Photo courtesy of Teachout/Wu for New York State)

New York State Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout and running mate for lieutenant governor Tim Wu announced the filing of a lawsuit in state Supreme Court Friday, charging, among other allegations, that the New York State Democratic Committee has been illegally funding the re-election campaign of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and his running mate Kathy Hochul.

The lawsuit [READ IT HERE] seeks not only to prohibit additional contributions to Cuomo and Hochul’s campaigns, but an order compelling the two to reimburse the state committee for monies already spent in support of their campaigns prior to the September 9 primary election.

Teachout, a Fordham University law professor, and Wu, a professor of law at Columbia Law School, accuse the NYSDC of violating state Election Law when, “under the direction of, and in coordination with” Cuomo, their petition reads, “it printed and mailed election literature supporting Cuomo and Hochul to hundreds of thousands of Democratic Party members across the state.

“As in-kind contributions to the Cuomo/Hochul campaign ordered by Cuomo himself, these actions are subject to limited First Amendment protections, and the statutes making such expenditures unlawful are justified by the State’s compelling interest in protecting a democratic primary process,” it continues, adding that it’s anticipated in the lead-up to the Sept. 9 primary, “the NYSDC will spend its money to do further advertising for the Cuomo and Hochul campaigns.”

“Based on the facts alleged, facts which cannot credibly be disputed, the coordinated actions of Andrew Cuomo and the NYSDC represent a prima facie violation of Section 2-126 of New York Election Law,” state the court documents.

Teachout and Wu argue the injury caused to their campaigns, as well as fellow Democrats, is “irreparable,” since those mailings helped influence voters and the primary election is just several days away.

Additionally, Team Teachout alleges that by directing the NYSDC to spend “hundreds of thousands, and perhaps millions of dollars” on their campaigns and accepting the aforementioned contributions from the NYSDC, Cuomo and Hochul have and continue to violate contribution and receipt limitations on candidates as dictated by state Election Law.

Teachout and Wu have been touring the state in recent weeks blasting what they called Cuomo’s right-leaning policies and his controversial disbandment of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, which a July 23 New York Times expose alleged his administration meddled with the commission’s probes when investigations came too close to Cuomo or his associates.

They’ve been gaining substantial endorsements recently—among these, the Sierra Club, state chapter of the National Organization for Women and The Nation (The New York Times and New York Observer recently endorsed Wu)—and vow that, if elected, they will once and for all rid Albany of the corruption Cuomo had promised to clean up, but didn’t, and “Old Boys’ Club” dominating Albany.

“We need more women in state politics,” Teachout told the Press during a recent campaign stop at the Southampton Farmers’ Market Sunday, August 24. “Luckily we have women who are representing us federally, but not in Albany. And it’s affecting priorities. I believe it’s affecting education policy. And across the board. You know it’s a broken system when there are no women because it’s not that people don’t support female leaders, it’s that it’s a closed club.”

“Cuomo doesn’t have a lot of women in his decision-making circles,” she added.

Cuomo tried twice, unsuccessfully, to knock Teachout off the ballot, claiming residential requirement violations, and has refused repeated requests from the underdog for a public debate, a concept Cuomo recently slammed as “[not] always a service to democracy.”

“I don’t think it has anything to do with democracy,” Cuomo stated, according to the New York Observer. “I’ve been in many debates that I think were a disservice to democracy—so anyone who says debates are always a service to democracy hasn’t watched all the debates that I’ve been in.”

Cuomo’s bizarre description triggered a barrage of criticism, not just from Teachout, Wu and Cuomo’s Republican opponent Rob Astorino, but The New York Times.

“It’s hard to see how he how could make such a ludicrous argument,” the paper wrote in a September 5 editorial, pointing out that Cuomo opened a 2002 Democratic primary debate with the declaration: “This is what a campaign should be all about—a good, honest discussion on the issues.”

Teachout and Wu hope to obtain a restraining order and/or preliminary injunction to prohibit the NYSDC from further financially supporting Team Cuomo, permanently enjoin NYSDC from expending monies to support primary candidates, attain an order and judgment compelling Cuomo and Hochul to repay the committee for these expenditures, and award attorneys’ fees and costs.

Cuomo’s campaign did not respond to a request for comment as of press time.

Obama Honors Slain Journalist James Foley; Vows Continued Military Action Against ISIS

James Foley, Syria, 2012. The American journalist was beheaded by Islamic militants ISIS in a video posted on YouTube Aug. 19, 2014. (Photo by Manu Brabo, courtesy of FreeJamesFoley.org and "Find James Foley" Facebook page)

President Obama issued a solemn address to the nation Wednesday in the wake of the beheading of American journalist James Foley, praising his life and work and vowing continued military action in Iraq to protect US interests and “extract this cancer” of the Islamic State, the militant group who murdered him.

“Jim was taken from us in an act of violence that shocks the whole world,” said Obama. “We are all heartbroken at their loss and join them in honoring Jim in all that he did.

“Jim Foley’s life stands in stark contrast with his killers,” he continued. “They have rampaged across cities and villages killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture and rape and slavery. They have murdered Muslims—both Sunni and Shia—by the thousands. They target Christians and religious minorities, driving them from their homes, murdering them when they can for no other reason than they practice a different religion. They declared their ambition to commit genocide against an ancient people.”

“ISIL speaks for no religion,” said Obama. “Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day. ISIL has no ideology of any value to human beings. Their ideology is bankrupt… People like this ultimately fail.”

“The United States of America will continue to do what we must do to protect our people. We will be vigilant and we will be relentless,” he added, calling upon other nations to join the fight against the group. “There has to be a common effort to extract this cancer, so that it does not spread.

“One thing we can all agree on is that a group like ISIL has no place in the 21st century.”

Obama’s statements were the first official confirmation of authenticity of a video posted on YouTube Tuesday depicting Foley’s beheading.

The 40-year-old had been missing since Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22, 2012, when the car he was traveling in toward the Turkish border in northern Syria was stopped by four armed men. He had been reporting from the Middle East for the five years prior, and leading up to his disappearance had spent several weeks reporting inside Syria.

Until Tuesday there had been no direct contact with Foley, nor communication with his kidnappers or ransom demand, wrote Phil Balboni, president and CEO of online news outlet GlobalPost, where Foley was a contributor, in a note to staff on the year anniversary of his taking.

Besides the Syrian civil war, the freelance photojournalist from New Hampshire had reported on conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, where he was once held captive for 44 days.

He appeared dressed in orange, on his knees with his hands bound behind his back in the gruesome five-minute video segment titled “A Message To America.” His murderer stood by his side wearing ISIS’ signature all-black cloaks and mask, a holstered gun slung across his shoulder and grasping a large blade.

Following forced anti-American remarks from Foley, his killer made threats against the United States, naming Obama, and then beheaded Foley before grabbing the neck of what the video purported to be Steven Soltoff, a TIME magazine contributor who disappeared in the region earlier this month. Soltoff is also kneeling in the sand, his hands bound. The masked man then warns Obama that his fate rests in Obama’s decision about continuing US airstrikes against the group.

ISIS, short for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria—also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and most recently, the Islamic State—proclaimed the creation of a caliphate, or Islamic state, across parts of western Iraq and northern Syria in June. Its leader, or caliph, is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a militant once in US custody but released.

James Foley, Tripoli (Libya) airport, August 2011. (Photo by Jonathan Pedneault, courtesy of FreeJamesFoley.org and "Find James Foley" Facebook page)
James Foley, Tripoli (Libya) airport, August 2011. (Photo by Jonathan Pedneault, courtesy of FreeJamesFoley.org and “Find James Foley” Facebook page)
American warplanes have been targeting the group and bombing its positions in the region since it began slaughtering religious minorities in the region in the beginning of August. The group has swept into towns and villages demanding its residents convert to Islam, pay a fine, or be killed, according to local religious leaders, Iraqi government officials, humanitarian workers and members of those groups being persecuted—which includes Muslims, Christians and the followers of an ancient religious order called the Yazidis.

Hundreds of thousands have been forced to abandon their homes in the region and tens of thousands had sought refuge on a nearby mountain range, which led to a humanitarian crisis due to extreme heat, the shortage of water and food and medicine and lack of shelter. The United States, Britain and several other countries have been dropping food and water for the past two weeks and arming Kurdish fighters to help repel ISIS.

The Kurds have also successfully escorted tens of thousands to relative safety in makeshift refugee camps. Obama recently ruled out a US-led evacuation of Yazidis still stuck on the mountain, citing an assessment by about 20 US special forces deployed there that those displaced no longer faced an imminent threat. That decision and assessment has been widely criticized, as tens of thousands of Yazidis reportedly still remain in dire straits trapped on the south side of the mountain range.

There have been reports of Christian children being beheaded and mass executions with people being buried alive. ISIS has also reportedly abducted more than 1,000 Yazidi women, according to media reports from the conflict, who are feared to have become sex slaves and made to wed ISIS fighters.

An outpouring of support for Foley and his family and resounding condemnation against his barbaric mutilation continued to flood social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter Wednesday, with the Committee to Protect Journalists’ Chairman Sandra Mims Rowe issuing the following statement:

“The barbaric murder of journalist James Foley, kidnapped in Syria and held almost two years, sickens all decent people. Foley went to Syria to show the plight of the Syrian people, to bear witness to their fight, and in so doing to fight for press freedom. Our hearts go out to his family, who had dedicated themselves to finding and freeing Jim.”

Foley’s mom Diane honored her son in a post on the Facebook page “Find James Foley.”

“We have never been prouder of our son Jim,” she wrote. “He gave his life trying to expose the world to the suffering of the Syrian people. We implore the kidnappers to spare the lives of the remaining hostages. Like Jim, they are innocents. They have no control over American government policy in Iraq, Syria or anywhere in the world.

“We thank Jim for all the joy he gave us,” she added. “He was an extraordinary son, brother, journalist and person. Please respect our privacy in the days ahead as we mourn and cherish Jim.”

Two journalists with Long Island ties have also been victims of the Syrian conflict: Matthew Schrier, a Syosset native and photojournalist, escaped from ISIS rivals Nusa Front last summer after the group kidnapped him and Marie Colvin, an East Norwich native, was killed in 2012 while covering the Syrian civil war for The Sunday Times in London.

James Foley addresses students at Medill in 2011:

James Foley, Missing US Journalist, Reportedly Beheaded By ISIS

American journalist James Foley, Aleppo, Syria – 07/12. Foley was purportedly beheaded by Islamic militants ISIS in a video posted on YouTube Aug. 19, 2014. (Photo Nicole Tung, courtesy of FreeJamesFoley.org and "Find James Foley" Facebook page)

James Foley, an American journalist abducted in northern Syria nearly two years ago, was purportedly beheaded by the Islamic militants ISIS Tuesday, according to graphic photos and video posted across social media outlets depicting the gruesome slaying.

The video shows a man it identifies as Foley kneeling in sand with his hands bound behind his back and a masked militant dressed completely in black who’s wielding a gun and knife standing alongside him. After Foley recites forced anti-American remarks, the militant, who speaks in English with a British accent, threatens the United States and President Obama, according to multiple news outlets, and then beheads Foley.

The militant states in the five-minute “A Message To America” clip that the murder is in retaliation for recent U.S. air strikes against the group, according to news outlets, and warns that another missing journalist it identifies as Steven Soltoff, a TIME contributor who’s been missing since the middle of last year—who also appears on his knees with his hands bound and wearing orange—will meet the same fate unless the strikes stop.

American warplanes have been targeting the group since it began slaughtering religious minorities including Christians and the followers of an ancient religious sect called the Yazidis, forcing hundreds of thousands to abandon their homes in western Iraq and seek refuge on a nearby mountain range. They’ve also abducted more than 1,000 Yazidi women, according to media reports from the conflict, who are feared to have become sex slaves and made to wed ISIS fighters.

ISIS, which stands for the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and is also known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and the Islamic State, proclaimed the creation of a caliphate, or Islamic state, across parts of western Iraq and northern Syria in June. Its leader, or caliph, is the militant Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Foley, now 40, had been traveling toward the Turkish border on Thanksgiving Day, November 22, 2012, following several weeks of reporting inside northern Syria, wrote Phil Balboni, president and CEO of GlobalPost—an online news outlet dedicated to international affairs reporting Foley contributed to—in a note to staff last year on the anniversary of his disappearance. Its contents were republished on the Facebook page “Find James Foley” with his permission.

“The car in which Jim was riding was stopped by four armed men about 10 kilometers from the border near the small town of Taftanaz in an area which even then was the scene of very active conflict between rebel and government forces,” he wrote. “From that day to this we have had no direct contact with Jim and no communication with his kidnappers, nor has any ransom demand been received.”

Foley is the oldest of five children, according to FreeJamesFoley.org, a site created and maintained by his family that has served as an appeal for his unharmed release under the headline “Find James Foley.”

“He has reported independently and objectively from the Middle East for the past five years,” states the site. “Prior to his work as a journalist, Jim helped empower disadvantaged individuals as a teacher and mentor assisting them in improving their lives.”

Foley traveled extensively in the Middle East and North Africa and reported on conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Libya, where he was once held captive for 44 days, reports NBC News, which has a partnership with GlobalPost.

The online news outlet’s Balboni issued the following statement Tuesday night in GlobalPost’s own story about the video:

“On behalf of John and Diane Foley, and also GlobalPost, we deeply appreciate all of the messages of sympathy and support that have poured in since the news of Jim’s possible execution first broke. We have been informed that the FBI is in the process of evaluating the video posted by the Islamic State to determine if it is authentic. … We ask for your prayers for Jim and his family.”

An outpouring of support for Foley and his family and resounding condemnation for his barbaric killing has flooded social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter in its wake.

The latest message from administrators of the “Find James Foley” Facebook page reads a solemn:

“We know that many of you are looking for confirmation or answers. Please be patient until we all have more information, and keep the Foleys in your thoughts and prayers.”

Two journalists with Long Island ties have also been victims of the Syrian conflict: Matthew Schrier, a Syosset native and photojournalist, escaped from ISIS rivals Nusa Front last summer after the group kidnapped him and Marie Colvin, an East Norwich native, was killed in 2012 while covering the Syrian civil war for The Sunday Times in London.

Cops Probe Violent Death of Farmingville Woman

A 36-year-old Farmingville woman discovered dead in her home Sunday was the victim of violence, Suffolk County police said.

Sixth Precinct officers responded to 108 Berkshire Drive in Farmingville following a 911 call Sunday, July 27, 2014 at 3:18 p.m. and found Monica Lino, who lives in the home, dead inside.

Her body was originally discovered by her nephew, police said.

Further investigation revealed “she was a victim of violence,” police said.

The Office of the Suffolk County Medical Examiner is conducting an autopsy to determine the exact cause of death.

Police say the investigation is continuing and ask anyone with information about this incident to call the Homicide Squad at 631-852-6392 or call anonymously to Crime Stoppers at 1-800-220-TIPS.

Islip Town Hall & Quogue School Bomb Threats Share Similarities

Islip Town Hall Bomb Threat
The Long Island Press received the above bomb threat directed against Islip Town Hall via the mail on Tuesday, May 13, 2014. The author's handwriting and other signature characteristics of the note share near-identical details with a prior bomb threat the Press received against Quogue School last year. (Christopher Twarowski/Long Island Press)

The Long Island Press received a bomb threat Tuesday from an anonymous mailer naming Islip Town Hall as their target.

The foreboding message, scrawled in black ink on the inside of an empty white envelope with no return sender, stated in shaky handwriting: “Bomb At Islip Town Hall – Today!!!”

It is postmarked May 12 and was mailed from Mid-Island.

Suffolk County police were notified and officers from the Nassau County Police Department confiscated the ominous note, which bears striking resemblances to a threat made against Quogue Union Free School District that the Press received a little more than a year ago.

That warning, postmarked March 25 and March 26, 2013, also mailed from Mid-Island and written in black ink on the inside of an empty envelope with no return sender, declared: “I Left my bomb At Quogue School on Edgewood Rd.”

A fanged smiley face was scribbled alongside the message.

Quogue Village police, Nassau County police and the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigated that incident. Quogue School, which instructs 120 students from Pre-Kindergarten through Sixth Grade, was searched with the assistance of two New York State Police explosive-detecting K-9s. The school was closed for spring recess at the time and no bomb was found.

Both threats share the same style of squiggly penmanship, with individual letters and words exhibiting exactly the same nuances, suggesting they were written by the same author.

The above bomb threat against Quogue School was mailed to the Long Island Press in March 2013. A similar threat against Islip Town Hall exhibiting similar handwriting and other characteristics was received by the Press May 13, 2014. (Christopher Twarowski/Long Island Press)
The above bomb threat against Quogue School was mailed to the Long Island Press in March 2013. A similar threat against Islip Town Hall exhibiting similar handwriting and other characteristics was received by the Press May 13, 2014. (Christopher Twarowski/Long Island Press)

Suffolk police tell the Press Islip Town Hall was searched, no bomb discovered, and that Nassau police are also investigating. A Nassau detective informed the employee who originally opened the latest letter that the case has been referred to the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Islip Town Hall is no stranger to bomb scares. Four such threats were dialed in from a pay phone in Central Islip between November 2011 and June 2012—one including additional threats against the Suffolk County Department of Social Services in Hauppauge. Another threat was also made against Long Island MacArthur Airport, which is run by the town.

A 41-year-old Central Islip man pleaded guilty in October 2012 to making those four false reports against Islip Town Hall—on Nov. 17, 2011 and Jan. 11, May 23 and June 12—and was sentenced to six months in jail and five years’ probation, according to court records.