This Week's Headlines: Hurricane Harvey hits Houston
Hurricane Harvey first made landfall in Texas, causing devastating flooding in the region and displacing thousands. Houston, America’s fourth-largest city, was hit with 51.9 inches of rain through late Tuesday, a record for rain in the continental U.S. Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who weathered Superstorm Sandy in 2012, was quick to offer aid to the affected areas. Cuomo sent more than 100 New York National Guard airmen to Texas and Louisiana. On Tuesday, he announced that additional search and rescue aircraft and pilots would be sent to Texas. Meanwhile, members of New York’s congressional delegation grumbled that some Texas lawmakers delayed legislation for Sandy recovery – but they pledged to aid those affected by this crisis nonetheless.
Collins caught in STOCK scandal
The House Committee on Ethics confirmed on Monday that it was investigating Rep. Chris Collins due to his controversial investment in and public promotion of Innate Immunotherapeutics, an Australian biotech company. He is in possible violation of the STOCK Act, which prohibits trading stocks based on insider knowledge of Congress or discussing trades in the House. He was re-elected to the company’s board on Wednesday, a risky move for someone literally under investigation for being too close to a company. But Collins had a foolproof response to digging by The Buffalo News into his relationship with Innate – in a fundraising email to constituents, he took a page from President Donald Trump’s playbook and pegged the paper as “fake news.”
Schneiderman raises the stakes – and his profile
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman will be working with special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager. This could help Mueller with his larger probe into the Trump campaign, providing leverage to force Manafort to cooperate in that investigation, as the president cannot issue pardons for state crimes. It could also help Schneiderman increase his public profile, as the attorney general has been incredibly outspoken in opposition to Trump, and won a settlement in 2016 in his case against Trump University. Cooperating with the special counsel isn’t a bad look for an ambitious attorney general with possible goals for higher office.
Where there’s smoke, there’s higher prices
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation on Monday that restricts the types of stores that sell cigarettes and raised the minimum price of a pack to $13, while adding a 10 percent tax to noncigarette tobacco products, which will go to public housing. The new law prevents pharmacies from selling cigarettes, and cuts the number of retailers licensed to sell them in half. According to the mayor, the goal is to have 160,000 fewer smokers in the city by 2020.