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Albany Reform

Anti-Pricing Lawmakers Dismayed by Potential Backlash

State legislators who opposed congestion pricing are shocked -- shocked! -- that the New York League of Conservation Voters may hold them accountable for their positions on one of the most important environmental initiatives in recent history.

The Times reports that about a dozen lawmakers, including Bronx Assemblyman Jeffrey Dinowitz, are refusing to complete the NYLCV's candidate questionnaire, and have notified the league preemptively to say they don't want its endorsement.

What has irked some lawmakers is what they saw as a threat in the cover letter accompanying the questionnaire. In the letter, the league said it would use its new political action committee, Climate Action, to support candidates who advanced the group's agenda. Some legislators said they viewed that as a veiled warning that the league would use the money it raised through its committee to defeat candidates who opposed Mayor Bloomberg, above, and his congestion pricing plan.

The league or its political action committee "has the right to contribute to any candidate it wants," wrote Jeffrey Dinowitz, a Democratic assemblyman from the Bronx, "but I am deeply troubled by the very clear implication that a candidate will be rewarded or punished based upon a legislator casting a specific vote the way you would want it cast."

Yes, assemblyman, an interest group basing its support on a candidate's record is indeed troubling. Oh, wait ... 

For the league's part, NYLCV Chair Charles S. Warren says lawmaker positions on congestion pricing will not be a "litmus test," but adds, "we’re going to look for concrete accomplishments in furthering the environmental agenda.”

Mr. Warren, who said he did not know how many legislators had respondedto the league’s questionnaire, added that the league was dissatisfiedwith the Legislature’s environmental record lately. “There’s afrustration on our part and on the part of a lot of other environmentalorganizations,” he said.

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