Authors
Chris Bragg

Chris Bragg is the Albany bureau chief at New York Focus. He has done investigative reporting on New York government and politics since 2009, most recently at The Buffalo News and Albany Times Union.

Stay Focused
Sign up for our free newsletter, and we'll make sure you never miss a beat.
New York State Capitol in front of question marks
Senate Democrats Lock Down as Secret Committee Comes to Light

A secret group of Senate Democrats helped decide the fate of nearly 650 bills over the last month. Just don’t ask any questions.

June 6, 2024
A mostly-empty floor of slot machines at Resorts World Catskills, with one gambler sitting off to the side.
Casino Lobbying Fingerprints on Bill to Speed Up Licensing

Legislation to accelerate New York’s casino process copies a lobbying firm’s draft version nearly word for word.

June 5, 2024
New York Governor Kathy Hochul shakes hands with someone in a Buffalo Bills uniform at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey.
Ethics Commission Subpoenaed Hochul Administration Over Bills Box Seats

Asked for records related to top politicians’ use of a Buffalo Bills suite, Empire State Development cited potential interference with a law enforcement investigation.

May 31, 2024
An ornate Senate staircase in New York's Capitol building in Albany
This Secret Senate Committee Decides Whether Bills Live or Die

You haven’t heard of it, and your state senator might not have either. The Working Rules group helps determine the fate of hundreds of bills at the end of each legislative session.

May 30, 2024
Governor Kathy Hochul at Planned Parenthood rally
Judge Strikes Abortion Referendum From November Ballot

New York’s Equal Rights Amendment would enshrine the right to abortion in the state. A judge threw it off the ballot for the fall, but an appeal is expected.

May 7, 2024
Workers set up barriers on a street in New York City.
Last-Minute Budget Change Could Weaken Workers’ Claims to Weekly Pay

Low-wage manual laborers can sue to make their bosses pay them weekly. Hochul’s late-breaking budget addition may undermine that right.

April 18, 2024
Charged With Regulating Conflict of Interests, Ethics Commission Hid Its Own

New York’s transparency watchdog found that the ethics commission violated open records law by redacting its own recusal forms.

April 17, 2024
Governor Kathy Hochul of New York stands behind a podium with a Buffalo Bills logo and her arms spread wide.
Politicians’ Rush for Bills Box Meets Little Ethics Defense

Guidelines limiting gifts of taxpayer resources have “no teeth whatsoever,” according to good government watchdog.

April 4, 2024
A blue car suspended on a post against a blue sky with a sign below reading "PATRIOT AUTO SALES: LETS DEAL TODAY"
Looming Change to Repair Costs Drives Auto Industry Fight

As the state legislature considers a bill to change warranty payments, unions join their bosses to make car companies pay more.

March 29, 2024
New York State Assembly speaker Carl Heastie stands in front of a tile wall with TV microphones.
Lobbyist Dating Carl Heastie Cleared to Return to Assembly — and Ethics Attorney Quits

As the relationship was coming to light, Heastie returned $5,000 in campaign cash to a labor group from which he’d recused himself.

March 26, 2024
New York Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie speaking at a press conference in 2021
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie Has Been Dating a Legislative Lobbyist

While Heastie privately pledged to avoid meetings with relevant interests, lobbyist Rebecca Lamorte has sought to keep representing them before the Assembly, according to her employer’s attorney.

March 14, 2024
Former state budget director Robert Mujica sits at a table with a name card wearing a suit.
Robert Mujica, Former Budget Chief, Advises Hospital Lobby on Budget

The former budget director’s role may break a law meant to keep ex-state employees from monetizing insider knowledge.

February 29, 2024
Greater New York Hospital Association President Kenneth Raske sits at a table and gestures with a pen in front of an American flag.
How the Hospital Lobby Pummeling Hochul’s Budget Brought in a Billion Dollars

While the nonprofit Greater New York Hospital Association lobbied, a lucrative for-profit arm may have run up costs for hospitals.

February 29, 2024
New York Governor Kathy Hochul sits at a large wooden table and signs papers in Albany, New York.
How the Governor Upends Bills Before Signing Them

With chapter amendments, governors can make major changes to pending laws. Kathy Hochul uses them more than any executive before her.

January 17, 2024
How to Dump Dark Money in New York Elections — And Get Away With It

A “ghost entity” linked to Tom Suozzi spent $2 million attacking Kathy Hochul. Then the Board of Elections started an investigation, and it disappeared.

January 8, 2024