Aubertine Nomination Now Moving
Darrel Aubertine's three-month-old nomination to be state Agriculture Commissioner is finally moving, two days after Majority Leader Dean Skelos was asked point blank if Aubertine's former foe, Patty Ritchie, was intentionally keeping her thumb on it.
Aubertine's nomination, announced Jan. 6, had to go through Ritchie's Agriculture Committee before it could come to the Senate floor for a vote. The governor requested action on his nomination of Aubertine in February, according to a Democratic source.
Despite that alleged request, Ritchie did not schedule that confirmation vote until now. It will be held Tuesday in her committee.
Jim Reagen, her spokesman, said the senator's focus has been on the budget and restoring needed funds to agriculture programs. Ritchie's committee has met multiple times since Aubertine's nomination was announced, during which they considered several bills unrelated to the budget.
Susan Arbetter, host of The Capitol Pressroom, asked Skelos if potential "squabbling" between Ritchie and Aubertine - perhaps a remnant of last fall's hotly contested election - was delaying the nomination.
"I don't believe there's squabbling going on," the majority leader said.
"So you don't think that's what's holding it up?" the host asked.
"No," Skelos replied.
Reagen said the delay was not politically motivated, arguing that there was no political gain to any delay. Ritchie and Aubertine met Thursday to discuss ag issues in her Albany office and then posed for a photo together.
"The election was six months ago," said Reagen. "Everyone has moved on."
Saturday, March 8, 2014, Watertown, NY