|Member of the New York Senate|
from the 9th district
Assumed office |
May 3, 2016
|Preceded by||Dean Skelos|
|Member of the New York State Assembly|
from the 20th district
January 1, 2015 – May 3, 2016
|Preceded by||Harvey Weisenberg|
|Succeeded by||Melissa L. Miller|
|Born||Lido Beach, New York|
|Residence||Long Beach, New York|
New York University|
University of Michigan
Todd Kaminsky is an American attorney and politician from the state of New York. A Democrat, he is a member of the New York State Senate representing the ninth district, which is based on the south shore of Long Island.
Early life and career
Kaminsky was born and raised in Long Beach, New York on Long Island. He received his bachelor's degree, summa cum laude, from the University of Michigan, and his law degree, magna cum laude, from New York University Law School.
Kaminsky worked as an assistant district attorney in the Queens County District Attorney's Office, prosecuting domestic violence cases, robberies, shootings and other violent crimes. He then joined the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Eastern District of New York as an Assistant United States Attorney, where he worked for six years. There he became acting deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section, successfully prosecuting elected officials including State Senate Majority Leader Pedro Espada Jr., Assemblyman Jimmy Meng, and U.S. Representative Michael Grimm. Giving his closing remarks in the Espada, Jr. case, the New York Times wrote, "Pacing before the jury and cuing up slides on a computer presentation, Mr. Kaminsky often brought the jury and others in the courtroom to laughter, throwing out one-liners and making fun of Mr. Espada’s excuses for spending the money." Kaminsky also successfully prosecuted former music mogul and drug dealer James "Jimmy Henchman" Rosemond, securing an indictment after Rosemond was captured by DEA agents after remaining a fugitive for a month. For that prosecution, Kaminsky was awarded the True American Hero Award from the Federal Drug Agents Foundation.
As a community advocate, Kaminsky raised funds and held free legal clinics following Hurricane Sandy. For his efforts, he was awarded the Community Service Award from the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of New York and the Long Beach Martin Luther King Center’s Sandy Relief Service Award.
Kaminsky was elected to the New York State Assembly in November 2014, succeeding Harvey Weisenberg. As New York Magazine noted in a profile, "The rookie assemblyman has already delivered some tangible results for his district — speeding up the state’s reimbursement schedule for Sandy housing reconstruction, and pushing to open a new emergency room to compensate slightly for the storm-induced closure of Long Beach Hospital." In 2015, Kaminsky was named one of City & State's 40 Under 40 Rising Stars. In his first legislative session, Kaminsky set a record for recent years for most bills passed by a first-year Assemblymember, and tied him at fourth overall in the Assembly this session with 18 of his bills passing the Assembly and 16 of those also passing the Senate.
Following the expulsion of Dean Skelos from the New York State Senate, the Democratic Party selected Kaminsky as their nominee for his seat in the special election in April 2016. On May 2, two weeks after the election took place, Kaminsky was officially declared the winner after defeating Republican challenger Chris McGrath by 886 votes. He was then sworn in the next day. Kaminsky and McGrath faced off again in the November 2016 general election—this time for a full term. Kaminsky won that election by 6,422 votes, or approximately 5% of the electorate.
Kaminsky's experience as a former federal prosecutor lead to him becoming a leader on ethics reform in New York State politics and at the forefront of decision-making around recent corruption scandals. As The Wall Street Journal wrote, "The confluence of federal prosecutors’ heightened interest in Albany and Mr. Kaminsky’s background has also vaulted him to prominence as Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Legislature have grappled with whether and how to institute another package of ethics overhauls, which also happens to be the freshman lawmaker’s legislative priority." Kaminsky was appointed by Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie to a panel charged with finding an executive director for the Assembly's new ethics office. Kaminsky also played a role in helping put together the ethics reform package that was proposed in March by the Assembly and Governor Cuomo.
Kaminsky considers Hurricane Sandy one of the reasons for his decision to run for Assembly. Sandy hit the South Shore of Long Island particularly hard, destroying thousands of homes and other property. Like many residents in the area, Kaminsky was unsatisfied with the response from FEMA and NY Rising. Since being elected, Kaminsky has pushed for reforms to the NY Rising system, licensing for mold removal companies, and helped implement an information-sharing database in Nassau County to help better track abandoned properties. Kaminsky also introduced a bill passed by the Legislature that would require quarterly reporting on unpaid claims and unresolved Sandy-related cases. Another bill Kaminsky introduced, which would provide tax relief for victims of Hurricane Sandy who withdrew from retirement accounts to cover emergency payments, passed the Assembly.
Upon hearing that National Grid was going to reinstate fees for disconnecting and reconnecting gas lines – fees that had been eliminated after Sandy to provide some relief to homeowners affected – Kaminsky wrote a letter to National Grid on August 21 urging them to reverse the decision. On September 10, after weeks of talks, National Grid announced that it would continue its post-Sandy policy of not charging those fees, in a major victory for Sandy victims.
Long Beach Medical Center
Damage from Hurricane Sandy was so extensive that the Long Beach Medical Center had to be permanently closed. Kaminsky lead the push to call on South Nassau Community Hospital, the new owner, to reopen a full-service hospital in the former hospital's place. In early August, Kaminsky announced that New York State had given approval for a 24/7 freestanding emergency department to open. The emergency department opened on August 10, 2015.
Todd and his wife Ellen, married since 2010, live in Long Beach with their children, Rafe and Rory.
Kaminsky is the great-nephew of entertainer Mel Brooks. During Kaminsky's 2016 run for a seat in the New York State Senate the famed comedian recorded a robocall which was then employed by his nephew's campaign.
- Orden, Erica (March 25, 2015). "Freshman N.Y. Assemblyman Todd Kaminsky, a Former Prosecutor, Has Peers on Guard". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Ex-Queens Assemblyman Sentenced in Bribery Case". The New York Times. March 13, 2013. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Fraud Trial for Espada Is Concluding After 6 Weeks". The New York Times. April 25, 2012. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Hip Hop Manager Arrested After Month as Fugitive". WSJ. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Tupac shooting 'suspect' gets life for drug ring". New York Post. October 25, 2013. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Kaminsky Prosecuted Albany Pols; Now He Is One". Daily Intelligencer. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on August 11, 2015. Retrieved July 14, 2015.
- "Assembly Republicans remain on margins under Heastie". Capitalnewyork.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Democrats Pick Ex-Prosecutor to Seek SEnate Seat Left Vacant by Skelos". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
- "Democrats Take Over NY Senate as Skelos' Successor Certified". NBC New York. 2016-05-02. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
- "Kaminsky sworn-in, replaces convicted Skelos". Newsday. 2016-05-03. Retrieved 2016-05-07.
- Erica Orden (January 30, 2015). "Newer Legislators Led Charge to Oust Speaker Silver in New York Assembly". WSJ. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Heastie Names Search Committee For Ethics Officer". Nystateofpolitics.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "A Prosecutor Turned Assemblyman". WNYC. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "In Ethics Push, Cuomo Strays From His Formula". The New York Times. March 19, 2015. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Lawmaker brings prosecutorial perspective to Assembly". Capitalnewyork/com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Legislators call for NY Rising oversight". liherald.com. Nassau County. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Bills". Assembly.state.ny.us. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Kaminsky announces 'zombie home' database and cleanup plan". Long Island Herald. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- Yancey Roy. "Legislature OKs bill requiring reporting on unresolved Sandy cases". Newsday. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Kaminsky Bill to Reduce Sandy Victims' Income Tax Burden Passes Assembly". LongIsland.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "National Grid agrees to roll back fees - Island Park - LIHerald.com - Nassau County's source for local news, breaking news, sports, entertainment & shopping". liherald.com. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- JOHN ASBURY. "Long Beach residents want FEMA medical funds to stay in city". Newsday. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- Ridgely Ochs. "Todd Kaminsky: Freestadning emergency department at Long Beach approved by state - Newsday". Newsday. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- RIDGELY OCHS. "Post-Sandy emergency medical facility opens in Long Beach". Newsday. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- Dan Janison. "20th A.D.: Mel Brooks robo-calls for Kaminsky, his relative". Newsday. Retrieved December 23, 2015.
- "Mel Brooks robocall for great nephew in state senate race". New York Daily News. Retrieved 2016-05-07.