Bill Cunningham Out, Officially

ALBANY—The other shoe has dropped.

Bill Cunningham, secretary to the governor, announced his resignation and will be replaced by Larry Schwartz. The move was not unexpected.

This is another move in a shakeup advised by Charles O’Byrne. (The official line is that Paterson accepted Cunningham’s resignation “with regret.”) Paterson has also replaced his political consulting team and made official the appointment of Peter Kauffmann as director of communications. Many legislators and Capitol observers expected Schwartz’s rise, with one telling me yesterday he saw him as the go-to guy on the second floor.

Cunningham was present earlier today at two events with the governor, even as Paterson hinted that the change would finally come. “I think that in short order I will clear all that up for you,” Paterson said when asked after the swearing-in ceremony of Jonathan Lippman.

Here’s a full release from the governor’s office:

Today Governor Paterson accepted with regret the resignation of Secretary to the Governor William J. Cunningham, III and thanked him for his commitment and service to the people of the State of New York. Governor Paterson has appointed First Deputy Secretary Lawrence S. Schwartz to serve as Secretary to the Governor. Governor Paterson also appointed Peter Kauffmann to serve as Communications Director.

“Bill Cunningham has had an enviable career in public service, as an Assistant U.S. Attorney, Chief Deputy County Executive to Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi, and as a senior advisor in my administration,” said Governor Paterson. “On behalf of the people of New York, I want to thank Bill for his leadership and his unique concern for the welfare of New Yorkers, but on a more personal note I am also grateful to Bill for his friendship, integrity, intelligence and the consummate professionalism he has displayed during this fiscal downturn.”

Mr. Cunningham’s resignation will be effective today, February 25, 2009, but he will continue serving as a senior advisor during a transition period.

Mr. Schwartz, who will begin immediately in his new role, formerly served as Deputy County Executive for Westchester County, a position he has held since 1998. In that time, he acted as chief operating officer for County Executive Andrew Spano, overseeing the daily operations of Westchester County government. Mr. Schwartz played a critical role in the development and approval of the $1.7 billion annual operating budget, as well as all of the County Executive’s intergovernmental operations. He also aided in the financial rescue and recovery of the Westchester Medical Center.

“Larry Schwartz is a skilled and capable leader who understands the inner workings of government, but he also recognizes how public officials must serve everyday New Yorkers,” said Governor Paterson. “I am pleased to welcome Larry into his new role as we continue our work to address the greatest fiscal crisis New York has experienced since the Great Depression.”

Prior to his career with the Westchester County Executive, Mr. Schwartz worked from 1993-1997 as Senior Vice President for the consulting firm M&R Strategic Services.

From 1988-1991, he served as Deputy County Executive for Suffolk County, under County Executive Patrick Halpin. Mr. Schwartz was instrumental in the passage of the $100 million Suffolk Clean Drinking referendum campaign, as well as the Long Island Maritime Reserve, the fourth such reserve to be created in the State. He has also worked in the Capitol, serving from 1982-1987 as Director of Conference Operations for Senate Minority Leader Manfred Ohrenstein.

Mr. Schwartz is a member of the New York State Commission on State Asset Maximization, a member of the Westchester County Industrial Development Agency, and served from 1989-1991as a board member of the New York State Association of Counties.

Mr. Schwartz graduated from the State University of New York at Binghamton, where he received a Bachelor of Science in Political Science. He lives in White Plains with his wife Susan Hessney, and daughter Carly.

As Secretary to the Governor, Mr. Schwartz’s salary will be $178,000. This appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Governor Paterson also announced the appointment of Peter Kauffmann as Communications Director.

“I’m pleased to welcome such a talented communications professional as Peter Kauffman into my administration,” said Governor Paterson. “Not only is he a proven strategist in the public relations field, Mr. Kaufman has served with distinction as an officer in the U.S. Navy. He brings a broad global perspective and a strong track record in government, including service as Press Secretary to Senator Hillary Clinton.”

Peter Kauffmann is currently a Vice President at The Glover Park Group, specializing in public affairs and the management of integrated campaigns. While at GPG, Mr. Kauffmann has focused mainly on strategic and crisis communications work for corporate and political clients.

Mr. Kauffmann comes from GPG with an extensive background in both public affairs and public service. Most recently, he served as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Navy. Mr. Kauffmann deployed twice aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln where he managed all intelligence collection requirements for the carrier strike group. In January 2005, he earned the Navy Achievement Medal for his work during tsunami relief operations in Indonesia. At the Joint Intelligence Center-Pacific, he served as a geopolitical analyst with a focus on the Pacific Rim region. He completed his five-year Navy service with the rank of Lieutenant.

Before serving in the military, Mr. Kauffmann was Press Secretary for Senator Hillary Clinton. In the 2000 election cycle, he was Press Secretary for the 2000 New York State Coordinated Campaign and directed the Democratic Party’s rapid response operation. Mr. Kauffmann has also served as a Deputy Press Secretary at the Democratic National Committee.

Mr. Kauffmann graduated from Franklin & Marshall College where he was a Presidential Scholar. He is a Fellow at the Truman National Security Project and was a member of the Hillary Clinton for President Veterans Steering Committee.

Mr. Kauffmann will begin on March 23, 2009, and receive an annual salary of $175,000. This appointment does not require Senate confirmation.

Bill Cunningham Out, Officially