May 8, 2017

Cuomo’s Cynical 2020 Efforts Exposed

This year Governor Andrew Cuomo hasn’t missed an opportunity to use his position to promote his 2020 presidential ambitions. Back in March, Cuomo was blasted by the New York Post for padding “his staff with political hacks” to better prep for 2020. Now the Albany Times-Union has exposed that Cuomo is using the entire New York state government to pay for these clearly political appointees, while “avoiding accusations of expanding their own budgets.”

For example, former Obama aide Joel Wertheimer’s $120,000 salary as Cuomo’s staff secretary is being paid by the Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Even more egregiously, Robert Gibbon’s six figure salary as assistant counsel to the governor for transportation was being paid for by the Justice Center which is “an agency meant to investigate allegations of abuse and neglect at homes for the disabled,” until the Times-Union contacted Cuomo’s office about it.

As the Times-Union documented in their story, there is a long list of aides like these two who are paid by tangential agencies, but in reality work directly for Cuomo. These types of shady hires have also caught the attention of a New York government watchdog group which slammed Cuomo’s lack of transparency concerning who’s paying for these new hires:

“‘If the governor is going to hire people for his political operation, he should be much more transparent and not bury them in corners of state government so as to avoid scrutiny,’ said Dick Dadey, executive director of the government reform group Citizens Union, which is currently in litigation with the Cuomo administration over a 2016 nonprofit lobbying law. [Money spent by these agencies for political purposes is money that’s not spent on the critical business of the state.'”

The other piece of 2020 news concerning Cuomo is that he’s appearing in new “dark money” ads, that are “stirring talk of possible 2020 president run,” according to the New York Daily News. Cuomo and a bunch of celebrities appear in the new ad which target the new administration:

“A new online ad featuring Gov. Cuomo, celebrities and regular New Yorkers takes aim at President Trump’s policies by preaching tolerance and promoting a new state program that offers legal services to immigrants. In addition to the governor, the digital ad, paid for by a group made up of Cuomo allies called New Yorkers United Together, features actors Whoopi Goldberg, John Leguizamo, Steve Buscemi, Harvey Fierstein and Edie Falco.”

Interestingly, Cuomo has called Citizens United “disastrous,” and decried the fact that it “unleashed a torrent of dark money.” Yet, the group paying for these ads boosting Cuomo, New Yorkers United Together, is a 501(c)(3) and doesn’t have to release its donors. Luckily for Cuomo, he’s never met an issue he couldn’t flip-flop on if it benefits him politically.

It’s no secret Andrew Cuomo is more interested in being president than governor of New York. That’s no excuse for using Empire State taxpayers – who are already squeezed thanks to Cuomo’s pro tax-policies – to foot the bill.