Kathy Hochul is an unelected governor who has used and abused her interim powers for political gain. In just a short time, she has amassed a thin track record and left a trail of ethical nightmares that make her unfit for a full term as New York governor.
While she was lieutenant governor, it was unclear what, if any, work she was really doing — even as so many of our state’s metrics declined. While thousands of seniors died in nursing homes, the current governor was nowhere to be found, played no role in relieving pain and saving the lives of New Yorkers when it mattered.
Now the same question applies: What does Kathy Hochul do all day?
Her top priority, after taking the reins from her disgraced boss, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, was not to shore up state solvency or the security of our communities, or to open much-needed jobs in our resource-rich energy reserves. She didn’t even seek responsibility for the nursing home debacle.
Rather, she brazenly uses state planes to hop from campaign fundraiser to campaign fundraiser, ignoring ethical concerns while raising tens of millions of dollars and even hitting on government contractors in an unprecedented pandemic fundraiser.
But that would only be the beginning of a series of ethical misconduct.
Hochul agreed to a $1.4 billion deal for a new Buffalo Bills stadium, including more than $600 million directly from state taxpayers (and $250 million from Erie County). Her husband is General Counsel of a company that will benefit from the stadium’s dining concessions in a sweetheart deal that goes well beyond what is commercially reasonable (the biggest gift ever given to a football facility by a taxpayer). Those millions she diverted to her favorite NFL team could have been used for the greater good at a time of rising costs, rising crime and ongoing recovery from the pandemic.
Then came the pandemic pay-to-play scandal. Hochul signed a no-bid deal with a political donor’s company to buy COVID tests. Digital Gadgets, a company with no experience of such testing, landed the $637 million contract after owner Charlie Tebele threw Hochul a fundraiser — and New York paid twice as much as other states for the same tests. Their campaign even hired Tebele’s son.
Under Hochul, donors get sweet deals and taxpayers are left with the bill.
The Post has documented a number of government contracts and giveaways to donor-related businesses. Out the door, $1.2 billion in tax breaks related to Penn Station’s “clean-up” went to Vornado CEO Steve Roth, who has donated tens of thousands to Hochul’s campaign with his family.
She assists a contractor the FBI is accusing of mishandling the state’s Medicaid transportation program, costing taxpayers up to $195 million in repayments. Russ Maxwell, owner of Medical Answering Services, happens to be a Hochul donor.
Just last week, Hochul was huddling with a billionaire donor who benefits from her generosity to hospital systems. Hochul actually used their budget to save failed hospitals linked to Alexander Rovt who, with his wife, exhausted the donations to them.
If a Republican had the obvious pay-to-play connections for big donors, the mainstream media would be all over it—and all over the people involved. But when Hochul uses and abuses her office to raise more than $45 million for her political future, she escapes scrutiny and accountability.
At the forefront of all these ethical concerns is hochul hypocrisy. During her time in Congress, she took a tougher stance on crime and was courted and received the support of the National Rifle Association. Now she says she’s fully committed to gun control.
And she doesn’t side with the victims of crime, but with the advocates of radical bail reform, making only minor adjustments to the system. She’s absent when it comes to removing Alvin Bragg, the Manhattan “district attorney” who lets criminals out of jail — if they leave at all — and back onto the streets. As a result, homicide rates and violent crime have spiraled out of control here in New York.
There’s a better way – and a better person – to be the next governor of New York.
When I speak to New Yorkers — the wealthy, the middle class, and those struggling to make a living — their biggest concern is violent, runaway crime. That’s why I support Rep. Lee Zeldin, a tough ex-paratrooper with the famous 82nd Airborne, who will fire prosecutors who don’t prosecute violent crimes and are skilled enough to change bail laws and other soft crime measures. It will also enact economic and energy policies that attract and retain people and employers, which should reclaim its identity as an Empire State.
And get this: Zeldin promises “100%” not to meet with any donors who have business before the state. We need a governor who puts the people of New York first, not political gain.
Andrew Stein is a past president of the Democratic New York City Council.