As crime stories plaster the pages of New York State’s major newspapers, the truth is that most of the blame resides in one place: Albany. The swamp on the banks of the Hudson makes the swamp on the Potomac look like Eden. The last two elected governors of New York State were both forced to resign amid possible criminal charges. Recent leaders of the State Senate and State Assembly have been sent to prison directly from their elected posts.
In Albany, theft, kickbacks, and political chicanery are the norm. In 2020, the single-party Democrat crew in Albany afflicted the state with a series of criminal justice reforms that have no basis in sociology or reality. And they hid it from voters in the annual budget, to avoid the responsibility that would come from a voting record. No one wanted their names on it.
And now, to keep these proud traditions alive: Kathy Hochul is up in the polls for governor.
Hochul has declared three states of emergency in her year as governor: one for the COVID Omnicron variant (before a single case was detected in New York), one for monkeypox, and another for the one person who came down with polio. The emergency state allowed the Governor unilateral purchasing power, without the typical bidding and oversight process. And so an entity that donated $300,000 to her campaign received a no-bid contract for covid kits that cost New York’s taxpayers about $637 million – 45% more than what California paid. Note that a higher bid had been offered. Oh – and then she hired the firm-owner’s son as an intern.
Easy to believe. Because by June, despite only being in office less than a year, Hochul was able to raise $34 million in donations for her increasingly close race against Lee Zeldin. People that she or Cuomo had appointed to boards or commissions donated at least $475,000 of that money. This flies in the face of the executive order that Hochul herself signed that prevents these individuals from making campaign donations. Her defense is that these donations were made before she appointed them to their positions. To this writer, that sounds even worse.
Hochul’s personnel decisions have also been plagued by corruption. Her first lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, had one of his campaign donors arrested by the Department of Justice two months after his swearing-in. Benjamin himself barely made it six months before the Feds came knocking on his door with an indictment. He resigned the same day.
And Hochul herself never missed an opportunity to turn her power and contacts into cash. As soon as her US Congressional seat was redistricted out of existence, she took a job as a lobbyist for the M&T Bank, making as much as $250,000 per year. She stayed in that position until she became Cuomo’s running mate. Hochul appears to have only dodged the state’s “revolving door” laws (prohibiting government workers from going directly into lobbying) because she went from a federal job to a state one. But her congressional district covered Buffalo. And M&T Bank is headquartered in? Yup — Buffalo.
Then there is the stadium boondoggle. Even the Democrat cheerleaders at The New York Times have thrown shade at the governor’s privately negotiated deal to give the Buffalo Bills the most generous outlay of public funds for a new football stadium ever. As New York State faces unprecedented financial challenges, the proposed new $1.4 billion stadium relies on $600 million from the state and another $250 million from Erie County. Over the next 30 years, the New York taxpayer will be on the hook for an estimated $1 billion to build and maintain the stadium.
Meanwhile, Hochul’s husband Bill is Senior Vice President and General Counsel of a firm with numerous contracts with the state – including providing all hospitality services for the current stadium. While it is not assured his firm will get the new contract, if past is prologue, it bears watching.
Does she have any core principles? If so, they’re hard to find. In 2007, as Erie County Clerk, she said she would seek to have illegal migrants who apply for a driver’s license arrested. In 2018, she supported giving them licenses, saying that “circumstances changed.”
And when it came time for the 2020 criminal justice reforms, her own home county DA warned her about what would happen with reforms devised without any input from law enforcement. Yet her response to critics was that they were “over-exaggerating the impact and ignoring the fact that for far too long we have had a criminal injustice system.”
As crime did spike across the state, she claimed that “the reforms were successful” even as she began quietly backtracking, by pushing through a couple of cosmetic changes due to mounting criticism. Then she leapt on soft-on-crime Manhattan DA Alvin Bragg when she saw an opening due to this infamous event.
Are there smoking guns here? With a Democratic federal government, in a Democratic state with a Democrat Attorney General – we may never know. There have been no grand juries empaneled, no subpoenas or search warrants dropped, and media response has been lockstep and muted.
If you want to vote for Hochul for Governor of the State of New York, you are, of course, free to do so. In light of the above information, we think there is a pretty good case not to. However, there is something to be said for keeping the tradition alive. The last two elected New York Governors resigned in disgrace. If Hochul is elected, New Yorkers might make it three in a row.