ALBANY, N.Y. — Andrew Cuomo may be running for a third term as governor this year, but he’s become a big factor in the race for New York attorney general, with candidate Zephyr Teachout saying Monday that if elected she will investigate whether the Democratic governor has used state resources for campaign purposes.
Teachout told reporters at the state Capitol that whoever the voters pick to be attorney general must be independent enough to investigate the state’s chief executive. The comment was a critique of New York City Public Advocate Tish James, who was endorsed by Cuomo and who has campaigned with him this year.
“I’m independent of the political bosses and independent of Andrew Cuomo,” said Teachout, a Fordham University law professor who mounted an unsuccessful primary challenge to Cuomo in 2014.
James’ campaign insisted their candidate would aggressively investigate all levels of government corruption - though it stopped short of mentioning Cuomo by name.
“Tish James has never shied away from going after bad actors, from unscrupulous landlords to corrupt elected officials,” said campaign spokeswoman Delaney Kempner. “… As attorney general, she will use every tool at her disposal to hold public officials - from staff members to legislators and beyond - accountable.”
In regard to Cuomo, Teachout cited concerns about his extensive use of state helicopters, recently documented by The New York Times, as well as former top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco’s use of state offices and resources after he had left his job to lead Cuomo’s 2014 re-election bid. Percoco was later convicted on unrelated corruption charges.
She also has questions about Cuomo’s decision to speed up the opening of the second span of the Gov. Mario M. Cuomo Bridge. Cuomo held a grand opening ceremony for the bridge on Friday but was forced to close the span to traffic on Saturday after crews disassembling the nearby old Tappan Zee Bridge discovered that it had destabilized and could fall, potentially hitting the new span. Critics accused Cuomo of rushing the opening to score political points in his primary matchup with activist and former “Sex and the City” star Cynthia Nixon.
A poll released Monday shows Thursday’s Democratic primary is effectively a dead heat between Teachout, James and Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney. Leecia Eve will also be on the ballot.
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