In her first appearance in the Capital since announcing her campaign, gubernatorial-hopeful Cynthia Nixon took the opportunity to bash Gov. Andrew Cuomo on “legalized bribery and corruption,” and the values that the “old boys’ club” will be “upholding in [the governor’s] mansion” ahead of the budget vote.
In a half-hour event, co-hosted by the Alliance for Quality Education, Nixon stepped up to the podium ready with criticisms of the governor, branding him as a “wannabe Republican” and a “bully.”
Nixon says she has seen Cuomo “mansplaining” sexual harassment to women and called into question ongoing discussions regarding a bill (S.7176) intended to overhaul the state’s policy on sexual harassment.
“At a time when millions of women are making their voices heard, why should we settle for sexual harassment policies that are being discussed behind closed doors without a single woman present?” Nixon asked. “The governor’s backroom deals have left us with a situation where [Senate Minority Leader] Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the highest elected woman in New York state is not in the room, but the king of the eight-member IDC Jeff Klein — who is accused of sexual misconduct himself — is.”
There have been mixed responses from the offices of Cuomo, Klein and Stewart-Cousins on the attendance at these meetings, with both Klein and Cuomo’s offices saying there has been cooperation between all parties and Stewart-Cousins’ office saying that Senate Democrats have been barred from negotiations.
Klein, along with Cuomo and Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan, make up what Nixon called the “old boys’ club” and who Nixon says “are working more for each other than they are for the people of New York state.”
Nixon also denounced Cuomo’s tendency to “promise big,” and his inability to stop corruption in Albany.
“In 2010 Andrew Cuomo stood on the steps of the Tweed Courthouse in New York City to announce his run for governor on a promise to clean up Albany,” Nixon said. “And I think, as most New Yorkers would tell you, he’s cleaned up Albany about as well as Donald Trump has drained the swamp.”
Citing the shutdown of a Moreland Act Commission seated in 2013 to investigate public corruption while its investigations were still under way, and the recent conviction of Cuomo’s top aide Joe Percoco on charges of wire services fraud and solicitation of bribes, Nixon said Cuomo has failed to meet this promise.
The likening of the governor to the president was met with applause from advocates with the Alliance for Quality Education, who stood alongside Nixon at the front of the room.
“In New York City [Cuomo] puts on an entire Broadway show to parade around as a progressive Democrat leading the resistance,” Nixon said. “But in Albany he is deftly handing over power to the party of Donald Trump.”
Nixon said the system of corruption in New York is allowing Cuomo to make a “backroom deal to put the Trump Republicans in charge of the state Senate” in order to shift blame when he “does not want to deliver on progressive legislation and tax hikes on multi-millionaires.”
This appeal to progressives is one that experts have said may give Nixon an edge over Cuomo in this year’s primary.
Nixon also referenced the source of Cuomo’s campaign contributions saying that “99.9 percent” of donations made to Cuomo are from “large donors, from corporations and the ultra-rich who want to rig our democracy for the few.”
“We have to dismantle this system of legalized bribery in New York,” Nixon said. “Large corporations here can, and do, donate unlimited campaign contributions through the LLC loophole thereby wielding tremendous power and tremendous influence over state policies that benefit them and only them. Increasingly we see a New York where so few have so much and so many have so little.”
Nixon lauded budget proposals from the Assembly majority, praising their values of “fairness and justice” and calling for Cuomo, along with the “Republican-IDC coalition” to embrace the proposals, including a $1.5 billion increase in school aid and a “plan to phase in the full $4.2 billion owed to our schools over the next three years.”
“Cuomo, when he’s speaking about education funding, always talks about the average spending per pupil in New York state being the highest anywhere in the country,” Nixon said. “Our hundred wealthiest school districts spend almost $10,000 per pupil, and they drive up the average, but our hundred poorest school districts are running a deficit of $10,000 per pupil.”
Nixon said Cuomo’s budget does not address students in school districts like those in Poughkeepsie, Yonkers and Ossining, as well as disadvantaged districts throughout the state.
“He bullies other elected officials, he bullies anyone who criticizes him, he even bullies the media with his reference to your small questions,” Nixon said. “But worst of all, his budgets bully our children and our families by shortchanging them and boxing them in by denying them the opportunities they are owed.”