Teachout and Astorino blast Cuomo for killing anti-corruption panel
BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | In an unusual move of candidate bipartisanship, Zephyr Teachout and Rob Astorino held a joint press conference in front of the Tweed Courthouse on Chambers St. on Tuesday morning to bash the incumbent, Governor Cuomo, for what they called his corruption.
“I am here today with a man I disagree with on almost everything because recent events show that Governor Andrew Cuomo has not merely failed to clean up Albany,” said Teachout, who is running as a Democrat. “He has become part of the problem, and an example of the very thing he once ran to clean up.
“Last year, Governor Andrew Cuomo set up a Moreland Commission to investigate corruption, and then shut it down, after attempting to influence the terms of its conclusions, and the focus of its investigation.
“Shutting down your own anti-corruption commission when it gets too close to power is something that would make Boss Tweed blush,” Teachout declared.
“Federal Prosecutor Preet Bharrara is now subpoenaing records of e-mails between members of the Moreland Commission and Governor Cuomo and top aides. And there is new evidence that the pattern of good old boy secretive government and protecting powerful friends goes back farther than four years.”
Teachout, a charismatic Fordham law school professor, previously worked on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign, but has never run for political office before. She said she wants to challenge Cuomo to three debates — on education, immigration and hydrofracking.
“But all three would end up in a debate about corruption,” she quickly added.
Meanwhile, Astorino said he wants to do eight debates with Cuomo, each in a different part of the state.
As the press conference ended, one woman in the crowd shouted out, “Anyone but Cuomo!” while another countered, “Go back to Vermont,” referring to Teachout, who only moved to New York five years ago.
The next day, the headline of the lead article on Page 1 of The New York Times blared, “Governor’s Office Hobbled Corruption Investigations,” with the subhead: “Promised Free Rein, Panel Found Groups Linked to Cuomo Were Off Limits.”
The Times article, which followed a 20-month investigation by the newspaper, said the panel had been “deeply compromised.”
However, Cuomo’s office responded to the Times, “A commission appointed by and staffed by the executive cannot investigate the executive. It is a pure conflict of interest and would not pass the laugh test.”
“Huge!” the Teachout campaign declared of the Times article in a press release, with Teachout calling on Cuomo to promptly resign
Teachout filed more than 40,000 petition signatures to get on the ballot. Only 15,000 are required, but her signatures are being challenged by two individuals. The attorney doing the work on the challenge is former state Senator Martin Connor, known as being one of the top election lawyers, with a reputation for knocking candidates off the ballot.
Allen Roskoff, president of the Jim Owles Liberal Democratic Club, which endorsed Teachout, said not to underestimate Connor and the petition challenge, but that Teachout is probably safe.
“The general rule is 3-to-1,” he said, referring to getting triple the amount of required signatures to provide a cushion. “I give it credibility because they have Marty Connor looking at it. It’s hard to knock someone off who’s got 3-to-1.”
Teachout has also been endorsed by Village Independent Democrats and Coalition for a District Alternative, two other Downtown Manhattan progressive political clubs.