Gov. Kathy Hochul to oust more leftover Andrew Cuomo staffers

Gov. Kathy Hochul speaks with reporters Wednesday in the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. Courtesy of Gov. Kathy Hochul's Office

NEW YORK — Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo attempted to kick Gov. Kathy Hochul off the ticket as his running mate in multiple previous gubernatorial elections, she said Wednesday, before hinting other remaining staffers from his administration will be pushed out in the coming days.

Cuomo’s former top aides called Hochul in January to warn her she would not be on the 2022 ticket, as first reported in the New York Post. The former governor who resigned in disgrace also attempted to kick Hochul out at the end of 2014 and 2018, she said Wednesday at an unrelated press conference.

“It’s an open secret that we were not close,” she said to reporters in the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City. “This was attempted at the end of 2014 and in 2018... but I’m still standing. I believe I have the right to represent the people who put their faith in me and I plan to continue to.”

Hochul was asked about her relationship with Cuomo after announcing an allocation of $25 million in state resources to 872 organizations to bolster security and to create an online reporting system for hate crimes, which have continued to increase around the state and nation over the last several years.

The digital system would alert officials when and where an alleged hate crime took place to hasten response time and fight incidents of hate against Jewish, Black, Asian and other minority communities.

“My objective is to catch the perpetrators and make an example of them so we can finally let people live, walk the streets, worship where they want without the fear, Hochul said, quoting former President and Gov. Franklin D. Roosevelt. “Freedom from fear is what pepole in this state are entitled to and that’s what I intend to fight for.”

Hochul did not call for Cuomo’s resignation as he became embroiled in a slew of scandals.

“I think everybody understood as the next in line, it would look somewhat self-serving, but I said I want a full investigation and I will stand with the results of that investigation, and that’s exactly what I did,” she said.

Hochul, who took office Aug. 24, asked for 45 days to evaluate the staffers and employees remaining from Cuomo’s administration and build her cabinet within the Executive Chamber.

Wednesday marked Hochul’s 44th day as the 57th governor of New York. She has announced several appointments to her administration over the last six weeks, including a new Health Department commissioner to replace Dr. Howard Zucker on Dec. 1, new chair to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics on Monday, Kathryn Garcia as director of state operations, Neysa Alsina as the state’s special advisor on pandemic relief, in addition to several counsel, director, advisory, secretarial and communications appointments.

“Tomorrow I will have some announcements, but they have been rolling out,” Hochul said of additional state employees who will be removed. “There will be some people who stay and some who don’t. There won’t be one big wave of thousands of names [Thursday].”

Hochul has repeatedly said any person named in state Attorney General Letitia James’s report Aug. 3 confirming Gov. Cuomo sexually harassed or engaged in sexual misconduct with multiple women would not remain in her administration.

“You’ve seen a number of places we’ve made decisions to bring in new blood,” she added. “As a new governor, I’m entitled to have individuals that I believe will best serve the people of New York.

The governor and her staffers have also said the review period will continue beyond the 45-day mark.

Hochul dismissed questions about potential gubernatorial challengers entering the 2022 race for the third day in a row Wednesday.

“People are going to do what they want,” Hochul said. “I’ve been in 13 elections. There’s always people talking about running. Some do, some don’t. With an exception of when I lost a seat in Congress by 1.5% because I stood for the Affordable Care Act, I have a pretty good record. I’ve won statewide twice, but I want everyone to know, that is not on my mind.”

Hochul noted she has started work on the 2022 State of the State and the 2022-23 budget, which deadlines April 1, but said protecting New Yorkers from a COVID-19 resurgence, considering additional regulations and fighting to rebuild the state’s economic in the wake of the pandemic are her top priorities.

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