Suozzi calls for investigation into Governor Hochul’s use of state jets

Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi has called for an investigation into whether Governor Kathy Hochul abused state planes to promote her campaign to retain the executive branch seat.

Suozzi, who is challenging Hochul in a Democratic primary for governor, said Thursday that Hochul should agree to state Attorney General Letitia James conducting an investigation into Air Hochul’s travel.

“If she truly believes in openness and transparency, ask the governor to refer the matter to the attorney general to investigate and determine if any ethics laws were violated,” said Suozzi, a former county executive. of Nassau, during a press conference held via Zoom.

Suozzi’s campaign also released a video during the press briefing and on Twitter showing a clip of Hochul pledging open and clean government after replacing the ex-governor. Andrew Cuomo, who was forced to resign last August amid a sexual harassment scandal.

The video then shows a helicopter and a dizzying zigzag of travel across the state, 45 on a helicopter or state plane over 45 days. Campaign events were sprinkled.

Governor Kathy Hochul has held about 64 campaign events so far during her tenure as governor.
Lev Radin/Pacific Press via ZUMA Press Wire

Suozzi’s attack on travel was sparked by reports in the Albany Times Union last week that questioned the legality of the governor’s use of planes for some campaign events. Some 64 campaign events took place during Hochul’s first 45 days in office.

“Let’s have a refund to taxpayers for inappropriate travel,” Suozzi said.

Long Island Representative Tom Suozzi
Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi plans to challenge Governor Kathy Hochul in this year’s gubernatorial contest.
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Sipa USA

Hochul’s office said she reimbursed the state $19,949.84 for “mixed-use” trips that included campaign trips or private events last October 19, 24 and 4.

Beginning in December, Hochul appointed a new associate attorney who oversees ethics, Pei Pei Cheng de-Castro, to review whether the use of planes is within ethics guidelines.

Other mixed-use flights are under review, according to the governor’s office.

“Governor Hochul is committed to transparency, accountability and the highest ethical standards,” Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crampton-Hays said.

“The new Assistant Governor’s Board that oversees ethics is conducting a thorough review of all aircraft usage and necessary refunds identified so far have been made, and we are creating additional controls and processes to better ensure compliance. abiding by the strictest ethical guidelines.

Hochul also reimburses all mileage for state cars related to political activity and charters planes for political activity, his office said.

New York Attorney General Letitia James
Long Island Rep. Tom Suozzi recommends state Attorney General Letitia James dig into Governor Kathy Hochul’s campaign finances.
AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

Attacking governors for using official aircraft is an age-old practice in the Empire State.

During the 1994 gubernatorial campaign, Republican George Pataki attacked Democratic incumbent Mario Cuomo’s use of state aircraft, which he sarcastically referred to as “Air Cuomo”.

But Suozzi’s own maneuvers have raised eyebrows among government watchdogs.

Former Governor George Pataki
Former Governor George Pataki was known for criticizing the then Governor. Mario Cuomo for abusing state air assets.
James Messerschmidt

Last year, the Post reported that Suozzi used money from his campaign account to pay himself $37,860 in rent for a condominium office unit he owns in a building in Glen Cove.

Critics said it was reminiscent of how former President Donald Trump generously charged his campaign to rent office space in Trump Tower, which he owns. The Suozzi campaign said it was paying fair rent to Suozzi.

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