Andrew Cuomo’s Staff Worked On Polls, May Have Influenced It

( New York Governor Andrew Cuomo continues to find himself in hot water over new accusations. This time, it’s a case of staffers who worked for Cuomo also mixing political and private activities.

The Times Union in Florida recently obtained emails that show Melissa DeRosa, one of Cuomo’s top aides, worked on campaign polling in 2019 during the early morning and afternoon hours while at work for the government of New York. She also allegedly instructed some of her lower-level staffers to perform certain tasks that were related to that poll.

The work in question was done for Global Strategy Group. DeRosa worked on editing a poll the firm was conducting on August 13, 2019, according to the emails. Cuomo’s political campaign is a client of that firm, but the poll in question here was conducted for Jobs of New York, a “super PAC” that’s funded by billionaire landlords in New York City.

Even though this was a private matter, then, DeRosa and Cuomo both reviewed and then edited the poll that was being done for Jobs for New York.

The problem here is that it’s against New York state law to use any government resource for the personal benefit of a politician. In 1992, the state Ethics Commission issued an opinion saying campaigns have to be run on a person’s own time.

In addition, no state resources of any kind “including telephones, office supplies, postage, photocopying machines or support staff assistance” are allowed to be used to further the campaign.

That means that in this case, Cuomo’s staffers were violating this ethics law. They were doing work for an outside super PAC that was using the same pollster that Cuomo’s campaign was.

Like always, Cuomo is trying to downplay the actions here. One of his senior advisors, Richard Azzopardi, said:

“[It is] appropriate and permissible to coordinate and actively work with outside entities on policy issues, messaging and to gauge public sentiment.

“The governor was not on the ballot in 2019. Monitoring how the public perceives and is reacting to legislative actions and priorities is part of the government-focused operation and doesn’t need to be done on private time.”

This particular poll was conducted a few months after the 2019 legislative session ended. That session saw Democrats in the state Senate, who had just gained a majority in the chamber, pass various progressive legislation.

Jobs for New York had supported GOP candidates before that election, but once they lost, they switched to lobbying Democrats. Their focus was on Democrats who were friendly to landlords in the city.

The poll was asking voters what their reactions were to a number of different policies the Senate passed in 2019. They were apparently trying to see whether any lawmakers would be potentially vulnerable on specific issues that were important to them.

The emails the Times Union obtained, though, also show that DeRosa was gauging interest in whether New York voters would potentially support primary challenges. In one instance, she wrote to two officials from Global Strategy Group:

“Should we add something asking flat out if their senator is too far [to the] left or too far to the right, and if they’d support a primary challenge and if so, would you prefer that candidate be more moderate or more progressive?”

That should seem fishy to most people.