One of the former New York Governors. Andrew Cuomo’s top advisers is reportedly working behind the scenes in an attempt to undermine his successor shortly after she assumed office, according to Politico.
Politico was told by a dozen journalists and political aides that Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s long-time advisor, and spokesperson, had been trying to save the governor’s career as a politician during his final weeks as governor. This included calling Gov. as an ally and making phone calls. Kathy Hochul implied that he was seeking to recruit transition workers. Some observers considered this a loyalty test. Hochul’s senior aides said to Politico that they weren’t aware of the activity. One described it as ”nonsensical”
Azzopardi reportedly also cold-called journalists with negative stories about Cuomo, private messaging journalists via social media to press them to doubt the allegations of sexual harassment against Cuomo and providing background quotes calling Hochul’s competence into doubt.
One unidentified reporter said: ”The fever [with] which they are doing this — to relitigate the past and undermine Hochul — is incredible. They don’t seem to see that they are out of power and no one cares.”
Hochul was denied by Azzopardi, who stated, “I’ve been very specific about my thoughts, wrote an Op-Ed but never said anything about governor or the new administration.”
He later added that he ”was trying to be helpful and aid in a transition and they seemed receptive. To spin this as somehow duplicitous is crazy. I wish them luck.”
Politico reports that Cuomo’s political aides and operatives have learned to expect him to use $18 million of his campaign war chest funds to pay his legal fees. This includes his enemies, which include the prominent Democrats who forced him to resign.
”What is a man to do with $18 million, a lot of enemies and a desire for revenge?” said political consultant Hank Sheinkopf, who has worked with Cuomo and for candidates running against him. ”This is not a guy who forgets. The only question is when he tries to get even, and whether it’s upfront or behind the scenes.”
”That money is politically radioactive,” added Democrat strategist Phil Singer, who previously worked for Cuomo on his 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial campaigns. ”Any politician who wants to benefit from it would have to be publicly reluctant to do so — even if they are privately excited about the cash infusion that it would provide.”
Azzopardi didn’t know what to say when asked if Cuomo would retaliate against Democrats that opposed him with his remaining campaign cash.
”I have no earthly idea how to answer that question, come on,” he told Politico.