It all began innocently enough. Cuomo has long called for public financing of elections to clean up Albany. Not only is that generally laudable, but makes particular sense in New York's corruption-ridden politics. He mentioned it in all his State of the State speeches, and included it in his budget.
Problem is, he's including it for one office only, the office of comptroller.
He has raised $33 million for his re-election. He clearly has no desire to either return the money, or give any challenger the chance to challenge him on the public's dime.
So there's hypocrisy involved, which for a politician, isn't actually the worst sin. In this case, the worst sin is this:
The comptroller is a Democrat and doesn't currently have a Republican challenger. If Cuomo is successful, not only would he get to pay lip service to the notion of public financing of elections, without actually putting his own skin on the line, but he would be essentially encouraging a free Republican challenge to the incumbent Democratic comptroller.
And to just top off the ridiculousness of Cuomo's effort, public financing of that race would only happen this year, so it's not even an effort to build a lasting public-financing scheme. Makes you wonder what the comptroller did to piss of Cuomo, as this appears to be a surgical strike intended to punish the guy.
A behind-the-scenes push to enact a public campaign finance pilot program that would impact the attorney general and/or controller's races this year has left some insiders believing that Gov. Cuomo is looking to hurt two fellow statewide Democrats with whom he has had tense relations since taking office.That was written before Cuomo's budget targeted only the comptroller's office. In the end, it looks like Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was too powerful to target, so they stuck with the comptroller's office. Then, Cuomo's office pretends to be outraged that people aren't rallying around this pretend reform effort:
"It makes absolutely no sense that the comptroller and attorney general would oppose public campaign financing in their elections," the Cuomo aide said.Again, Cuomo is explicitly targeting a Democratic rival, trying to entice a publicly funded Republican opponent while exempting his own office. AND, he's doing this as a one-year scheme, as opposed to lasting reform. And then he cries foul when called on it.
I'm fond of comparing Cuomo to Joe Lieberman, and the comparison fits better by the day.