Gov. Hochul seeks term limits, ban on officials’ extra income
Gov. Kathy Hochul wants New York to impose term limits on her office and other statewide elected officials and ban them from earning an outside income, changes that implicitly rebuke her predecessor Andrew Cuomo.
Hochul, a Democrat who took office in August after Cuomo stepped down amid sexual harassment allegations, issued a statement Monday saying the proposals are aimed at restoring trust and integrity in the state government.
“On day one as governor, I pledged to restore trust in government and I have taken steps every day to deliver the open, ethical governing New Yorkers deserve,” Hochul said. “I want people to believe in their government again. With these bold reforms, we will ensure New Yorkers know their leaders work for them and are focused on serving the people of this state.”
She did not mention Cuomo in the statement.
Cuomo, a Democrat, was elected to a third term in 2018 — a feat his father, former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, and several other governors achieved. But Andrew Cuomo didn’t finish his third term, stepping down after an investigation from the state attorney general concluded he had sexually harassed 11 women.
Cuomo has attacked the investigation as inaccurate and biased, denying he mistreating women and saying he resigned to avoid subjecting the state to turmoil.
Cuomo’s spokesman Rich Azzopardi did not immediately respond to a message seeking comment.
Hochul said she will propose a state constitutional amendment to impose a limit of two four-year terms on the governor’s office, as well as the other statewide elected offices: lieutenant governor, attorney general and comptroller. The legislation would need to be approved by the state legislature and voters.
Hochul said she also plans to introduce legislation barring those statewide elected officials from earning money outside their government salaries unless it’s for an academic position that’s approved by a state ethics board.
Cuomo was set to earn $5.1 million for writing a book about his leadership during COVID-19, and was paid a $3.1 million advance. The state ethics commission initially approved the book deal, but rescinded approval after concluding Cuomo used state property, resources and personnel to write the book.
Cuomo has acknowledged that state employees helped with tasks including editing the manuscript. But he says those employees were volunteering their private time.
New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics is seeking to have Cuomo turn over to the state all money he was paid for “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
Cuomo’s lawyer Jim McGuire has called the commission’s attempt to seize the book profits illegal.
The governor is expected to offer more details about her plans in her first State of the State address Wednesday.