Gov. Andrew Cuomo ducked reporters by holding a “closed press” event for the second straight day on Wednesday — while griping that high taxes were driving away New Yorkers even though he just agreed to a $4 billion hike.
By barring the media, Cuomo avoided questions about a damning, new magazine profile that alleged he compared himself to the Sonny Corleone character in “The Godfather,” boasted about his sexual prowess, insulted a male official with a crude reference to transgender people and made stereotypical remarks about blacks and Jews.
Cuomo appeared at Long Island’s Belmont Park to tout plans for a new arena for the New York Islanders hockey team.
At the event, Cuomo also said that officials “need to get property taxes down on Long Island” and called them “the highest in the country” — just days after state lawmakers passed a $212 billion budget with $4 billion in tax hikes on high earners and big corporations with his blessing.
“We’re taxing people out of the state,” Cuomo said.
The state’s scandal-scarred leader barred journalists from covering his remarks in person, with his office saying in an email, “Due to COVID restrictions, this event is CLOSED PRESS.”
The NY1 cable news station televised Cuomo’s Wednesday speech, after which anchor Pat Kiernan blasted him for restricting coverage to a government-controlled livestream.
“Again, worth pointing out the hypocrisy that the governor has allowed supporters to fill the room for this event but has not allowed reporters to enter the room for the event,” he said.
Kiernan noted that Cuomo “has insulated himself from reporters for the most part since the scandals and the sexual harassment allegations [against him] heated up a few weeks ago.”
On Tuesday, Cuomo barred the news media from an outdoor event at the Angry Orchard Cider House in upstate Walden.
The executive director of the good-government group “Reinvent Albany” called those decisions “undemocratic.”
“This is a governor who found time to write a book in the middle of a pandemic. Now he doesn’t have time to talk to reporters,” John Kaehny said.
“It’s nonsense. It doesn’t stand up. It’s his job and obligation to talk to the media. He’s got to take the good with the bad.”