Governor Kathy Hochul sidestepped repeated questions by reporters Monday about her disgraced predecessor Andrew Cuomo facing sex crime charges upstate and state Attorney General Letitia James throwing her hat in the ring for her job next year.
“I am too busy to pay attention to this, I truly am,” said Hochul when asked about Cuomo at an unrelated Nov. 1 press conference. “If you look at my schedule, if you look at the responsibilities I have as governor, I’m not distracted whatsoever.”
The governor reiterated that she supported the bombshell investigation by James’s office detailing sexual harassment complaints by 11 women against Cuomo, which ultimately led to him resigning in August and then-Lieutenant Governor Hochul taking over at the state’s helm.
“I support the investigation, the results of the investigation, and believe the women, and that is all I’m going to say on this, because anything else takes you away from doing what the people of this state want me to do, which is focus on solving their problems,” she said.
Cuomo was hit with misdemeanor forcible touching charges in Albany on Thursday for allegedly groping an aide at the Executive Mansion in late 2020.
Local Sheriff Craig Apple filed the complaint before notifying Albany County District Attorney David Soares or the complainant Brittany Commisso and her attorney.
The next day, James officially announced her bid for governor after reports of her planning to launch her run for the state’s top job.
New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and Mayor Bill de Blasio are also possible candidates, but Hochul refused to take the “bait” by reporters to comment on her challengers — especially James whom she will be working with as AG throughout the primary campaign next year.
“You’re going to try and bait me every day, my friends,” she told reporters. “I’m a professional, I’ve been a public servant for the last 27 years, I know how to work with people whether they’re running against me or people who’ve lost to me.”
The Buffalo native has reportedly been fundraising intensely in recent weeks, telling supporters she wants to raise $25 million before next year, while attending events hosted by business and advocacy groups, and hobnobbing with politicos in James’s home turf of Brooklyn.
Hochul also remained tightlipped about Cuomo lawyer Rita Glavin contesting the filed charges against her predecessor. Glavin has accused Sheriff Apple of leaking secret grand jury testimony to the press and said the law enforcement official was politically motivated.
The ex-governor’s campaign email account has also been sending out messages trying to poke holes into the allegations and James’s investigation and Glavin said she’s “exploring legal remedies” for the alleged leaks.
Hochul wouldn’t say whether she believes Team Cuomo’s statements were detrimental to the ongoing investigations into the former governor, saying she was too preoccupied with the COVID-19 pandemic, getting kids vaccinated, brining back the economy, and preparing her State of the State address and the state’s next budget.
“I’m going to keep giving the same answer just so you can ask me on policies that the voters are really interested in,” she said. “Those are my priorities, everything else will unfold with or without my commentary. There are forces that are all dealing with each other, and that’s just fine with me.”