Photo: AP

Andrew Cuomo wants to be loved. He wants to run for president. He is also the embodiment of a morally bankrupt Democratic Party that has failed, at every juncture, to live up to any of the ideals it purports to hold dear. Andrew Cuomo is a snake. He should be allowed nowhere near the 2020 presidential election.

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Over the weekend, in the dead of night, Cuomo vetoed a bipartisan bill that would have required the state to fund legal services for the poor—a bill that the New York Civil Liberties Union called “the most important criminal justice reform legislation in memory.” The proposed legislation would have limited public defenders’ caseloads, allocated resources ensuring that defendants receive adequate representation, and shifted financial responsibility for providing legal services from counties to the state. These reforms, and others, were based on the result of a 2014 settlement in a lawsuit brought by the NYCLU.

“Until the last possible moment, we attempted to reach an agreement with the Legislature that would have achieved the stated goal of this legislation, been fiscally responsible, and had additional safeguards to ensure accountability and transparency,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said in a statement. “Unfortunately, an agreement was unable to be reached and the Legislature was committed to a flawed bill that placed an $800 million burden on taxpayers—$600 million of which was unnecessary—with no way to pay for it and no plan to make one.”

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Fuck that. The bill was passed unanimously in June; Cuomo waited veto it until Saturday night, after the 2016 legislative session was already closed—too late for his veto to be overridden.

At bottom, this incident is just one more example of the governor’s endless, myopic grasping for power, of which there have been several in the past week alone. Cuomo threw himself a New Years’ Eve party on the Second Avenue Subway, for example, celebrating its partial opening—three stops on the Upper East Side—after literal decades of delays. (It needs another $6 billion to extend into Harlem.) He announced his plan to take this year’s State of the State address on the road, delivering regionalized speeches in six different parts of the state for maximum publicity. Meanwhile, the ostensible leader of the Democratic Party in the state remains silent as the seven-member Independent Democratic Conference reaffirmed its plans to caucus with Republicans in the narrowly-divided state Senate.

The IDC-GOP coalition ensures two things: first, that the Senate remains divided and conservatives can extract legislative concessions in an overwhelmingly Democratic and progressive state, and second, that the perpetual cycle of legislative and budgetary crises continues, requiring the governor to swoop in and save the day at the last possible moment time and time again. “Despite a numerical Democratic-Working Families majority in the State Senate, Governor Cuomo has called the matter an ‘internal squabble,’ allowing the party of Trump to maintain control and block legislation desperately needed to resist Trump’s agenda,” Bill Lipton, director of the New York Working Families Party, director said in a statement. “It’s a stark reminder that despite his accomplishments, he remains deeply committed to a fiscal policy and agenda supported by his billionaire donors at the expense of working families.”

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Further reminder of those commitments came last week in the form of a ProPublica investigation into the relationship between luxury real estate developers in Manhattan and Albany politicians. As governor and attorney general, Cuomo has received $4.2 million from taxpayer-subsidized developers—about a third of which came from Glenwood Management—making him “by far the largest recipient of donations” among his peers. The money, which is largely disbursed through LLCs, formed around individual luxury Manhattan properties and subject to different (i.e. looser) campaign finance regulations, is spent not only to promote pro-industry legislation but to things like expanded rent regulation from ever making it to the floor. In a statement, Cuomo spokeswoman Dani Lever said, “No contribution of any size will influence a government action, period.”

Maybe so, but if there is any justice in this world—there isn’t really, but a boy can dream!—the enduring legacy of Cuomo’s administration will not be that of a “liberal lion” but that it was a corrupt and craven assortment of thugs and aspiring strongmen. On Monday, Congressional Republicans gutted their oversight committee, in a move that would be more shocking had Cuomo not done almost exactly the same thing just two years ago. Fortunately, that hasn’t stopped Preet Bharara, U.S. Attorney for New York’s Southern District, from bringing corruption charges against a slew of upstate politicians, successfully prosecuting the Assembly speaker and Senate majority leader in 2015 and unsealing a 14-count federal indictment against eight Cuomo associates in November.

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“Companies got rich, and the public got bamboozled,” Bharara said, when announcing the charges. “I do hope there’s a trial in this case, so that all New Yorkers can see, in gory detail, what their state government has been up to.” It would almost be reminiscent of the corruption scandal that Cuomo’s colleague across the Hudson, Chris Christie, has been fending off these past few years, if it weren’t so much worse.

Anyway! A very good way for Democrats to lose future elections will be to turn to Andrew Cuomo for leadership—a man who booked 200 hotel rooms in Washington, D.C., for the expected Clinton inauguration, only to hand them over to the chairman of New York’s Republican Party. But hey, if one loudmouth from Queens can win the White House, why not another?