Democrat Andrew Cuomo did not respond to numerous requests for an interview over several months. On Tuesday, after The Jewish Week spoke to Republican Carl Paladino, Cuomo’s campaign communications director, Marissa Shorenstein, agreed to forward questions for the candidate via e-mail and provided responses, which she wrote were “taken from his public comments.”
Jewish Week: You have visited chasidic leaders in Brooklyn. Have you also campaigned at a non-Orthodox venue? What is your understanding of the diversity of the state’s Jewish community? Who are some of the leaders you would look to as advisers?
Cuomo: The diversity of New York is what makes this state so unique and why I am so proud to be the attorney general and candidate for governor. Throughout my career, I have traveled the state, meeting with a wide variety of Jewish leaders in different communities. It has been an honor to do so and I look forward to continuing to meet with leaders of various parts of the Jewish community to hear their concerns and address their problems.
What changes, if any, would you seek for the legislative member item funding process to prevent corruption? Should the grants continue to be funded at the same level?
As attorney general, I established for the first time a review and certification process to help curb abuses in the award and spending of member item funds. That process should be codified into permanent law and expanded in several ways.
Specifically, I support:
Forbidding conflicts of interest in granting member items … Increasing transparency before the award is made … Ensure recipients of grants are legitimate … Require state agencies to oversee the spending of the allocated funds … Crack down on member item abuse …
The Department of Agriculture has a kosher inspection unit. Should the state continue funding this service at the current level or reduce or increase it?
We have been and continue to face difficult economic times in the State of New York and in this difficult fiscal environment we must continue to make the tough choices to get our State back on track and to live within our means.
That said, a Cuomo administration would be committed to ensuring that the inspection unit remains strong and is protected.
What, if anything, should the state do to help families who pay tuition for non-public schools, and should the state seek to aid these schools with more resources for non-religious instruction?
Our state faces serious fiscal challenges and we must review all of our spending measures to ensure that we are utilizing our resources as effectively as possible.
Some critics have linked the Clinton-era housing policies with the sub-prime mortgage crisis. Do you have any regrets about your time at HUD?
I am deeply proud of my record at HUD — we effectively fought waste, fraud and abuse. We ended subsidies. We took predatory lenders to court. We hired expert investigators to build civil and criminal cases against companies that were ripping off taxpayers.
I was secretary of HUD in the 1990’s and I had no oversight of investment vehicles like CDO’s [collateral debt obligations] and credit default swaps when Wall Street was allowed to run wild in the mid 2000s.
Can you describe how you will work with the state’s congressional delegation to make sure the state gets ample federal funding to fight terrorism and avoid cuts?
Having had the privilege of serving as secretary of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), I have worked in Washington, D.C. and understand the important role that our congressional delegation plays in our state and the funding we receive for important services.
If afforded the opportunity to be the governor of this state, I look forward to working closely with our delegation to fight for the funding that our state deserves.
What changes should be made to the state’s bid selection process in response to the AEG casino report by the state inspector general, and do you, as attorney general, believe the report merits prosecution of the legislators involved?
There is an ongoing investigation on the matter, so it would be inappropriate to comment on it. But, suffice it to say that there have been a number of these types of situations over the past few years that I have been attorney general and my approach has always been the same. You have to have zero tolerance for waste, fraud and abuse. The people of this state have a need to have trust in their government again, so if there was any violation of public trust, we have always been vigilant in pursuing it.