Governor campaigns with tax money

We welcome Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin, state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and a raft – or rather, many rafts – of other visitors to the Adirondacks this weekend for the Adirondack Challenge. We hope they have a great time, and we appreciate Gov. Cuomo’s persistent efforts to promote Adirondack tourism to people throughout the rest of the state – and now to Vermonters, too.

It’s too bad that this visit comes at a time when we need to give the governor a piece of our mind, but that’s how it is, so here goes:

In an election year, Gov. Cuomo is spending a large amount of tax money on television ads that are thinly veiled re-election plugs. This kind of thing is nothing new among politicians, but it’s still unethical and wasteful of the people’s funds – especially in Gov. Cuomo’s case, since he has so much campaign cash of his own.

The Democratic incumbent’s campaign has about $35 million on hand, compared to $2.4 million for Republican opponent Rob Astorino, yet Cuomo has had the state commit $161 million out of a $237.5 million pool – including almost $40 million that’s supposed to be for Hurricane Sandy relief – to television ads that generally say New York has become wonderful under his lead.

We thank Gannett for revealing those numbers; the Cuomo administration held out for a year on responding to the newspaper company’s request under the Freedom of Information Law.

Gov. Cuomo’s upbeat message is not even necessarily true. He has done some good things for the state, especially budget-wise, but the upstate economy has not thrived under him, and local governments and schools are suffering under funding cuts, local tax meddling and a lack of promised mandate relief. Also, corruption in the state Capitol has been enabled ever since Gov. Cuomo abandoned his Moreland commission, let legislators redraw their own districts and let Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver use tax dollars to bribe women into keeping quiet about being sexually harassed by one of his cohorts, now-former Assemblyman Vito Lopez.

If Gov. Cuomo wants to put a happy face on things and say New York is “Open for Business,” fine, but he should use his own money to do so.

It’s bad enough that he has let himself be bought by wealthy special interests. Newsday reports that nearly half of the $43 million he raised this election cycle comes from those who gave $40,000 or more, whereas Mr. Astorino tended to rely more on small donors. Big donors expect big favors in return.

But what makes it worse is that Gov. Cuomo barely spends the donors’ money, instead milking the taxpayers for his self-promotion.

In socializing expenses while privatizing gains, Gov. Cuomo shows himself as a corporate candidate rather than a man who puts the people first. Again, that’s not surprising in politics, but it’s disappointing from a man who promised New Yorkers much better.