Citizens Union Endorses Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo’s team announced today they were endorsed by Citizens Union.

This could be an important tool for Cuomo, who’s been on the receiving end of Mark Green’s comparison campaign and attacked by Jeanine Pirro as being unqualified.

Interestingly, in announcing their preferences [full statement after the jump], the group says:

“Citizens Union was also pleased to see Cuomo stress the need to partner with local district attorneys in addressing systemic enforcement issues such as Medicaid fraud … “

When Cuomo mentioned this idea during the NY1 debate, Green was quick to call it a bad idea.

Update: C.U.’s kind words for Mark Green, Sean Maloney and Charlie King are after the jump, and in their press release.

Azi Paybarah

From Citizens Union

Democratic Nominee for Attorney General

In commenting on the organization’s choice of Andrew Cuomo as the Democratic nominee for Attorney General, Dick Dadey, executive director of Citizens Union, said, “Andrew Cuomo earned our preference on the strength of his record in managing and reforming a large government agency like HUD, the way in which he articulates his vision for the office of Attorney General, including his specific ideas on how to pursue both Medicaid fraud and official malfeasance, and the commitments he made on a host of reforms like campaign finance and ethics. We felt that of the four worthy Democratic candidates, he is best equipped to manage the state’s Department of Law and bring innovation to the Attorney General’s office.”

In speaking further, Dadey said “As someone who has had a lifelong commitment to reform and worked on behalf of the public interest, Mark Green is clearly qualified to be Attorney General and would bring both experience and a worthy agenda of reform initiatives to the office. But in the end, we felt that Andrew Cuomo would be better able to accomplish what needs to be done in the critical issues confronting the state. Though Sean Maloney brings an admirable passion and strong commitment to reform of state government and Charles King has put forward thoughtful ideas on how to deal with problems involving education and health care, we believe that Cuomo has better experience and a stronger record of accomplishment than either of them. What will be critical is for Cuomo to have the strength to act successfully upon his expressed beliefs and compelling vision in a non political manner. Should he be elected, we hope that Cuomo brings his previous experience in Albany and at HUD to bear and acts in a sufficiently independent manner in addressing the desperate need to reform state government.”

Support for Cuomo

Citizens Union believes that Cuomo’s experience supervising 12,000 employees and 350 attorneys while serving as HUD Secretary under President Bill Clinton while bringing reform to a troubled and corrupt agency prepares him for the office of Attorney General. With specific ideas on reforming state government and practical proposals, Cuomo demonstrated that he has been thinking about these issues in concrete ways that attend specifically to the role and place of the Attorney General in the government structure. His record of accomplishment founding and leading the non profit Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged (HELP) and working at the Housing and Urban Development federal agency makes us hopeful that he has the managerial skills and experience to attain these goals.

Two key measures to combat the dysfunction in Albany, according to Cuomo, are campaign finance and redistricting reform. He argues that these two measures will make elections more competitive and in turn bring about more accountability to government and better qualified elected officials. Cuomo’s proposal to reform how campaigns are financed includes a limited public financing system, much like New York City’s, a ban on soft money contributions, a $10,000 limit on contributions to political parties, a $300 limit on contributions from corporations doing business with state, a moratorium on contributions from pharmaceutical companies doing business with the state, and other measures. He also supports a ban on elected officials accepting of honoraria or fees for public speaking engagements and other events, as well as a three year “cooling off” period before an elected or appointed official of the executive or legislative branch can lobby the state government.

Cuomo would more aggressively enforce the Tweed Law which brings suit to recover any governmental funds (state or local) that have been “without right obtained” as the way in which to fight political corruption, police unethical or fraudulent behavior, and enact political reform. He believes that simply enforcing the law will bring dramatic results.

If elected, Cuomo would also push for a comprehensive healthcare reform package including a crackdown on fraud and abuse in the pharmaceutical and insurance industries and more active policing of Medicare to protect seniors. Cuomo believes that Medicaid fraud is wide and that encouraging whistleblowers to come forward under the federal false claims act will bring greater compliance. Citizens Union was also pleased to see Cuomo stress the need to partner with local district attorneys in addressing systemic enforcement issues such as Medicaid fraud and his interest in continuing Spitzer’s work with other state attorneys general in protecting the environment at a time when the federal government has adopted a more laissez-fair approach.