Rob Astorino is doing everything he can to make sure voters remember last week’s front page New York Times story about Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The Republican gubernatorial candidate released a new campaign advertisement this morning blasting Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, as another “phony” in the “cross hairs of federal prosecutors.” Mr. Cuomo, still expected to win re-election, was the subject of a lengthy Times story about his repeated interference with an anti-corruption commission he created.
“Burned again. New York voters trusted Andrew Cuomo to clean up Albany. Now he’s at the center of the biggest corruption scandal in years,” a speaker in the ad, titled “Burned Again,” intones. “Andrew Cuomo. Another phony. Another Albany official in the cross hairs of federal prosecutors.”
The ad is a “digital buy” for now but will be running on television at some point in the future, Jessica Proud, an Astorino spokeswoman, told the Observer. Mr. Astorino, the Westchester county executive, significantly trails Mr. Cuomo in both the polls and fund-raising, though he is hoping the new negative attention toward the governor will buoy his chances in November. The ad heavily quotes the Times, New York Post and New York Daily News.
Mr. Cuomo created a Moreland Commission last year to uncover public corruption, promising that it would be independent and allowed to investigate the executive branch. But multiple outlets including the Times reported that Mr. Cuomo’s aides foiled the commission by purposefully keeping investigations away from himself. Mr. Cuomo quietly ended the commission earlier this year, angering good government advocates and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who has vowed to continue the investigations that the Moreland Commission failed to complete.
While some observers believe the latest controversy surrounding the Moreland Commission will only concern Albany insiders and not the voting public, the bad press for Mr. Cuomo is entering the mainstream. Daily Show host Jon Stewart lampooned Mr. Cuomo last week, reportedly worrying Cuomo insiders. And Mr. Astorino, along with Mr. Cuomo’s long-shot Democratic primary rival Zephyr Teachout, are determined to make the latest questions about the Moreland Commission a top campaign issue.
Mr. Cuomo, who appeared to avoid the press in the days after the Times story appeared, is speaking in Buffalo this morning. In response to today’s ad, a campaign spokesman for Mr. Cuomo pointed to a recent “Astorino Truth Squad” attack that asked Mr. Astorino seven pointed questions, including queries about money he earned from Clear Channel Communications while serving as county executive, an Independence Party racketeering lawsuit and his apparent failure to release his public schedule as county executive.
Watch the full campaign ad below: