NY Dem Leader: Cuomo Can Be ‘Positive’ Force in Democratic Party’s Future

 NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 17: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks before getting vaccinated at the mass vaccination site at Mount Neboh Baptist Church in Harlem on March 17, 2021 in New York City.

The night before New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation officially went into effect, a Democratic leader said the disgraced governor should continue to play a “productive” and “positive” role in the party’s future.

New York State Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs made the comments on Monday night’s episode of “The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell” on MSNBC.O’Donnell asked Jacobs, a Cuomo ally, what he wanted the resigned governor to do with the $18 million in campaign donations he raised. Under campaign finance law, he can’t transfer those funds to a national candidate.

“He can give it to your state Democratic Party,” O’Donnell said. “Are you going to ask him for that $18 million?”

Charities and candidates frequently rejectreturn, or donate campaign donations from individuals they consider tainted or unsavory, rather than solicit them.Jacobs said he would welcome the donations from Governor Cuomo. “I can share the wiring instructions with him if he would like,” quipped Jacobs. “We would be more than happy to take some of that money into the party.”

“My hope is that he is going to remain a productive and positive force in the party and in politics,” said Jacobs, before putting in a pitch for Cuomo’s remaining war chest. “And his help with those funds and other assets certainly, you know, would be something we would appreciate.”

O’Donnell asked about whether the governor, who stands accused of sexually harassing 11 women, should be able to use his financial might to punish lawmakers who held him accountable for the scandal.

“But is that, kind of, morally acceptable to the New York state Democratic Party, that Andrew Cuomo would sit there with the $18 million and dole it out to the people within the Democratic Party … [whom] he favors?” O’Donnell asked, noting the donations could set off “a grudge match against others whom he resents based on the way the last year of his career has worked out.”

“I could either live with it or not,” replied Jacobs.

Under campaign finance laws, the governor could also donate the $18 million to charity — something Jacobs said “would be a very good use of the money, as well” and which “would enhance his image and his legacy.”

O’Donnell raised another possibility: Cuomo could keep the campaign funds and wage an independent campaign for governor.

“What about the scenario in which Andrew Cuomo runs as an independent, using his $18 million. He could be the best-funded gubernatorial candidate next time around, running against a Democratic nominee that could be Governor [Kathy] Hochul at that time, or could be someone else, and a Republican nominee: Andrew Cuomo in the middle, $18 million as an independent,” he said.

Jacobs said that “would not be a good scenario for the party” or Cuomo’s former lieutenant governor, who was sworn in as governor on Tuesday.

Hochul may face a challenge from New York state Attorney General Letitia James, who released the 168-page report detailing allegations of sexual harassment by former Governor Cuomo ranging from verbal to physical. One such incident involved a September 2019 encounter with a state trooper, in which Cuomo allegedly walked past her and “ran the palm of his left hand across her stomach in the direction opposite the direction that he was walking.” The female trooper said that she felt “completely violated” by the governor touching her “between my chest and my privates.”

His former executive assistant, 32-year-old Brittany Commissio, said that Cuomo kissed her, grabbed her butt, and groped her breast under her shirt and over her bra.

The women’s stories make such compelling reading that Jacobs has said publicly that he believes the allegations contained in the report. Still, he said, “I feel badly for the governor because I don’t see him as a bad person at all.” Cuomo’s “legacy that certainly deserves, you know, our admiration for so many parts of it,” said Jacobs on the August 4 episode of CNN’s “Don Lemon Tonight.”

“I also pointed out,” Jacobs added, “that in American politics, you know, there’s always room for redemption.”

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