Exactly one week ago, Andrew Cuomo gave New Yorkers his two-week notice of resigning his office. Since then, wheels have been turning in Albany for the transition. Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul has prepared not just assume office but also to run again next year for a full term, while playing coy on a Cuomo pardon. The state assembly buried its impeachment report, only to agree to exhume it a few days later.
There’s only one catch — has Cuomo actually resigned? No one has seen a letter, and the state requires notice in writing of a resignation. And for the moment Cuomo and his remaining team are mum on when — or whether — it will come:
Cuomo still has not submitted formal resignation letter https://t.co/I6sjKslTLj
— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) August 17, 2021
That’s … a problem, Meaww’s Pritha Paul writes:
According to New York law, if a public officer resigns, which includes the governor, “Every resignation shall be in writing addressed to the officer or body to whom it is made. If no effective date is specified in such resignation, it shall take effect upon delivery to or filing with the proper officer or body. If an effective date is specified in such resignation, it shall take effect upon the date specified… A resignation delivered or filed pursuant to this section, whether effective immediately or at a specified future date, may not be withdrawn, canceled, or amended except by consent of the officer to whom it is delivered or body with which it is filed.”
However, New York Post, as well as multiple social media reports, have confirmed the fact that Cuomo is still to submit his signed resignation letter to the concerned supervising body. Given that Cuomo holds certain powers as chief executive of the state of New York, he is required by law to forswear his office before Hochul can take his place. The New York Times national political reporter Shane Goldmacher confirmed on Monday, August 16, that Cuomo had still not handed over his resignation letter.
Not only is that a problem, John Podhoretz points out, but so is Cuomo’s continued authority over the state government in the interim. Cuomo ordered a new vaccine mandate yesterday affecting hundreds of thousands of health-care workers in New York six days after announcing that he would leave office in disgrace. That order takes effect on September 27, long after Cuomo said he’d be gone:
Smack dab in the middle of packing, he simply imposed a mandate on 450,000 people that will take effect a month after his departure from the governor’s mansion. Cuomo is the lamest duck in the history of lame ducks. But he ain’t acting like one.
As a moral matter, the guy has no business making unilateral rules that are to take effect 32 days after he’s gone. But then, the guy really had no business unilaterally deciding he was going to remain governor for two weeks after his resignation.
John wonders where the letter is as well, and suspects it might not be forthcoming at all:
Might it be that Cuomo has a scheme to stick around? Could this whole resignation business be a kind of trial balloon — to see whether things might change so dramatically due to unforeseen circumstances that he might have grounds to rescind his resignation?
David Paterson, whom Cuomo succeeded as governor, said it last week: “It was just a little puzzling that they wanted to have that amount of time … It’s suspicious, I’ll put it that way.”
It’s a lot suspicious. John offers up some recent examples of gubernatorial retreats in Alabama and Missouri, but Paterson’s experience is even more on point. Paterson rose to the office via Eliot Spitzer’s resignation in 2008 in the call-girl scandal, which appears fairly tame contrasted with the scope and breadth of Cuomo’s corruption and behavior. Spitzer offered his resignation immediately, but Paterson apparently asked for a five-day transition to prepare himself to take over the role:
Paterson noted that when former Gov. Eliot Spitzer (D) resigned, he asked for a five-day transition period to prepare for his inauguration.
However, he argued that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul (D) does not need that transition period because, “She has been aware that this situation could occur since March — since the investigation began. So, I think as she was sort of hinting yesterday, she’s ready to take over right now.”
“I just think the governor has just not resolved in his mind what’s actually going on yet, and his self-awareness just does not seem to be particularly helpful to him at this particular time,” he added.
This brings up another problem. Spitzer’s scandal was personal; it didn’t have any direct connection to Spitzer’s work as governor (although Spitzer hypocritically ran on the basis of get-tough enforcement of prostitution laws). Leaving Spitzer in place an extra few days may have been uncomfortable but not necessarily detrimental to the operation. Cuomo resigned because he had operated a hostile work environment in the very office he’s continuing to occupy — let alone all of the other abuses of power he’s alleged to have committed as well. Cuomo should have been physically ejected from the capital and the mansion as soon as he announced his intent to resign.
I wonder what kind of abuse his staff is taking over this fortnight?
Anyway, this will almost certainly end in his departure. Cuomo’s likely waiting until the last minute to submit his letter of resignation out of both spite and the need to be the center of attention at all times. If for some reason Cuomo doesn’t follow through, then Carl Heastie can simply demand an immediate impeachment vote and the state senate can vote on removal immediately — as well as disqualification. In the meantime, they should pass a bill restraining Cuomo’s authority for executive action on the basis of his announcement of resignation.
Update: Cuomo may not have had a chance to send in his resignation letter, but he’s been proactive on ensuring his pension kicks in right away. He might not have a long time to enjoy them, however, no matter how good his health remains:
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo filed for retirement benefits on Tuesday, following his decision to resign last week amid a sexual-harassment scandal.
Officially filing for retirement sets Cuomo up to receive a monthly pension payment from the state after more than a decade in public office. The three-term Democrat could be eligible to receive at least $50,000 a year in pension benefits from the state, according to the Empire Center, an Albany watchdog group. The payment could potentially be revoked if he is convicted of a felony, the group said.
Given Cuomo’s impact, his retirement planning is at least some good news today.