As Ed Morrissey recently discussed, nobody seems to be sure where New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation letter is or if he even wrote one. This has led to understandable speculation as to whether he’s definitely going to step down or not. But assuming he is, he was certainly prompt in filling out the required forms to file for his pension. Under state labor laws, at the age of 63, Cuomo qualifies for limited pension benefits based on 15 years in public service. He served as Attorney General for four years and then put in eleven more as governor. The outrage coming from the women accusing him of sexual harassment or assault and the families of people who died in nursing homes is unlikely to impact his pension eligibility. The only way the pension can be denied or curtailed is if he is convicted of a felony, and that would require a judge to go along with the idea. (NY Post)
Disgraced Gov. Andrew Cuomo filed retirement papers with the state to receive a $50,000 annual lifetime pension — just days before his resignation takes effect over his sexual harassment scandal.
“The governor just filed his application for service retirement. The date of retirement is Sept. 1, 2021,” a spokesperson for the state comptroller’s office said Tuesday.
Under current law, neither resignation nor impeachment for alleged misconduct bars eligibility from obtaining a pension for state service. Only a felony conviction can trigger pension forfeiture.
There is actually one other way that Cuomo could end up not collecting his pension. He could not file for it. The state can’t force anyone to accept pension payments if they don’t want them.
But is that likely to happen? Not on your life, friends. To this day, Andrew Cuomo continues to insist that he never did anything wrong. All of the women who have accused him of impropriety simply “misunderstood” his interactions with them. And the nursing home deaths were probably just bookkeeping errors, right? So why should he give up his benefits?
The pension itself isn’t that much to write home about. Cuomo currently receives $225,000 annually in salary as the Governor. His pension would be in the range of $50,000 per year, which is barely above the median family income. But Cuomo has been making bank in the political world for quite a while now. Shouldn’t he have been working on a retirement plan? And let’s not forget all of the lucrative deals that he’s been involved in with his cronies. I would be deeply surprised if he wasn’t already sitting on a tidy nest egg.
As to the possibility of his pension being forcefully suspended, it’s still on the table but it’s probably a long shot. He’s facing potential prosecution on multiple counts of either sexual harassment or sexual assault. If convicted of the latter, it’s conceivable that he could take a felony charge, though his lawyers will no doubt be looking to trim the charges down to some level of a misdemeanor to avoid any jail time. And I doubt that a judge or prosecutor will be inspired to take his pension situation into account when deciding on the charges.
Cuomo is supposedly leaving office next Wednesday. His official retirement date is listed as September 1. But the process of having the legislature conclude his impeachment inquiry and for a decision to be made about any possible prosecution could drag on for months, if not years. I somehow doubt we’ll be seeing the end of this story any time soon.