Cuomo Family Values

Political commentary and more.
Jan. 4 2000 8:47 PM

Cuomo Family Values

They thought I was being paranoid when I suggested the Clinton administration might alter its food stamp policy to help Hillary Clinton run for Senate against New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani. Hey, I thought I was being paranoid. But within hours of that alarmist item--which also suggested that Housing and Urban Development secretary Andrew Cuomo was gunning for Giuliani--Cuomo had dramatically seized control of $60 million in federal homeless money earmarked for New York, taking it away from the mayor.

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Cuomo's rationale? A federal judge had ruled that Giuliani acted with "retaliatory intent" in cutting funds to the advocacy group Housing Works, which has criticized the mayor's AIDS policies. But this rationale was self-refuting: Giuliani's "retaliation" had already been blocked by the judge, who presumably has the power to correct any impropriety and restore the group's funding. With the judge on Giuliani's case, who needed Cuomo? (Unless, of course, the Democrats feared the judge's ruling would be overturned on appeal.) ... Meanwhile Cuomo was engaging in political retaliation at least as blatant as that of which Giuliani was accused. ("We cannot allow federal funds to be politicized," Cuomo actually declared as he politicized federal funds.) ... If HUD seized back control of its funds every time a mayor was sued by an "advocacy" group and lost in district court, it would soon run out of mayors. But New York is the only city HUD has done this to.

Cuomo's motive, Dick Morris suggests in a recent column, was not so much to embarrass Giuliani on the homeless issue as to bait him into an angry outburst. If that was the strategy, it partially worked. (Giuliani blasted HUD, though he didn't come unhinged.) But this small victory for Hillary came at a cost of some embarrassment to Cuomo, who now looks a little like a partisan thug (and a disloyal thug at that, since Giuliani risked his career to endorse Andrew's father Mario in the 1994 New York governor's race.)

Question: Has Andrew Cuomo really thought this through? Does he really want to risk becoming known in his home state as a Shill for Hill? Does he want to tie his career to hers, subordinate the now-venerable Cuomo political dynasty in New York to a newly cobbled-up Clinton dynasty he'll have to live with for the next decade (as Senator H. Clinton plots her inevitable run for President)? ... Just a thought! ...  Andrew: You might consult your father on this... Actually, through Andrew Cuomo's wife, Kerry Kennedy Cuomo (who announced her husband's homeless power play to cheers at a Democratic Christmas function), the Clintons have succeeded in subordinating not one but two dynastic Democratic families to their own. ...

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