Urban CNY, July 7, 2019
Howie Hawkins, the Green Party candidate for Governor, said today that Governor Cuomo needs to stop protecting President Trump and authorize State Attorney General Barbara Underwood to formally investigate Trump and his foundation.
Hawkins also said that Cuomo needs to immediately return the $64,000 he has received in campaign donations from Trump. “We need a Governor who has some sense of ethics and principles, who doesn’t feel compelled to solicit money from every special interest that wants to curry his favor. He needs to stop collecting tribute from the fossil fuel industry, Wall Street and real estate industries who view a donation to Cuomo as the price to opening up the state’s piggy bank,” noted Hawkins. Hawkins has long advocated for a ban on pay-to-play campaign contributions and an enactment of a Clean Money full public campaign finance program.
On June 14, the State Attorney General filed a lawsuit against Trump and his foundation. The petition “alleges a pattern of persistent illegal conduct, occurring over more than a decade, that includes extensive unlawful political coordination with the Trump presidential campaign, repeated and willful self-dealing transactions to benefit Mr. Trump’s personal and business interests, and violations of basic legal obligations for non-profit foundations. “
“Mr. Trump used the Trump Foundation’s charitable assets to pay off his legal obligations, to promote Trump hotels and other businesses…. At Mr. Trump’s behest, the Trump Foundation illegally provided extensive support to his 2016 presidential campaign by using the Trump Foundation’s name and funds it raised from the public to promote his campaign for presidency… The Trump Foundation was little more than a checkbook for payments from Mr. Trump or his businesses to nonprofits, regardless of their purpose or legality” the petition added.
Unfortunately, NYS law does not grant the Attorney automatic authority to initiate criminal investigations. However, Governor Cuomo can easily provide that authority by requesting such an investigation. This authorization would also enable Underwood to obtain a copy of Trump’s income tax returns, as David Cay Johnston explained in a July 4 op-ed in the New York Times. Johnston is a veteran investigative reporter on tax issues, public corruption, and Donald Trump’s affairs. Once such returns are available, it will be much easier for legal authorities to investigate the myriad claims that Trump has been widely involved in illegal money laundering.
“Why is Cuomo protecting Trump? As always, the Governor likes to boast that no one has been more critical of Trump than him. But when there is a simple step he can take to back up his boasts, he refuses to do so. Trump and Cuomo are two of a kind when it comes to their bluster,” noted Hawkins.
Michael H. Sussman, the Green Party’s candidate for Attorney General, noted that New York law should be changed to allow the Attorney General to independently launch such investigations. “The independent office of Attorney General should not depend on the Governor’s approval to launch critical criminal investigations. In this instance, doing so would plainly serve the Governor’s own interests, but, in other cases, a Governor might very well want to quash any such inquiry,” Sussman said.