Cuomo Cheats Voters by Failing to Debate

Cuomo Cheats Voters by Failing to Debate

For immediate release: October 11, 2018

Hawkins Says Cuomo Cheats Voters by Failing to Debate

Calls for Mandatory Debates as part of Public Campaign Finance System

Green gubernatorial candidate Howie Hawkins said today it was past time for Cuomo to agree to debates.

“The ‘Cowardly Cuomo Campaign Plan for Buying Elections’ is: Step 1. Promise favors to special interests like real estate barons and Wall Street financial tycoons in exchange for tens of millions in campaign contributions. Step 2. Avoid reporters. Step 3. Dictate to the media the time, place, and format of one debate. Step 4. Bury his opponents’ messages with paid ads that market him like the newest Apple gadget,” said Hawkins.

In his two Gubernatorial campaigns, Cuomo accepted only one debate. In 2010, the one debate was on October 18 and in 2014 on October 22.

“It’s getting late,” Hawkins said. “Voters should be worried that Cuomo thinks he’s satisfied his one debate quota with his Democratic primary debate with Nixon.”

“We don’t have democracy when elections are reduced to the legalized bribery of soliciting pay-to-play contributions. We have the best politicians that money can buy. And many of them aren’t satisfied this ‘honest graft,’ as the old Tammany Hall boss George Washington Plunkitt once called it. That’s why more than 50 state politicians have been convicted or forced to resign for bribery, kickbacks, bid-rigging, straw donors, sexual misconduct, tax evasion, and other forms of public corruption since 2000,” Hawkins said.

Hawkins called for a “Clean Money” public campaign finance system with mandatory debates like Arizona’s. In Arizona, candidates for state office qualify for equal public campaign grants by demonstrating support with a ballot petition, raising a limited number of $5 contributions, and agreeing to participate in debates sponsored by Arizona’s Citizens Clean Elections Commission. For governor in Arizona this year, qualifying required 4,000 $5 contributions collected between August 1 and 21. The grants for the primary and general elections totaled a $2.3 million per candidate.

Hawkins’ fellow Teamster and Green candidate for Arizona governor, Angel Torres, had his Clean Elections gubernatorial debate with the Democratic and Republican candidates on September 24.

Hawkins has proposed four regional debates (NYC Metro area, Capital District, Central NY and Western NY), each to focus on a topic: The Economy, Government Reform, The Environment and Climate, and Social Policy — including education, housing, health care, criminal justice, and civil rights.

Hawkins ran into Cuomo at the Global Citizens Festival in Central Park in New York City and told the governor he was looking forward to their next debate and a series of debates. Cuomo responded, “Are you going to organize them?”

Hawkins has been urging media and civic organizations to organize debates and not wait for Cuomo’s approval. “If Cuomo doesn’t come, there would be four of us criticizing his record and his absence would speak for itself. We should not let Cuomo keep dictating the terms of debates – or no debates,” Hawkins said.

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