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The state chairman of the Republican Party on Wednesday ripped Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s plan to give himself power to appoint a new elections-law czar as “politically shallow.”
Cuomo, a Democrat, has called for creating a new “enforcement counsel” to investigate campaign-finance and ballot-related violations, in the wake of an alleged scheme to rig the New York City mayoral primary. Under the plan, Cuomo would nominate the enforcer; the state Senate would have to confirm. His plan also calls for creating “open primaries” and allowing voters to change their registration in a more timely manner.
As attorney general and gubernatorial candidate in 2010, Cuomo proposed giving the attorney general those powers.
GOP chief Ed Cox said he’d be more comfortable giving the state attorney general – who happens to be a Democrat these days – power to go after political corruption.
He said a Cuomo’s plan would create a “very partisan prosecutor.”
“It’s simply outrageous,” Cox said Wednesday at the State Capitol. “It shows how little thought (Cuomo) has given this. It’s all politically shallow. It shows there’s no thought of what’s good for New York but rather what’s good for the governor’s political standing.”
Cuomo, in a public-radio interview, defended the proposal. He said all prosecutors come with political backing. District attorneys are elected and federal prosecutors effectively are appointed by U.S. senators, he said.
Critics, Cuomo said, could say someone he appoints is “beholden to the governor.”
“But, ultimately, someone has to pick someone, otherwise nothing happens,” Cuomo said. “It’s called reality. Someone has to pick someone. God is not going to come down and say this person going be the enforcement (officer) for the (state) Board of Elections.”