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In Senate GOP’s fight with Cuomo over live-in girlfriends' finances, Cuomo once argued other side

ALBANY - ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, through his aides, has given a chilly response to Senate Republicans for proposing that some financial data regarding live-in girlfriends of elected officials -- such as Cuomo’s girlfriend, Sandra Lee -- be subject to the same ethics disclosures required for spouses of elected officials.

But back in 2009, then-Attorney General Cuomo made that connection himself. He equated spouses to “domestic partners” in a code of conduct he mandated as part of his investigation of conflicts of interest.

In his investigation at the time, Cuomo prompted more than a dozen wind energy companies to adopt his “code of conduct” when dealing with local officials.

Cuomo’s code barred the wind power companies from providing a benefit to, or hiring, a relative. Cuomo’s agreement said “relative” under the code “means a spouse or domestic partner” as well as children and dependents for tax purposes.

At the time, Cuomo said the code was critical for the industry to “grow without the suspicion or shadow of public corruption or anything else outside the law.”

Currently, state officials must file annual ethics disclosure forms with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. That form requires that a spouse be named along with any paid or unpaid “office, trusteeship, directorship, partnership or position of any nature” and any interest over $1,000, among other requirements.

The Senate’s bill, submitted without identifying sponsors, would require such disclosure of food TV star and entrepreneur Lee. Cuomo is trying to force new ethics disclosures on lawmakers this session.

Through an aide, Cuomo declined comment on the 2009 code of conduct. Cuomo lives in Lee’s home in Westchester County and has said he helps pay the taxes.

Cuomo’s office said it would review the bill, but criticized the Senate for not identifying the sponsors.



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