Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been traveling by aircraft on the taxpayers’ dime – even when the trips followed statewide tours demanding government fiscal responsibility.
The Associated Press reported Sunday that Cuomo has used a state plane or helicopter more than a dozen times from January to June as a way to get to and from his suburban Westchester home, which he shares with girlfriend Sandra Lee. The trips, however, were not part of any fundraising or politicking events, according to the report.
A Cuomo spokesman said the governor’s use of state aircraft is for “official events” and trips to and from his home weren’t taken in order to commute to Albany, which is prohibited. A March 22 trip, however, showed the governor flew from Albany to Westchester, where he had no public events listed that day, the AP reported.
Spokesman Joshua Vlasto told the AP that counsel’s office and the secretary to the governor approve the trips Cuomo takes.
“The governor uses the plane in furtherance of state business,” Vlasto said.
Good government groups said politicians should tread carefully when using a public benefit for “private gain.”
Cuomo critic and GOP strategist Michael Caputo said he’s willing to cut Cuomo some slack because New York’s a big state and sometimes flying is the easiest option.
“Politicians need to show good judgment,” he added. “When it comes to anything [taxpayer funded], more oversight is always better than less.”
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was criticized in June for using state aircraft to travel to his son’s baseball game. He eventually reimbursed the state.