Posted For: Willie Wonka
It’s only a small part of how Gov. Kathy Hochul has the taxpayers helping her fatten her campaign warchest, but a telling one: She took another 50 or so flights at public expense from April to June on state-owned planes or helicopter, reports The Post’s Zach Williams — including a June 1 chopper trip to Queens to announce a temporary cut in New York’s gas tax.
That is, she spent roughly $2,500 for a photo op, though she also worked in a ribbon-cutting and a couple of fundraisers while in the city that day. (If she’d only done the political events, her campaign would have to repay the public, but she usually manages to find some “official” reason to avoid that necessity.)
Counting earlier reports, Hochul took at least 200 such flights in just her first 11 months on the job, costing the public several hundred grand.
More, her staff pinched a plane from the state Power Authority to upgrade her aerial experience (the craft the last gov used wasn’t good enough), forcing its techs to spend hundreds of added hours in travel to check plants and transmission lines across this great state.
(And no, the NYPA hasn’t found the cash to buy a new plane. Seems the state employs some penny-pinchers.)
The gov’s spokeswoman, Hazel Crampton-Hays, says the travel is all about doing her job — and her lawyers OK every trip. Hochul herself has explained, “A governor is allowed to go home. Buffalo is my home.”
Oh, and “We are using the state plane to allow me to connect with constituents, voters all across the state, as well as citizens. So, our objective is to be a different kind of governor” — though the last guy also got slammed for heavy taxpayer-funded travel.
“Hochul works around the clock,” Crampton-Hays also protested. Problem is, a lot of that “work” costs the public far, far more, since her reelection work so often involves doing deals with donors like the infamous Charlie Tebele, whose company charged the state double the going rate for COVID tests (for $637 million total) as his family gave her campaign nearly $300,000.
With the continued help of publicly-funded travel, her target is to raise $70 million total, which at Tebele’s rate suggests something like $80 billion in added state spending.
As we say, the free flights are the least of it.