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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fall from grace will come with a nice golden parachute in the form of a $50,000-per-year lifetime pension that he will remain eligible for despite his resignation — provoking outrage from the disgraced executive’s critics.
The windfall for Cuomo, who announced his resignation on Tuesday in the midst of a sexual harassment scandal, is coming because he has accumulated 15 years of state service thanks to his 11 years as governor and four years as attorney general, a pension expert said.
“So if you’re wondering, without a felony conviction and several other steps, Cuomo would be eligible for his full pension, at taxpayer expense, for the rest of his life,” said Tim Hoefer, president and CEO of the Empire Center for Public Policy.
The Empire Center crunched the numbers based on Cuomo’s annual pay and years of service and estimated he would be eligible for $4,222 a month in retirement income or $50,662 a year for the rest of his life.
Currently, a public official could have his or her pension reduced or revoked if convicted of a felony under the “Public Integrity Reform Act” approved by Cuomo in 2011, his first year as governor.
But resignation for wrongdoing or impeachment does not trigger a claw-back of a public official’s pension.
Legislation has been introduced to impose pension forfeiture for a public official and apply it retroactively. But the measure requires passage of a constitutional amendment and its passage is doubtful.
The Cuomo pension stuck in the craw of the governor’s critics.
“The only reason I would support Cuomo getting a pension is if he donated it to the harassment victims or the nursing home families whose loved ones died from COVID because of his policies,” said Tracey Alvino said, whose dad, Daniel, was infected with COVID-19 in a Long Island nursing home and later died.
Alvino, who previously called Cuomo’s controversial $5.1 million COVID book deal “blood money ” added, “Otherwise New York should pass a law denying a pension to someone who resigns in disgrace for misconduct or is impeached.”
Erica Vladimer of the Sexual Harassment Working Group said, “We need to re-evaluate laws that don’t hold elected officials accountable when they abuse their power.”
“I would support a law denying a pension to a public official who is impeached. I still think Cuomo absolutely should be impeached. Resigning is not accountability.”
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