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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — With Governor Andrew Cuomo leaving office in just days, we know many of you have questions about his future. Social media has a lot of misinformation out there so News10NBC’s Nikki Rudd has a fact check to clear things up.
The two big claims we’re hearing:
CLAIM #1: Governor Cuomo can still run for office again.
CLAIM #2: Governor Cuomo can use his campaign money for his legal defense.
Are those facts or fiction?
First, let’s tackle a future run for office.
“As of right now, he can absolutely run for office,” said Leslie Silva, a partner at Tully Rinckey PLLC in Albany. “There’s nothing stopping him.”
Silva knows a lot about this kind of stuff and says since Cuomo hasn’t been convicted of anything there’s no law out there keeping him from running. However, if Cuomo is convicted of a felony or even a misdemeanor, that could change.
“So if he is convicted of a felony in New York, he can’t hold office,” Silva explained. “But if he is convicted of a misdemeanor, it might only be a suspension of the time in which he can hold office.”
if he enters a plea agreement for a misdemeanor, Silva says he wouldn’t be able to hold public office again for five to 10 years after conviction depending on what’s negotiated.
We should note, Cuomo has not been charged with any criminal offense. At this point, the current allegations would only qualify as misdemeanors.
Here are more details Silva provided about the rules for holding office:
The New York State Constitution only states that a person is eligible to run for the office of governor or lieutenant-governor if they are a United States Citizen, 30 years old, and have been a resident of the state for 5 years. There are similarly minimal requirements for the New York State Legislature.
Public Officers Law Section 3 states, that if Governor Cuomo is convicted of a felony, he cannot hold a New York State civil office.
For U.S. Senate or House eligibility, a conviction does not, in and of itself, bar serving in Congress. The U.S. Constitution Article 1, Section 2 only has three requirements: age, citizenship, and residency. There are prohibitions for some crimes such as treason or bribery.
Any potential Presidential appointment would have to pass congressional approval, and a conviction, of any kind, could make that challenging.
Now, to that money. An $18 million war chest in campaign cash.
“What can he legally do with it?” Rudd asked.
“He can do quite a bit with it,” answered Silva. “He can’t use it for any personal reasons, but he can hold on to it for quite a while. He can use it to give donations. He can transfer it to state/local political platforms for the party. He can pay off any debts his campaign might have, and he also can pay legal fees that arise from holding office.”
So back to those claims:
CLAIM #1: Governor Cuomo can still run for office again. — FACT.
CLAIM #2: Governor Cuomo can use his campaign money for his legal defense. — FACT.
With Cuomo filing his retirement papers, what about his pension? If he was convicted of a felony Silva says he could potentially have his pension reduced or revoked, but it’s not automatic.
“There is a procedure that the District Attorney, that brought the criminal charge, must comply with and the Governor would be entitled to a hearing,” explained Silva.
Here’s a final fact check for you. There have been claims that Lt. Governor Kathy Hochul is U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s step-sister. That is FALSE. Pelosi doesn’t have any sisters. She had five older brothers