At NYU, Astorino complains about Cuomo playbook, reads from his own

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Rob Astorino. (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
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Governor Andrew Cuomo has “got some ‘splaining to do,” according to Westchester County Executive and Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

“Andrew Cuomo promised radical reform in his first State of the State address in early January 2010," he said to an audience of more than 50 people at an event hosted by the NYU College Republicans. "We haven’t gotten it; we’ve gotten the same old stuff."

New York has “the most corruption in America, and it really is the Democratic culture of corruption in Albany. And it’s gotta end, it’s despicable."

Astorino was introduced by club president John Catsimatidis, Jr., who praised Astorino’s “25 years of dedication to Republican ideals.”

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Astorino, who arrived 38 minutes late, opened with an obligatory de Blasio joke: “Just think—if I were Mayor de Blasio, you’d still be waiting another hour.” 

(The audience laughed.)

Though he hit his normal talking points—that New York is driving out its residents and its businesses, and that he can win (despite Cuomo's seemingly insurmountable advantages), since he won in Democratic Westchester—Astorino spoke mostly off the cuff for 15 minutes, before taking audience questions for another 15.

Asked by a reporter about the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, which Cuomo controversially shuttered and whose files are now possessed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Astorino said, “I think the U.S. attorney has very strongly condemned the governor for abruptly shutting down the very same ethics commission that he empaneled with subpoena power, because the corruption was out of control.”

“Members of that commission are saying that the governor’s office directly, directly poked their nose into the commission and stopped investigations that were leading toward, perhaps, the governor’s office, the Democratic Party, and they squashed subpoenas, and they in fact wrote the commission’s report,” he continued. “So what started off as supposed to be looking broadly at corruption may end up being turned on the governor, and investigating him and his staff.”

After the talk, Astorino told Capital, “I think it’s right that the U.S. attorney look into it, because everyone has a right to know if the governor started this, where this was going, where the investigations were leading. And the public has a right to know. This should be about transparency and accountability, and we got none of that.”

Bharara didn't precisely delineate the scope of whatever investigation his office will undertake after taking possession of the commission's files, but he did indicate that its work was ended prematurely because of a deal between Albany leaders.

Astorino also spoke in support of about fracking, though he avoided explicitly using that word.

New York, he said, is “blessed with natural gas. And this governor is sitting on his hands, for purely political reasons.”

He continued, “We’ve got natural gas in upstate New York, that we could safely, responsibly, with public health being the first and foremost issue for all of us, safely and responsibly do and extract, which would create literally tens of thousands of jobs.”

Astorino, who is opposed to abortion, also spoke about how to pitch himself to a Democratic state.

“Let me ask here, How many of you are right-wing Tea Party extremists who hate women? No?” he asked, to laughter. “Oh, well neither am I. But you know what? That’s all they say. That’s their whole playbook.”