PEEKSKILL, NY – In front of a small crowd at a last minute thrown together event at the Kiley Center in Peekskill, Governor Andrew Cuomo today faced serious questions over the nature of his past employment of Democratic Senate candidate Peter Harckham, whom he endorsed at the event. Pay-stubs from the last two years indicate Harckham had “double-dipped” from two state positions simultaneously, earning over $311,000.
“Career politician Peter Harckham used his connections with a top state official and fellow South Salem resident recently convicted of bribery, who was also the Governor’s campaign manager, to get two full time political patronage jobs at the same time,” Martha Ruiz Jiménez, the spokesperson for the Committee to Elect Terrence Murphy said. “Harckham collected more than $311,000 through these two low-show political jobs, an outrageous abuse of taxpayer money. Now, he wants to be our State Senator so he can further exploit the system and collect another taxpayer-funded salary at our expense.”
Freedom of Information Law requests, the Governor’s own Project Sunlight website, the Empire Center for Public Policy’s SeeThruNY and the Authorities Budget Office’s Public Authorities Reporting Information system confirm that in both 2016 and 2017, Harckham was employed as working as BOTH the “Assistant Director OCR” and “Director of Intergovernmental Affairs/New NY Bridge” simultaneously.
Harckham was recently in the news for his work as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the “New NY Bridge” project, where, according to the Journal News, he was not important enough to be privy to the opening date of the bridge, just two weeks before it opened. Some residents questioned how that could be the case, which led to further inquiries about how and when Harckham had assumed this position, as there was no announcement of it from the Governor’s office, even though full-court press had been done for his initial hiring with the Cuomo administration as “Assistant Director of the Office of Community Renewal.”
The Office of Community Renewal is located in Albany, while the New NY Bridge is located in Tarrytown, raising questions as to how Harckham could be in two places at once. Although Harckham’s title was in the Office of Community Renewal, his paycheck was paid by the Housing Finance Trust Corporation, which appears to be a subsidiary public benefit corporation of the New York State Housing Finance Agency.
“The Housing Finance Trust Corporation is supposed to build affordable housing – not pay political employees,” Ruiz Jiminez said. “The Governor’s actions violate decent morality, and decent values. He is legendary for hiding political staff on different agency payrolls than those which actually employ them.”
Additionally, although Harckham served as Director of Intergovernmental Affairs for the Thruway Authority, there is but one mention of him on the Thruway Authority’s website. It was further unclear what, if anything Mr. Harckham did at the Office of Community Renewal, but in his time there, it would appear as though he attended one meeting and was cited in a slide presentation on fair housing.