Cuomo’s Office Using State Resources, Pressuring Departments to Artificially Inflate Crowd Numbers at Volunteer Events

Governor Cuomo’s administration has been secretly using state resources, pressuring Department officials to “crowd build” for volunteer events designed to inform about the state’s response to natural disasters such as Superstorm Sandy.

E-mails obtained by the New York Post show that aides to the governor contacted dozens of high-ranking state department officials, in some instances directing them to bring 10 people with them to the public events.

The forums were billed by the administration as an all- volunteer Citizen Preparedness Corps.

They were exchanged by high-level officials in Cuomo’s office, and at more than a dozen state agencies, including the Motor Vehicle, Transportation, Labor, Environmental Conservation and State departments, as well as at the Empire State Development Corp. and the Thruway Authority They’re told to lean on agency employees, groups that receive state services, friends and even family to generate turnouts for the events, which Cuomo has billed as a response to Hurricane Sandy and other severe storms, but which many see as an effort to generate publicity as he runs for re-election. “Events of these [sic] magnitude require an all hands on deck approach,’’ reads one official e-mail.

At one event held in Schenectady, Cuomo’s Capital District representative Mark Streb demanded that political appointees in nearly every state agency wrangle up at least 10 of these so-called volunteers.

“Every individual that receives this e-mail will be responsible for making sure at a minimum 10 people RSVP and attend the event,” he wrote.

Another e-mail from the Deputy Commissioner of the DMV to an aide suggests that employees could earn points with the Governor’s Office by using law enforcement officials to help bring in a crowd.

That sounds pretty threatening.

So how did Cuomo’s administration respond to news that the Post had uncovered the secret e-mails?

By threatening the newspaper.

Cuomo’s spokesman Richard Azzopardi refused to explain Streb’s efforts to pressure public officials to inflate turnouts for the events, but he did threaten — after being told The Post had learned of the e-mails — to disclose them to competing journalists, a move designed to undermine the impact of The Post’s story.

A former official said this type of bullying happens all the time with this administration, and that so much of what Cuomo does is an “illusion.”

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