Despite claiming that Governor Cuomo’s recent trip to Israel would “spare any expense to taxpayers,” the public is on the hook for thousands of dollars to pay for his team’s round-the-clock security detail.
Via the Times Union:
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign promised to pay for his excursion to Israel this month.
But the well-stocked re-election fund won’t cover the thousands of dollars associated with the State Police detail that provided round-the-clock security for the candidate.
A spokeswoman for the New York State Police told the newspaper that their agency paid for airfare, hotel, meals and other expenses for the Governor’s team. That cost, funds used from the State Police budget, is borne by the public.
Prior to departing for his trip, the Cuomo administration issued the following statement:
“The trip to Israel is an official government trip, however to spare any expense to taxpayers the campaign will be covering the cost for the Governor and his staff. The delegation members are paying separately.”
Instead, taxpayers were soaked for a low-end estimate of $13,000 to cover the security detail, a tab that could easily have been picked up by the Governor’s $32 million campaign coffers.
People familiar with New York gubernatorial trips say it is likely that five State Police officers accompanied the governor, and perhaps more. One probably left a day early to run through the itinerary and speak with Israeli security personnel, these people said. The governor’s staff told reporters proposing to participate in the trip to anticipate $2,000 fares on El Al, the airline that the campaign directed journalists to use, plus $360 for one night’s stay at the at the Mamilla Hotel in Jerusalem. Ground transportation for journalists was to cost about $180 to join the motorcade of Cuomo and Senate and Assembly officials.
An El Al agent would not disclose the cost of fares for the officials who traveled on the governor’s flight or state costs of flights during that period.
If they flew economy, the estimated cost for the State Police to be part of the trip would be appear to be about $13,000 if five officers were assigned, including meals. If any flew business class or first class, the price would be many times greater.
What are the odds that the security team opted to fly to Israel in Economy Class?
An editorial in the Daily Gazette made this ultimately prescient statement:
We doubt they’ll be dumb enough to charge taxpayers for this political jaunt, although they might be arrogant enough. Spokespeople for the men were quoted in several recent articles as saying it hadn’t been determined how the trip would be paid for — as if you and I would plan an overseas vacation without first figuring out where the money was coming from. That raises suspicions right there that we taxpayers eventually might be getting a bill.
Turns out they were dumb enough.