Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, mocked Florida Senator Rick Scott in a tweet referencing the Parkland school shooting that killed 17 students roughly one year ago.
Scott took to social media to jab Cuomo over residents fleeing the Empire State in droves, a result of New York’s high taxes and unfriendly business environment.
According to CBS Miami, Cuomo complained that residents “are fleeing to the sunshine state to save big time on taxes.”
Scott responded by tweeting “guilty as charged,” noting his state’s lesser tax burden, balanced budget, and job openings amongst other areas are in better shape than New York.
.@NYGovCuomo is blaming FL for NY’s population loss and budget shortfall.
I say: guilty as charged.
Lower taxes ✅
Balanced budget ✅
Job openings ✅
Better weather & beaches ✅
FL population ⬆️ NY population ⬇️
Keep doing what you’re doing, Governor. https://t.co/FEDZhrPaO6
— Rick Scott (@SenRickScott) February 14, 2019
Azzopardi Mocks School Shooting
In a since-deleted tweet, Azzopardi made a reference to the quality of schools in Florida just one day before the anniversary of the horrific Parkland shooting.
Cuomo’s office and his attack dog aides on social media often tout their state’s strict gun laws (SAFE Act) as a policy success to be adored by the rest of the nation. It is one of the few areas New York could claim a progressive victory over Florida and a platform consistently touted by the administration.
“Nice schools you got there,” Azzopardi snapped back at Scott.
He has since deleted the tweet. pic.twitter.com/uxzvHe0jka
— Rusty Weiss ??? (@rustyweiss74) February 14, 2019
Since Azzopardi declined to offer context to his tweet, we’d like to provide that important information.
There is, of course, the aforementioned SAFE Act which is always on Cuomo’s aide’s minds. This tweet was sent out the night before the anniversary of the Parkland tragedy.
Had you performed a Google search of ‘Florida schools’ at that time, every major news article referenced the anniversary of the shooting or the state’s reaction to it since that time, particularly reports that Governor Ron DeSantis had ordered a grand jury investigation into whether or not Florida school districts were following the law.
What he’s referencing…https://t.co/BilFnHUTC6
— Rusty Weiss ??? (@rustyweiss74) February 14, 2019
Additionally, as a long time observer of politics in New York, it’s worth noting that Azzopardi doesn’t back down from social media fights. Yet, he clearly knew what he had tweeted was wrong on just about the worst level, as evidenced by the fact that he deleted it.
In a subsequent tweet, Azzopardi claimed he simply hadn’t read all of Scott’s post, and as a result, pulled his comment.
“Tweeted that last tweet before I read the whole post,” he wrote. “Deleted it, this guy (Scott) needs help.”
Followers weren’t buying the explanation.
What part of the entire post made you change your mind about your joke? Sounds like spin. Consider the optics next time, Dick!
— Nicolas Cocaign (@NicolasCocaign) February 14, 2019
You are a sick person, Rich, if you think this was appropriate.
— jg (@Situlevieux) February 14, 2019
Again, Azzopardi isn’t known for pulling back on even the most obnoxious of tweets. This is a man, after all, who has a quote of a City & State article as his background image on Twitter, which reads: “Albany observers describe his tweets as insulting, below the belt, attacking, snarky or merely strange.”
Why would a guy who touts the New York media’s description of him as being “insulting” on Twitter, pull an insulting message? Because he knew what he was referencing was wrong.
Speaking of the New York Media
Aside from a quick blurb in Politico’s New York Playbook, reporters in the state have largely ignored Cuomo’s top adviser making light of a mass shooting.
“Cuomo advisor Rich Azzopardi mocked Florida Republican Sen. Rick Scott with an apparent reference to the Parkland school shooting in a tweet that was quickly deleted,” they wrote in their ‘Around New York’ section.
National outlets covered the shocking ‘joke,’ with the Washington Free Beacon first noting Azzopardi’s comments and RedState adding that “mocking a tragedy is hardly the remedy” to losing billions in tax revenue because people are leaving the state.
Twitchy, as always delivered the snark, referring to Cuomo’s aide as an “Azzhole.”
Numerous reporters from NY1, to Albany’s largest newspaper, the Times Union, to Spectrum News were tagged in a screenshot of Azzopardi’s comments. None responded or followed up with the adviser by asking him about the comments.
For his part, Azzopardi has remained silent despite the deluge of comments sent his way through social media, an oddity for a guy who brags about delivering “insulting, below the belt, attacking, snarky” tweets on a consistent basis.
Why would home state journalists ignore the controversial story? Take a trip down Azzopardi’s Twitter timeline and you will see reporters almost daily playing footsie with him, joking back and forth, liking and retweeting his attacks on other politicians, never fact-checking the most absurd defense’s of the administration.
It’s clear they enjoy access to the administration and one of its top gatekeepers. Actually reporting negatively on Cuomo or somebody he holds in high regard could jeopardize that. Rather than do their jobs, they’d rather cling to their perceived friendship with Azzopardi.
Now, imagine for a moment, that a senior aide to President Trump had mocked Florida over a school shooting. Think they’d cover it then?