Kathy Hochul

Kathy Hochul

© Image Copyright: KC Kratt

Overview

* Was elected Lieutenant Governor of NYS in 2014
* Replaced Andrew Cuomo as Governor of NYS in 2021, after Cuomo resigned amid sexual scandal
* Won election for Governor of NYS in 2022
* Supports “Criminal-Justice Reform” that seeks alternatives to incarceration
* Supporter of Black Lives Matter
* Views racism as a “public health crisis”


Background

Kathy Hochul was born Kathleen Courtney on August 27, 1958 in Buffalo, New York. Her official biography on the website of the U.S. House of Representatives — where she served as a Member from 2011-2013 — says that Courtney was raised in a family of six children by “politically and socially conscious parents.” Courtney graduated from Syracuse University in 1980 with a B.A. in Political Science, and subsequently earned a J.D. from Catholic University in 1983.

Courtney was heavily engaged in activism as a college student during the 1970s. As a leader in the Syracuse student government, she demanded that the university sever all of its relations and investments connected to the then-pro-apartheid government of South Africa. Courtney also petitioned for the school to name its new athletics arena after Syracuse alumnus Ernie Davis, who in 1961 had been the first black football player to win the prestigious Heisman Trophy.

In 1984, Courtney married a young attorney named William Hochul, who later: (a) worked for nearly three decades at the Department of Justice, including six-plus years as U.S. Attorney for the Western District of New York during Barack Obama’s presidency; and (b) became the Senior Vice President of a large hospitality-and-casino firm called Delaware North Companies, Inc.

Entering the World of Politics

After finishing law school, Kathy Hochul worked in Washington, D.C. from 1984-86 as a legislative assistant for Democratic Rep. John LaFalce of upstate New York. She then joined the staff of Democrat U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan for two years (1986-88).

In 1991, Hochul returned with her family to upstate New York, where, in January 1994, she was appointed as a Democrat to fill a newly vacated seat on the Town Board of Hamburg, located in Erie county. In November 1994, Hochul was elected to a full four-year term on that same Board, and she was subsequently reelected in 1998, 2002, and 2006, before resigning from that position on April 10, 2007.

Also during her time in Hamburg, Hochul served a stint as Vice Chair of the Erie County Democratic Committee. In 2000 she was a spokeswoman for Hillary Clinton’s U.S. Senate campaign in New York State. In 2003 Hochul was appointed as Chief Deputy for the Erie County Clerk’s Office. In early 2007 Governor Eliot Spitzer appointed her to fill the unexpired term of Erie County Clerk David J. Swarts. And in the fall of that year, Hochul won election to a full term (2007-2011) as Erie County Clerk.

In May 2011, Hochul ran in a special election to determine who would replace the resigning Republican U.S. House Member Chris Lee in New York’s 26th Congressional District, the state’s most heavily Republican District. New York’s two Democrat U.S. Senators, Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, both campaigned on behalf of Hochul, who also received the endorsements of the Working Families Party and the pro-abortion giant EMILY’s List. In the end, Hochul garnered over 47% of the vote to defeat Republican opponent Jane Corwin and Tea Party candidate Jack Davis. This special election centered primarily on the candidates’ perspectives regarding the future of Medicare. Because the election took place just months after Democrats had suffered historic losses in the 2010 midterms, then-Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz emphasized that Hochul’s victory would have “far-reaching consequences beyond New York.”

At the time of her election victory in 2011, Hochul was not an official resident of New York’s 26th Congressional District; her home in Hamburg was located in the state’s 27th Congressional District. Soon thereafter, though, Hochul moved to the 26th District in order to silence critics who cast her as an outsider.

According to GovTrack.us, Hochul voted as a relatively moderate Democrat during her brief time in Congress from 2011-2013. The lone piece of signature legislation which she sponsored as a House member was the Clothe a Homeless Hero Act, which sought to allow for the federal government to “transfer unclaimed clothing recovered at airport security checkpoints to the local airport authority or other local authorities for donation to charity, including local veterans organizations or other local charitable organizations for distribution to homeless or needy veterans and their families.” The bill was signed into law by President Barack Obama in January 2013.

Hochul was also a staunch supporter of Obamacare’s highly controversial mandate requiring all employers to offer health insurance plans that covered the cost of contraception, sterilization, and a “morning-after” abortifacient drug. This mandate gave no exemption to religious institutions—such as Catholic schools, charities, and hospitals—whose moral principles might oppose such practices or products.

Hochul Is Voted out of the U.S. House (2012)

In her 2012 bid to retain her seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, Hochul lost the general election to Republican Chris Collins by approximately 5,000 votes — despite having outraised Collins by a margin of $4.6 million to $1.3 million in donations. Among the more noteworthy contributions to Hochul’s campaign were: (a) nearly $70,000 from EMILY’s List, and (b) approximately $24,000 from her husband’s eventual employer, Delaware North.

Lucrative VP Position at M&T Bank

In 2013, Hochul became Vice President for Government Relations at M&T Bank, where she reportedly earned between $150,000 and $250,000 in 2014.

Successful Campaign for Lieutenant Governor (2014)

On May 21, 2014, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that Hochul would be his running mate (for Lieutenant Governor) in his upcoming gubernatorial re-election bid. Hochul received the support of then-New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, who referred to her as someone who has “not ever been afraid to challenge powerful forces.”

Touting her own “progressive record,” Hochul, in a 2014 video promoting her bid for Lieutenant Governor, emphasized her strong support for the NY SAFE Act, which Governor Cuomo had signed into law in January 2013, and which included: (a) a ban on “assault weapons” and “high capacity” magazines; (b) a mandate for gun-registration; and (c) an expansion of background-check requirements for prospective gun-buyers. In the same video, Hochul voiced her support for the DREAM Act, a Democratic legislative proposal designed to protect massive numbers of illegal aliens from deportation. “I never backed down from our core, Democratic values,” Hochul added in the video: “Pro-choice, pro-marriage equality, and pro-worker values.”

Cuomo and Hochul easily defeated Republicans Rob Astorino and Chris Moss in the November general election, capturing 54.3% of the 3.8 million votes that were cast. Hochul officially replaced departing Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy in January 2015.

Hochul’s Support for Planned Parenthood & Abortion

In a 2015 video ad, Hochul said, “I am proud to stand with Planned Parenthood,” describing it as an “organization [that] has provided quality, confidential healthcare to millions of women across this country.” In the same video, Hochul said it was vital for Americans to join her in supporting Planned Parenthood so that “every woman can have the right to choose.”

At a 2017 “New York State of Women” event, Hochul boasted that New York’s Democrat leaders were “doubling down in our own state to protect reproductive rights, protect Planned Parenthood, and protect access to good healthcare.”

In a 2018 political advertising campaign, Hochul touted herself as a “lifelong champion for Planned Parenthood and a woman’s right to choose.” “Now more than ever,” she emphasized, “New York needs leaders who are 100% personally committed to pass pro-choice laws to protect New York from [President Donald] Trump. Governor Cuomo and I always have been and always will be.”

Lauding Governor Cuomo As a Champion for Women’s Rights

During an October 2016 forum titled “LEADERSHIP: Creating the Future for Women, Leveraging 2020 to Change the Game,” Hochul claimed that Governor Cuomo was “committed to women’s issues,” as evidenced by the fact that New York State had implemented the “toughest laws on sexual assault in the nation, under this governor.”

In her keynote address at a “New York State of Women” event in May 2017, Hochul said, as she gushed over Governor Cuomo: “Our fight for reproductive health, you would think your Governor was a woman himself. Seriously.… He talks about issues that women talk about all the time as well.”

Democrats Challenge Hochul in 2018 Primary

In 2018, socialist Jumaane Williams challenged Hochul in the Democratic Party primary race for Lieutenant Governor. Williams tried to exploit the fact that Hochul had previously come under scrutiny from far-left activists, because of her past support from the National Rifle Association, her financial ties to fossil-fuel corporations, and her former opposition to proposals to permit illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses in Erie County.

But Governor Cuomo came to Hochul’s defense, characterizing her as “a very strong candidate” and stating that many prominent Democrats, including Nancy Pelosi, had been backing her for years.

In September 2018, Hochul defeated Jumaane Williams in the Democratic primary by a margin of 53.4% to 46.6%. She then went on to trounce Republican Julie Killian with 59.6% of the total vote in the November general election for Lieutenant Governor.

Hochul Calls for a Minimum Wage Increase

In 2019, at the National Constitution Center’s 100th anniversary celebration of the passage of the 19th Amendment, Hochul said: “There should be a higher minimum wage. We have a $15 minimum wage in the state of New York. We lift so many people out of poverty by that one move, the majority of whom are women.”

Hochul Defends Her Own Salary Hike

With her salary as Lieutenant Governor set to rise from $190,000 in 2019 to $220,000 by 2021, Hochul defended her forthcoming pay increase. “The executive branch, which I’m part of, had nothing to do with this [decision],” she claimed. “An independent commission studied this, analyzed the length of time between pay increases and what the salaries are elsewhere, and came up with these recommendations.”

Hochul Defends Criminal-Justice Reforms Minimizing the Use of Cash Bail

In 2019, Hochul defended New York’s proposed criminal-justice overhaul which called for a dramatic reduction in the use of cash bail for cases involving a wide array of crimes. When law-enforcement authorities warned that such a measure would cause a massive increase in the number of potentially dangerous lawbreakers walking freely on the streets, Hochul dismissed their concerns:

“I believe they are over-exaggerating the impact and ignoring the fact that for far too long we have had a criminal injustice system where there have been a disproportionate locking up of individuals who simply are behind bars, awaiting their sentencing, awaiting their trial. Now, these are innocent individuals. Simply because they are not wealthy. They don’t have enough money to make bail. It has nothing to do with the severity of the crime.”

Hochul Praises Governor Cuomo’s Handling of the COVID Crisis in NYS

During the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Hochul was noticeably absent from Governor Cuomo’s televised daily press briefings. Nor was she mentioned, at those briefings, in discussions concerning the Cuomo administration’s emergency efforts. Nevertheless, Hochul in an April 2020 interview offered high praise for Cuomo’s handling of the crisis:

“And the Governor, you know, you have, he’s — so proud to have him as your Governor. And we’ve always known that he was a leader in our state, but the rest of the nation is looking. They’re starving for leadership. Someone who will just tell it like it is, you know, ‘don’t sugarcoat it.’ Get out there every single day, seven days a week, say, ‘This is what I know today. I want you to know, at the same time, I know, this is our plan. We’re going to get through this.’ Talk about his, you know, the personal effect that it’s had on him and his family. So he’s extremely relatable. And I think that gives people confidence, and this whole shutdown of our economy and society would not work if people didn’t trust in their government to get it right. And I think it was in that absence of confidence in what was happening in Washington, absolutely in the early days, when we were getting conflicting information about the severity of this, ‘[it’s] going to be gone in a couple of days, ‘it’s only going to be few cases.’ I mean, that if you replay some of those tapes, it’s like no one, no one was allowing us to understand the scale of this — the scope of what we’d be dealing with [in] just [a] matter of days or weeks. So the Governor filled that void, and I think people have appreciated that leadership. But with respect to our relationship with Washington, Governor Cuomo has done everything textbook perfect in terms of managing a complex relationship where there are many times when he’s publicly disagreed with the president and doesn’t pull any punches.”

In the same interview, Hochul alleged that Republican politicians like Senator Mitch McConnell were playing “politics when we [are trying] to protect the lives of all Americans.” When asked about the “disinformation” that President Trump had allegedly been spreading vis-à-vis the pandemic and how it should be dealt with, Hochul suggested: “My advice is to people: if you want to know the straight to truth [sic] every single day, tune into Governor Cuomo, his press conferences, anywhere from 11 to 12, usually 11:30. And you will get the straight facts of at least what’s happening in your home state.”

Notably, Governor Cuomo’s bestselling book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic, which was released in October 2020, made no mention whatsoever of Hochul.

Hochul’s high praise for the manner in which Cuomo was handing the pandemic would ultimately prove to have been highly misplaced, when it was learned that the Governor’s policies had led directly to the unnecessary, COVID-related deaths of many thousands of elderly New Yorkers.

Supporting the Black Lives Matter Movement

In June of 2020, shortly after the infamous May 25 death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Hochul took to Twitter to voice her support for the Black Lives Matter movement. “I realize that my voice is not the important one right now,” she wrote in the tweet. “I’m here to listen, and will use my platform to help promote other voices speaking up against systematic racism and injustice. Black lives matter.”

Legalizing Cannabis

In January 2021, Hochul indicated that New York State would legalize cannabis for recreational use because “we need the money” that sales of the drug would generate – funds which could be used, in turn, to rein in a budget deficit that, by the Lieutenant Governor’s telling, had grown enormously as a result of massive expenditures on COVID-19 relief. Hochul also revealed her intent to use the proceeds from marijuana taxes to underwrite a “cannabis equity fund,” whose purpose would be to pay reparations to nonwhite minorities who had been adversely affected by the War on Drugs. In a similar spirit, nonwhites seeking to enter the new cannabis industry would be given preference over whites, Hochul explained: “[We] want to make sure that communities of color will understand exactly what’s involved in applying for these licenses as soon as they’re available. We’ve had an unjust system for so long, so we’re really excited about getting this passed as part of the budget. Once we do, we’ll join the other states that are finally enlightened enough to realize that this should be legalized.”

Hochul Becomes Governor After Cuomo Resigns in Disgrace

Following Andrew Cuomo’s resignation due to sexual-harassment allegations filed by female former staffers, Hochul became Governor of New York on August 24, 2021. Upon taking office, she stated: “No one will ever describe my administration as a toxic work environment.” (Note: If Hochul wished to remain in office beyond the date on which Cuomo’s term as Governor had originally been slated to expire, she would have to run in the regularly scheduled gubernatorial election of November 2022.)

Potential Conflicts of Interest Involving Hochul’s Husband & Daughter-in-Law

Hochul’s ascendancy to the governorship of New York raised concerns over potential conflicts of interest. As CNN reported: “Hochul is … facing early questions about a potential conflict of interest concerning her husband, William Hochul Jr., the general counsel and senior vice president at hospitality and gambling giant Delaware North, a [hospitality and casino] company with significant business before the state. In her new job, Hochul controls New York’s Gaming Commission, which regulates a large and growing gambling market.”

John Kaehny, executive director of the good-government group Reinvent Albany, offered his own thoughts regarding this potential ethics dilemma: “Kathy Hochul, who had no power as Lieutenant Governor to really influence things, will have all the power as Governor to be able to greenlight and influence deals between state regulators and state agencies and public authorities and Delaware North. Bottom line: She’s in a place to make Delaware North a ton of money if she was so inclined, by granting them favorable treatment and putting her thumb on the scale.”

When CNN’s Jake Tapper asked Hochul to comment on the matter in August 2021, the new Governor stated that she had sought the advice of “outside ethics experts to come up with an ironclad policy, so no one will ever question that there’s any involvement with my husband in anything pertaining to the state of New York.” “My husband was a federal prosecutor for 30 years,” she added. “So even when I was in Congress, we’re well-accustomed to keeping our work very separate. He served as Barack Obama’s U.S. attorney for eight years. So no one can touch the integrity with [sic] which we have brought to our positions in the past and currently.”

At the same time, Hochul’s daughter-in-law, Christina Hochul, was employed as a lobbyist and a director of federal policy for a prominent, Massachusetts-based pharmaceutical company called Biogen, which had actively sought to influence policymakers at both the state and federal levels of government. As CNBC.com reported in August 2021: “The company develops therapies that aim to combat Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis and spinal muscular atrophy…. The company has been involved with a recent lobbying campaign in New York. State lobbying disclosure reports show that between January and June, Biogen paid $20,000 for Harter Secrest & Emery to engage with state lawmakers on multiple bills. The disclosure report shows that the lobbyists Biogen hired targeted leaders in the state Senate on ‘potential legislation related to Alzheimer’s disease.’”

Hochul Raises Enormous Sums for Her Gubernatorial Campaign

By January 2022, Hochul had raised nearly $22 million in campaign funds for the upcoming gubernatorial election in November. Among her most notable donors were multi-millionaires and -billionaires from a wide array of industries.

Hochul Praises NYS Criminal-Justice-Reform Policies

On March 23, 2022, the New York Daily News published an op-ed co-authored by Governor Hochul and Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin, in which they lauded the criminal-justice-related policy changes that New York State had enacted in recent years. Some key excerpts:

In 2019, the state Legislature enacted landmark reforms to our bail laws. The goal of these changes was to overhaul a system where race and access to money all too often determined whether defendants would be locked up before facing trial. These disparate outcomes, which disproportionately impacted Black and Brown communities, were not only fundamentally unjust, but undermined trust in our criminal justice system.

The reforms were successful: Fewer New Yorkers are kept behind bars just because they can’t pay, and we’ve saved taxpayer dollars in the process.

Still, since the law was passed, we have seen a distressing increase in shootings and homicides. The data does not, however, suggest that bail reform is the main cause: In New York City, the percentage of people who are arraigned and released for gun crimes who go on to be rearrested has barely changed since bail reform took effect, from 25% before bail reform to 27%, according to an analysis from the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services. Outside of New York City, that percentage went from 20% to 22%.

Similarly, the percentage of shooting arrests in New York City where the defendant had an open felony charge has hovered around 25% for years, though it crept up from 24% in 2019 to 28% in 2021, according to NYPD data.

Blaming bail reform for the increase in violence that cities across America are facing isn’t fair and isn’t supported by the data. Doing so risks distracting us from what are likely far more significant factors: upheaval from the pandemic, the availability of illegal guns, increased gang activity, lower arrest rates and a backed-up court system, to name a few. […]

We should also make it easier for people who have served their time to reenter society successfully. That’s why we are proud to have enacted ‘Less Is More’ legislation, so that individuals are not imprisoned for technical parole violations, and why we have proposed allowing people behind bars to participate in the state’s Tuition Assistance Program, so that they can come out of prison with more education and skills than when they went in.

Hochul’s Lieutenant Governor Resigns in Disgrace

On April 12, 2022, Hochul’s new Lieutenant Governor, Brian Benjamin, resigned just months into his term of office amid a federal indictment for corruption and campaign-finance violations. Reported the New York Post that same day: “Prosecutors outlined their case during an afternoon press conference in Lower Manhattan, which alleged that Benjamin used his power as a state Senator to arrange a $50,000 grant for a non-profit controlled by a real estate developer in trade for thousands in campaign contributions.” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams, Manhattan’s top federal law-enforcement official, put it this way: “Taxpayer money for campaign contributions, a quid pro quo, this for that. That’s bribery, plain and simple.”

Hochul Blames Mass Shooting on “Racism” & “White Supremacy”

On May 18, 2022 – in the wake of a recent mass shooting in which an 18-year-old white man had killed 10 African Americans in Buffalo, New York — Hochul announced plans to create a new police unit that would, among other things, combat “hate speech.” “We’re proposing a comprehensive plan to combat domestic terrorism, strengthen state gun laws, & investigate social media platforms promoting violent extremism,” the Governor tweeted. “In wake of the racist act of terror in Buffalo, New York will lead the charge to confront this epidemic head-on.” In a lengthier statement, Hochul said:

“The horrific and despicable act of terror committed by a white supremacist this past weekend in Buffalo showed that we as a country are facing an intersection of two crises: the mainstreaming of hate speech — including white nationalism, racism and white supremacy — and the easy access to military-style weapons and magazines. This is a wake-up call and here in New York we are taking strong steps to directly address this deadly threat. Today, I issued Executive Orders to devote substantial resources and focus toward combating the troubling surge in domestic terrorism by identifying radicalized individuals and tracking their threats amplified on social media, and further empower State Police to keep guns away from dangerous people. I am also issuing a referral letter to the Attorney General to investigate social media’s role in the Buffalo shooting, and am calling for the passage of several pieces of legislation that will help law enforcement get more guns off the street. We will continue to confront this epidemic head-on, stamp out extremists who threaten our communities, strengthen the toughest gun laws in the country and do whatever it takes to keep New Yorkers safe.”

Hochul Wins Democratic Primary (2022)

Hochul easily won the Democratic gubernatorial primary with 67% of the vote in June 2022, trouncing her two major challengers: New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams and outgoing U.S. House Representative Thomas Suozzi.

Hochul’s Words & Executive Actions Following Her Primary Victory

After winning her party’s gubernatorial nomination in June 2022, Hochul continued to govern as a committed leftist. Below is a sampling of some of the noteworthy laws and statements for which she was responsible during mid-2022. The quoted passages were all taken from the Governor.ny.gov website:

1) Governor Hochul Announces SUNY Chosen Name and Pronoun Policy to Create More Open and Accepting Environments on Campuses:

On June 8, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that the State University of New York Board of Trustees directed all 64 SUNY campuses to update their policies regarding the use of a chosen name and pronouns to ensure that transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary students’ identities are fully reflected and represented in campus systems. This historic change is the next step taken in SUNY’s mission to create a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment for students within the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Said Hochul regarding the measure: “Every person, regardless of their gender identity or the name they choose to go by, deserves to have identity documentation that reflects who they are.”

2) Governor Hochul Announces LGBTQ+ Progress Pride Flag Flown Over New York State Capitol in Honor of Pride Month 2022:

On June 10, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that LGBTQ+ Progress Pride Flags were raised for the first time over the New York State Capitol as part of the New York State 2022 celebration of Pride Month.”

Said Hochul on the occasion: “The historic raising of the Progress Pride Flag over New York State’s Capitol stands as a symbol of our solidarity with members of the LGBTQ+ community, serving as a visible reminder that the people of New York hear and respect their voices. I am humbled to honor their achievements during Pride month, and will continue to stand with them in the fight for justice and equality.”

3) Governor Hochul Signs Nation-Leading Legislative Package to Protect Abortion and Reproductive Rights for All:

On June 13, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated that the various bills in this package would: (a) “allow individuals to bring a claim against someone who has sued them or brought charges against them for facilitating, aiding, or obtaining reproductive health or endocrine care services in accordance with New York State Law”; (b) “ai[m] to provide certain legal protections for abortion service providers, those who assist someone else in obtaining an abortion, or individuals who self-manage an abortion”; (c) “prohibit[t] professional misconduct charges against healthcare practitioners on the basis that such healthcare practitioner, acting within their scope of practice, performed, recommended or provided reproductive healthcare services for a patient who resides in a state where such services are illegal”; (d) “prohibit[t] medical malpractice insurance companies from taking any adverse action against an abortion or reproductive healthcare provider who performs an abortion or provides reproductive healthcare that is legal in the state of New York on someone who is from out of state”; and (e) “allo[w] reproductive healthcare services providers, employees, volunteers, patients, or immediate family members of reproductive healthcare services providers to enroll in the State’s address confidentiality program to protect themselves from threats.”

Said Hochul regarding the legislative package: “The women of New York will never be subjected to government mandated pregnancies. Not here. Not now. Not ever. Today, we are taking action to protect our service providers from the retaliatory actions of anti-abortion states and ensure that New York will always be a safe harbor for those seeking reproductive healthcare. New York has always been a beacon for those yearning to be free. And I want the world to hear — loud and clear — that will not change.”

4) Governor Hochul Issues Proclamation for Juneteenth Observance:

On June 17, 20-22, the Governor.ny.gov website stated that: “Governor Kathy Hochul today issued a proclamation in observance of Juneteenth, and also announced that the red, black, and green Black Liberation Flag would be raised over the New York State Capitol on Sunday June 19 and Monday June 20, and that State landmarks will be illuminated red, black, and green on Sunday June 19.”

Said Hochul’s  proclamation: “Arriving just over a month after the horrific, racist shootings in Buffalo, this year’s Juneteenth observance is an opportunity to reflect and heal as we commemorate the emancipation of enslaved Africans and their descendants in this country. In recognition of the Black community’s persistent and intergenerational resistance to institutional oppression, I have directed the Black Liberation Flag to be flown over the state Capitol this year to signify New Yorkers’ solidarity in the struggle against the senseless violence and discrimination inflicted upon Black communities, families, and individuals.”

5) Governor Hochul Announces Major Progress Toward Advancing Equity in Cannabis:

On June 22, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced next steps toward advancing equity in New York’s growing cannabis industry. Today’s announcement includes the selection of Social Equity Impact Ventures, LLC, a premier minority-led investment team, to sponsor and manage the $200 million New York Social Equity Cannabis Investment Fund…. Hochul also announced the appointment of new nonwhite members to New York’s Cannabis Advisory Board.”

Said Hochul regarding these measures: “Today, New York takes an important step forward in creating jobs and opportunity for those who, historically, have been disproportionately targeted for cannabis infractions.”

6) Governor Hochul Signs Legislation in Honor of LGBTQ+ Pride Month and Empowers New York State Agencies to Provide More Support to LGBTQ+ New Yorkers:

On June 26, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated that Hochul had just signed two bills honoring LGBTQ+ Pride Month. One of those bills established the formation of the Lorena Borjas Transgender Wellness and Equity Fund “to support organizations that provide critical services for the transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary community.” The other would “add a non-binary gender X to the potential options for gender designations in elected positions that require that the elected people be of varying genders,” thereby “ensur[ing] that non-binary New Yorkers can fully participate in our democratic system.” Additionally, said Governor.ny.gov, Hochul had “called for New York State landmarks to be illuminated in the colors of the LGBTQ+ pride flag and the transgender flag on varying nights until the end of Pride month, demonstrating our state’s solidarity with the LGBTQ+ community.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “New York is the birthplace of the LGBTQ+ rights movement and has always been the leader in advancing equality and justice for LGBTQ+ Americans, but elected officials in other states are using their powers to take those rights away. Today, I am proud to sign legislation that further advances equality and equity for the LGBTQ+ community. By establishing funds and addressing inequities experienced by gender non-conforming and non-binary New Yorkers, we can ensure that our state truly is a safe and affirming place for everyone and that the voices of all are heard.”

7) Governor Hochul Signs Landmark Legislation to Strengthen Gun Laws and Bolster Restrictions on Concealed Carry Weapons in Response to Reckless Supreme Court Decision:

On July 1, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated that the bills in this legislative package were designed to: “restric[t] the carrying of concealed weapons in list of sensitive locations”; “institut[e] a default of no concealed carry on private property and businesses unless deemed permissible by property owners”; establis[h] new eligibility requirements and expan[d] disqualifying criteria for those seeking concealed carry permits”; “enhanc[e] safe storage requirements [and] exten[d] [those] requirements to vehicles”; “requir[e] background checks for all ammunition purchases”; “amen[d] body armor purchase ban to include hard body armor”; “allo[w] the state to regulate and standardize training for license applicants”; and “creat[e] a statewide license and ammunition database.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “A week ago, the Supreme Court issued a reckless decision removing century-old limitations on who is allowed to carry concealed weapons in our state — senselessly sending us backward and putting the safety of our residents in jeopardy. Today, we are taking swift and bold action to protect New Yorkers…. I am proud to sign this landmark legislative package that will strengthen our gun laws and bolster restrictions on concealed carry weapons…. I will continue to do everything in my power to combat the gun violence epidemic.”

8) Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Protect Rights of Public Benefit Recipients and Strengthen Access to Social Services:

On July 15, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced she signed a legislative package of two bills that will protect the rights of New Yorkers who receive public benefits and strengthen access to social services. These two bills will increase transparency on the rights of those applying to receive … food assistance [as well as other types of] emergency assistance.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “As New Yorkers continue to recover from the economic pains of the [COVID-19] pandemic, it is critical that we ensure that public assistance programs are properly serving our most vulnerable communities. These bills will educate people across the state on their rights when receiving social services and ensure that families don’t struggle to put food on the table. I am proud to take important steps to protect and empower New Yorkers who receive public assistance because nobody deserves to experience food or childcare insecurity, homelessness, or any other life-threatening stresses.”

9) Governor Hochul Announces New Online Process for New Yorkers to Choose an “X” Gender Marker on Driver License or ID:

On August 4, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced that individuals who have a New York State driver license, learner permit, or non-driver ID can use a new online process to choose ‘X’ as a gender marker without visiting a Department of Motor Vehicles office. New Yorkers can go to the DMV website to change their gender marker to ‘X’, making it faster and easier to get an identity document that accurately represents who they are.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “I am excited to announce this historic change that represents another victory in our fight to help ensure equality and respect for the LGBTQ+ community. In New York, we are taking action to help ensure every person feels welcomed, represented, and free to live their truth, regardless of their gender identity or expression. My administration continues to be committed to this dream by giving New Yorkers the freedom to carry an identity document that represents their true self, ensuring that New York is a place of value, love and belonging.”

10) Governor Hochul Signs Legislative Package to Promote Greater Fairness and Restore Dignity for Justice-Involved Individuals:

On August 8, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today signed a legislative package to promote greater fairness and restore dignity for individuals that have been affected by the criminal justice system. New legislation will help parolees maintain their jobs or pursue education and training opportunities by expanding the hours that parolees can attend required community supervision programs to non-working hours. Additionally, new legislation will reduce harmful stigma against incarcerated people by correcting outdated terminology used to refer to incarcerated individuals in state law…. [One of the bills] replaces instances of the word ‘inmate’ in state law with ‘incarcerated individual.’  Individuals impacted by the criminal justice system have long noted that terms such as felon, inmate, prisoner, and convict dehumanize individuals and perpetuate the idea that incarcerated people should be permanently demonized and stigmatized. This language change within state law will reduce stigma against people involved in the criminal justice system and therefore eliminate barriers to opportunities that they face.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “In New York, we’re doing everything in our power to show that justice and safety can go hand-in-hand. We can make our streets and communities safer by giving justice-involved individuals the chance to complete their rehabilitation program and work at the same time. By treating all New Yorkers with dignity and respect, we can improve public safety while ensuring New Yorkers have a fair shot at a second chance.”

11) Governor Hochul Signs Legislation Aimed at Addressing Economic Inequities Facing Transgender New Yorkers: On August 10, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Hochul today signed legislation … that will direct the Department of Labor to conduct a study on the statewide employment rate of trans individuals in the state, in consultation with the Division of Human Rights. This study will be used to determine whether there is a disparity of employment rates between transgender New Yorkers and other residents in New York State.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “As the birthplace of the movement for LGBTQ+ equality, New York must always push forward to ensure all New Yorkers are treated with dignity and respect. For too long, trans individuals — especially in communities of color — have faced significant obstacles to economic success. That’s unacceptable. Thanks to this new law, New York will be able to study these inequities so we can develop the legislative solutions to eliminate them once and for all.”

12) Governor Hochul Announces Re-launch of #Vaxtoschool COVID-19 Vaccine Effort: On August 17, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the re-launch of #VaxtoSchool, the multi-faceted statewide campaign aimed at increasing COVID-19 vaccination rates among school-aged New Yorkers. The campaign furthers Governor Hochul’s commitment to ensuring equitable access to vaccines, and to make the health and well-being of students, teachers and families a top priority.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “As we prepare for the beginning of the school year and the fall season, it is important that we do all we can to protect our youngest New Yorkers. By breaking down barriers to vaccine access, these partnerships will allow New York State to continue to protect the health and safety of our most vulnerable community members and keep our schools open. The re-launching of our successful #VaxtoSchool campaign will support our Fall Action Plan, and ensure we are getting New Yorkers the resources they need to protect themselves from being seriously ill or hospitalized due to COVID-19.”

13) Governor Hochul Announces $4 Million to Increase Mental Workforce Diversity:

On August 25, 2022, the Governor.ny.gov website stated: “Governor Kathy Hochul today announced $4 million in federal funding to support underrepresented students entering or enrolled in mental health degree programs at State University of New York or City University of New York campuses. Through a partnership with the New York State Office of Mental Health, SUNY and CUNY will each be provided $2 million to support tuition assistance, paid internships, and direct stipends for minority and multilingual students.”

Said Hochul in a statement: “As we continue to strengthen our health care system in New York, we must ensure that we build a diverse and inclusive workforce. This partnership will provide incentives for underrepresented students to enroll or remain in mental health programs — helping diversify our future workforce and ensure that all communities are well-served by our public health care system.”

Hochul Disparages Florida & Its Republican Governor, Ron DeSantis

During an August 10, 2022 bill-signing ceremony at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan, Hochul signed legislation to: “help ensure that New York State schools are properly educating students on the Holocaust”; “requir[e] museums to acknowledge art stolen from the Jewish community during the Nazi era in Europe”; and “requir[e] the Department of Financial Services to publish a list of banks that voluntarily waive fees for Holocaust reparation payments.” In the course of her remarks at the ceremony, the Governor went off-script and used the occasion to deride Republican Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida, whose state had become a top destination for people relocating out of New York in recent years. Said Hochul: “I just want to say to the 1.77 million Jews who call New York home: Thank you for calling New York home. Don’t go anywhere or to another state. Florida is overrated. I shouldn’t say this, but look at the Governor [De Santis]. It starts at the top down.” Hochul then said, “Getting in trouble – gotta stay on script,” as she abruptly segued to her scheduled introduction of Holocaust survivor Celia Kener.

Hochul Exhorts Trump & Other High-Profile Republicans to Leave NYS

At a campaign rally for Democratic congressional candidate Pat Ryan later in August, Hochul encouraged high-profile New York Republicans like former President Donald Trump, congressional candidate Marc Molinaro, and Hochul’s 2022 gubernatorial challenger Lee Zeldin, to leave the state: “The era of Trump, and Zeldin, and Molinaro, [sic] just jump on a bus and head down to Florida where you belong. Okay? Get out of town, get out of town. [Be]cause you don’t represent our values. You are not New Yorkers.” In the same speech, Hochul stated that Democrats like herself were “fighting for democracy” and for keeping the government “out of the hands of dictators.” She also asserted that New York residents who did not favor taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand were “not New Yorkers, because we come from a long line of people who fought for women’s rights that happened here first.”

Hochul Proudly Announces New Gun-Control Regulations

On September 1, 2022, Hochul proudly announced that numerous new gun-control regulations would be taking effect in New York State that day. “This whole concept that a good guy with a gun will stop the bad guys with a gun, it doesn’t hold up,” she said. “And the data bears this out, so that theory is over.”

Hochul’s Positions on Various Key Issues

In a survey of her views regarding various key political issues, Hochul indicated that:

  • all women should have an unrestricted right to abortion-on-demand at any stage of pregnancy – subsidized by taxpayers, in cases of economic hardship;
  • public and private employers alike should be legally required to implement affirmative-action hiring and promotion policies that give preference to African Americans and women, as compensation for historical injustices;
  • the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is an excellent statute that can serve as a strategic stepping stone toward the eventual implementation of a government-run, single-payer healthcare system;
  • Social Security should remain entirely and permanently under federal control, with no movement whatsoever toward any degree of privatization;
  • voucher programs designed to enable low-income parents to send their children to private schools rather than to failing public schools, constitute bad policy because they rob the public schools of vital resources; and
  • voter ID laws are racist and designed to suppress minority voting;

Hochul Defeats Republican Lee Zeldin in 2022 Gubernatorial Election

In November 2022, Hochul defeated Republican challenger Lee Zeldin in the NYS Governor’s race by a margin of 52.9 percent to 47.1 percent.

Hochul Signs Legislative Package Declaring Racism a “Public Health Crisis”

On December 23, 2022, Hochul signed a legislative package of six bills declaring racism a “public health crisis” in NYS and instituting policies to address it. “For far too long, communities of color in New York have been held back by systemic racism and inequitable treatment,” said Hochul. “I am proud to sign legislation that addresses this crisis head-on, addressing racism, expanding equity, and improving access for all.”

One of the six bills in the aforementioned package enacted the Hate Crimes Analysis and Review Act, which provided guidelines by which law-enforcement authorities should collect and report demographic data on the victims and perpetrators of “hate crimes.” Another of the six bills – in light of reports that the incidence of anti-Asian crimes had increased by 361 percent from 2021 to 2022 — required the state to collect additional demographic information “in order to keep a more accurate and relevant public record of Asian-American populations in New York.”

Condemning the Killing of a Mentally Ill Black Man Aboard a Subway Train

On May 1, 2023, a 30-year-old homeless black man named Jordan Neely — who was afflicted with autism and schizophrenia and had a rap sheet that included at least 42 arrests — marched back and forth inside a New York City subway car while he ranted and screamed at the other passengers. At one point, according to a subsequent report by a fellow passenger named Juan Alberto Vasquez, Neely yelled: “I don’t have food, I don’t have a drink, I’m fed up. I don’t mind going to jail and getting life in prison. I’m ready to die.”  Then, as Neely’s actions became increasingly menacing, a white U.S. Marine veteran aboard the train took him down and placed him in a ckokehold — a move that resulted in Neely’s death.

In response to the incident, an outraged Hochul said:

“I do want to acknowledge how horrific it was to view a video of Jordan Neely being killed for being a passenger on our subway trains. I’m really pleased that the district attorney is looking into this matter. As I said, there had to be consequences, and so we’ll see how this unfolds. But his family deserves justice. This [the white Marine veteran] was an individual who took the situation into his own hands. Just looking at that video [which was filmed by the aforementioned Juan Alberto Vasquez], you know it’s wrong. No one has the right to take the life of another person.”

Reparations for Slavery

On June 8, 2023, New York’s state legislature passed a bill calling for the creation of a commission to consider authorizing reparations payments to compensate present-day blacks for the allegedly lingering, negative effects of slavery. The bill was then sent to Governor Hochul for her consideration. “We want to make sure we are looking at slavery and its legacies,” said state Assemblywoman Michaelle Solages. “This is about beginning the process of healing our communities. There still is generational trauma that people are experiencing. This is just one step forward.” According to an Associated Press report: “The New York legislation would create a commission that would examine the extent to which the federal and state government supported the institution of slavery. It would also address persistent economic, political and educational disparities experienced by Black people in the state today.”

Hochul signed the bill into law on December 19, 2023, thereby creating the commission called for by the legislation. Explaining that the bill’s purpose was about “bending the arc of justice,” the governor said: “If this committee can present a viable path forward to helping the descendants of New York slaves and addressing the harms and disparities that exist in education, that exist in healthcare, that exist in the environment, that will lift all of us up.” “What’s hard to embrace,” she added, “is that our state flourished from that slavery. It’s not a beautiful story, but indeed it is the truth. Today, I challenge all New Yorkers to be the patriots and rebuke and not excuse our role in benefitting from the institution of slavery.”

Activist Al Sharpton was among those in attendance at the press conference where Hochul announced her signing of the reparations legislation. “You cannot heal unless you deal with the wounds, and this bill will put a commission together to be healing the wounds,” said Sharpton. “Only those that have seen people marginalized for even raising the issue can understand the historic significance of today.”

Hochul Announces Jobs Program for Illegal Aliens

On August 24, 2023 — at a time when some 380,000 New Yorkers were out of work — Hochul announced the establishment of a new job-assistance program to benefit the scores of thousands of illegal aliens who had settled in her state during recent months. The program authorized New York State’s Department of Labor (DOL) to connect illegals with potential employers.

“Today,” Hochul wrote on Twitter/X, “@NYSLabor is launching a process for asylum seekers to sign up for employment opportunities, so they can quickly find a job after attaining legal work status, and will also unveil a new process for employers to express their interest in hiring work-authorized migrants.” Meanwhile, a press release from Hochul’s office stated: “All asylum seekers with work authorization in New York can now register for assistance here. DOL career experts will work with individuals to assess skills, work history, education, career interests and more, and connect them with employers across the State. Additionally, the New York State Department of Labor launched a portal enabling businesses to inform the State that they would welcome newly-authorized individuals into their workforce.”

Asserting that “this crisis originated with the federal government, and it must be resolved with the federal government,” Hochul stated in an address: “For me, the answer to these two crises — a humanitarian crisis and our workforce crisis — is so crystal clear and common sense. Let them get the work authorizations; let them work; legally, let them work.”

Hochul Announces NYS “Surveillance Efforts” to Monitor “Hate Speech” on Social Media

Addressing the media on November 13, 2023, Hochul, citing a recent rise in antisemitic and anti-Muslim attacks across New York State, said: “It’s painful to me as the governor of this great state — that has been known for its diversity, and how we celebrate different cultures, different religions, different viewpoints — it’s painful to see the cruelty with which New Yorkers are treating each other. Everywhere from college campuses, to our streets, to schools, to playgrounds; even as they’re entering their houses of worship.”

The governor also announced that in response to those alleged attacks, she had “deployed the State Police to protect our synagogues and yeshivas and mosques and any other place that could be susceptible to hate crimes or violence.” Moreover, she explained: “We’re very focused on the data we’re collecting from surveillance efforts – what’s being said on social media platforms. And we have launched an effort to be able to counter some of the negativity and reach out to people when we see hate speech being spoken about on online platforms.”

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