An in-depth look by The New York Times into New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s travel history reveals he overwhelmingly takes his taxpayer-funded planes and helicopters, even for short trips.
Cuomo took 195 trips in state planes and helicopters in 2017, according to state records, with some trips that would have been less than 20 miles by car.
While Cuomo is allowed by law to fly the state-funded aircrafts, he flies them much more often than other governors in big, heavily populated states, according to TheNYT’s review.
In fact, the New York governor flew 50 percent more taxpayer-funded flights than the next closest governor on the list of 10 states.
“The governor uses the plane or helicopter for official events for his work representing the people of New York and he’s not going to serve them any less because of the political calendar,” Dani Lever, the governor’s press secretary, told TheNYT.
Cuomo flew from Belmont Park to Manhattan in December 2017, a trip that would have been less than 20 miles in a car, according to TheNYT. According to the governor’s calendar, his schedule was clear for almost two hours after he arrived back in Manhattan, suggesting there was really no rush or need to use the more convenient way of travel, the report stated.
TheNYT outlined several other instances in which Cuomo opted to use the taxpayer-funded aircrafts instead of driving while under a schedule that was essentially cleared for the day, with just a few phone calls and internal meetings he could have taken while being driven.
Cuomo flew 90 days out of the year in 2017, with some days involving multiple flights, and his office reported 85 of those were on helicopters and 110 were flights on the state airplane. He also claims to have spent 400 hours in the car.
For comparison, Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown of California always flies commercial, unless there’s a state emergency, the report states, and Republican Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas pays for privates planes with campaign funds, even if he’s going to government events.
“To add additional and duplicative costs for commercial flights for the governor, staff and required security would be a waste of taxpayer money,” Lever argued.
One notable flight Cuomo took was in May 2017. (RELATED: De Blasio Used $3M Counter-Terrorism Plane To Get Home From Canada Vacation)
Cuomo flew the state helicopter from Westchester to northern New Jersey for a private breakfast with then-Republican Gov. Chris Christie. TheNYT report notes this meeting was not on Cuomo’s official calendar, but the governor reportedly claimed the trip was for state business.
After the breakfast, Cuomo was driven back to the airport where he then took a helicopter back to Manhattan.
The Tick Tock Diner is only a 13.2-mile drive to Cuomo’s office.
Lever claims the private meeting with Christie “omitted” from the official calendar “due to an oversight.”
She also defended all of the trips and flights, for reasons ranging from the fact that they are “permissible” or more efficient or the planes and helicopters were “already positioned” there.
The Daily Caller News Foundation did not receive an immediate response to a request for comment from Cuomo’s office.
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