Suozzi announces $5.2M cash on hand for race, calls for investigation into Kathy Hochul’s taxpayer-funded air travel to political events

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Suozzi announces $5.2M cash on hand for race, calls for investigation into Kathy Hochul’s taxpayer-funded air travel to political events
Congressman Tom Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) is running against Governor Kathy Hochul in a Democratic primary later this year. (Photo courtesy of The Island Now archives)

Congressman Tom Suozzi’s campaign announced that he has over $5.2 million cash on hand in the first filing report, days after he called for a probe into whether Gov. Kathy Hochul misused state-owned aircraft to campaign during her gubernatorial run. 

Suozzi, a Democrat who is running against Hochul in a Democratic primary for governor, held a virtual news conference last Thursday from his Glen Cove home to ask state Attorney General Letitia James to launch an investigation into her travel. 

“Open and ethical government, it’s one thing to make a pronouncement,” the former Nassau County executive said. “It’s something else to actually follow up on that. Actions speak louder than words.” 

On Tuesday, Suozzi released his fundraising numbers, which he previously said will prove he is “viable” in this race.

“I think my race is going to demonstrate that I’m viable,” Suozzi said Thursday. “I believe it’s going to be a very credible number and I’ll continue to raise money going forward to have a great campaign to get my message out that I’m a proven executive with a common-sense approach towards governing.”

Of Suozzi’s reported $5,245,224.64 cash on hand, $3,322,790 is made up of contributions toward his gubernatorial run, six weeks after his announcement.  He also transferred $2,101,572.75 from his congressional campaign account. 

According to filings, 87 percent of contributions toward his campaign have come from New York state. 

Since launching her campaign in August, Hochul has raised $21.6 million, a state record for a single filing period. 

Suozzi’s campaign showed a video during the news conference, which has been posted to Twitter, of a clip where Hochul says transparent government will be a hallmark of her administration. A diagram of Hochul’s travel was then shown. 

“Governor Hochul took 45 state aircraft trips in 45 days,” the video said. “They claimed it was ‘state’ business but there were 64 campaign events.”  

According to a report by the Albany Times Union, Hochul’s office was told by a state official that taxpayer-funded trips for campaign events potentially violated state ethics codes. 

According to the governor’s office, other mixed-use flights are being reviewed. 

“Governor Hochul is committed to transparency, accountability, and the highest ethical standards,” said Hochul spokeswoman Hazel Crompton-Hayes. “The governor’s new deputy counsel who oversees ethics is completing a thorough review of all aircraft usage and necessary reimbursements identified thus far have been made, and we are creating additional controls and processes to better ensure consistent adherence to the strictest ethical guidelines.”

Pressing the issue of transparency, Suozzi also called for Hochul to release her full schedule, which as of now has only been published for her first 45 days in office, from Aug. 24 to Oct. 9.

“She hasn’t released her full schedule yet,” said Suozzi, who served two terms as the Nassau County executive. “What she has released shows that she’s been using the state aircraft repeatedly and with very questionable means of using it when she’s got so many different private events that she’s doing.”

As governor, the Congressman said, he will ban the use of state airplanes and helicopters for  nonofficial events. 

A previous version of this article has been updated.

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