It is interesting to watch Congressman Lee Zeldin call out Andrew Cuomo, to seek Cuomo’s resignation and to subsequently pursue the opportunity to run against the embattled governor of our state.
Interesting because, despite his rightful calls for transparency in regards to the nursing home scandal and sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo, Zeldin has consistently and universally failed to call for similar levels of transparency and accountability from criminal political operatives and other bad actors he and/or his party are aligned with.
Let us not forget that several close Zeldin allies are currently serving, preparing to serve, or have served prison time and/or are facing charges for breach of the public trust and other grave official and personal misconduct.
Bear with me, this list is long, but neither comprehensive nor complete:
- Vincent Trimarco, Zeldin’s first law partner, co-founder with Zeldin of the AmPat charity and an early Zeldin political contributor, faces a 20-year sentence after pleading guilty to defrauding a minor of a multi-million dollar settlement received in the wrongful death of a parent.
- Zeldin’s Conservative Party mentor Ed Walsh completed his sentence in 2019 for wire fraud and theft of government services. Let us recall also that Zeldin had to testify at Walsh’s trial about political strategy meetings he had with Walsh at Boston Market in Shirley while Walsh was drawing his salary funded by Suffolk County taxpayers.
- Dean Skelos, the Republican leader of the New York State Senate during Zeldin’s terms, is serving a four year sentence. Skelos was also a Zeldin campaign contributor. Despite repeated calls, Zeldin has refused to return those monies.
- Zeldin’s Republican ex-colleagues in the House, Chris Collins (a fellow member of the New York Congressional delegation) and Duncan Hunter (a key Zeldin ally on veteran’s issues) were both convicted on federal charges of insider trading and misusing campaign funds respectively.
- Zeldin’s campaign has taken at least one maximum personal contribution of $2,800 from Trump campaign official Jason Miller, who has refused to pay support monies to his child conceived during an adulterous affair with a staffer. And after impregnating another woman, Miller laced her smoothie with an abortion pill, terminating her pregnancy and sending her to the hospital for hemorrhaging, according to court documents.
- Republican Rudy Sunderman, Zeldin’s close ally who became the Suffolk County Legislator in the congressman’s home district, has resigned his position in the legislature (while facing perjury charges) to accept a lucrative position in the Suffolk County Fire Academy.
- East Hampton Republican Party Chairman Amos Goodman, Republican operatives William Mann and Gregory Dickerson and Independence Party vice-chair Patricia Mansir were charged in 2018 with multiple counts of forging signatures on nominating petitions, including those of deceased individuals.
- Conservative Party member and Suffolk County legislator Vincent Carracappa is facing charges related to an alleged domestic violence incident.
- Two of Zeldin’s current House colleagues Madison Cawthorn and Ronny Jackson are under scrutiny for sexual misconduct allegations.
In every instance stated, nine different opportunities in all, Lee Zeldin has failed to stand for transparency, to request accountability, to defend the public trust or to advance the interests of his constituents.
He did not call for fulsome investigations of all charges or allegations brought against his colleagues.
He did not ask Republican, Conservative or Independence Party members to immediately resign their positions when facing CRIMINAL charges, let alone allegations of a lack of transparency or creating a toxic work environment.
He does not return campaign monies sourced from convicted felons or from deadbeat dads with a history of sexual misconduct.
Instead, by his silence he has turned and continues to turn a blind eye toward criminal activity, gross misuse of elected office and sexual misconduct (which he claims disqualifies Andrew Cuomo to be Governor) provided they are committed by his political allies or donors.
He has been universally and damningly silent when presented with repeated opportunities to demand transparency and accountability in these matters.
Lee Zeldin is fond of scolding the political left on social media with the cliche about partisan hypocrisy, “Rules for thee, but not for me.”
It is sound advice. He should consider it. He should act on it.
Finally, he and anyone in New York State believing him to be a viable candidate to replace Andrew Cuomo should also consider the warning from Aesop, “A man is known by the company he keeps.”
The truth is Lee Zeldin is Andrew Cuomo: bullying, secretive, self-interested and willing to do whatever is necessary to advance his political career.
The public wants answers from Andrew Cuomo.
If he plans to be governor, Lee Zeldin needs to provide answers also.
Why was he silent then? Why is he silent now?
Steven Kramer is a poet, writer and political activist. He is a lead member of Indivisible North Fork. He lives in Riverhead.
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