Say it ain’t Cuo.
Gov. Cuomo is looking to gut New York’s independent restricting process and lock in permanent control for the ruling Democrats, charges John Faso, a former GOP Assembly minority leader and congressman.
“The redistricting issue is something 99% of the public have no clue about and 99% of the politicians pay acute attention to it,” Faso told The Post, accusing Cuomo of failing to fund an independent redistricting commission created by voters as part of 2014 election reforms.
“Just look at his budget. There is no money in the budget this year for the redistricting commission,” Faso fumed. “The money that was appropriated last year was never released.”
He also accused Democrats who hold super majorities in both the state Senate and Assembly of advancing a Constitutional amendment designed to remove the role of the minority party in redistricting decisions — ensuring Democratic domination of the process.
“I suspect given my experience with New York politics over the last few decades … they’ll pass off the constitutional amendment as some ‘reform,’” Faso said.
The former Congressman first issued his warning publicly in an Op-Ed for the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
Money for the commission is supposed to be supplied by the state-funded SUNY Research Foundation.
Redistricting happens across America every 10 years, as states and localities digest the Census results and use the data to redraw congressional and statewide districts. Partisan redistricting, commonly known as gerrymandering, involves carving out uniquely beneficial districts designed to aid the party in power. The process takes its name from America’s fifth vice president Elbridge Gerry, who pioneered the practice.
New York’s redistricting commission has 10 members, with eight coming from the two major parties, who then chose the other two from smaller parties.
The commission is supposed to produce a proposed district map by Sept. 15, 2021, to be approved by the legislature on Jan 1. If rejected, they would be allowed a second try, but if that is rejected, the legislature would get to make the changes as they see fit.
Independent watchdog groups have echoed Faso’s concerns about the MIA commission funding. Several, including ReInvent Albany, The League of Women Voters and the Center for Law and Social Justice, published a letter last month demanding to know where the cash was.
“The pessimistic reason — which is probably the real reason — is that the legislature and governor want the commission to fail,” Jennifer Wilson, deputy director of the League of Women Voters, told The Post Saturday. “Now that everything is controlled by Democrats, they would rather the whole commission get blown up and they can redraw the map however they see fit.”
Reps for Cuomo insisted they had nothing to do with the matter and said the 10 watchdog critics didn’t understand the issue.
“The whole premise is crazy and wrong,” state Budget Director Robert Mujica said in a statement to The Post, with his team adding that they had provided $1 million for the research foundation in their most recent budget. No funds had previously been allocated last year because the commission’s work is only required one year each decade.
The redistricting issue is particularly important now to Republicans who could face extinction statewide if Democrats engineer a partisan gerrymander of their districts. With a declining population, the state is expected to lose at least one and possibly two House seats in Congress — something Faso fears the GOP will be forced to bear the brunt of.
Team Cuo said Faso was full of it.
“He’s a liar and since he spent decades in Albany, he should know the process,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi told The Post.