A day after claiming that officials in her administration don’t believe in defunding cops, Gov. Kathy Hochul appointed a newcomer who apparently does — a failed New York City Council candidate who wants to slash the NYPD budget by $3 billion.
Last Friday Hochul appointed Amit Bagga to be her deputy secretary for intergovernmental affairs. He lost the City Council primary in June for Queens’ district 26 seat despite support from Democratic Socialist Rep. Alexandria Ocasio Cortez’s political action committee.
Bagga’s archived campaign website, which was taken down last week, says he wants to cut the NYPD’s budget by $3 billion, or about a third, within two to four years.
He also proposed reducing the size of the force by 5 percent, removing cops from public schools and mental health responses, and “decriminalizing all drugs.”
In responses to an online questionnaire from the Jim Owles Democratic Club in January, Bagga wrote: “I strongly believe in the dismantling of the specific type of police state we live in and believe that the police need to get out of most of the businesses of what we consider ‘policing.’”
He added that the criminal justice system is “rooted in the original sin of slavery, and the system itself is weaponized to criminalized, impoverish and murder Black Americas in particular.”
Despite Bagga’s controversial public positions, Hochul claimed Thursday: “We do not support defund the police. No one in my administration does.
“That was a catchphrase that had very negative connotations. And I believe that we have to continue to fund the police in the state to make sure that they can protect, particularly black and brown communities where sadly and tragically, so many black and brown communities are being hardest,” Hochul said at her Manhattan office last week.
She made the remarks after a Post report noted that her new lieutenant governor, Brian Benjamin, tweeted his support for the defund movement in January.
“I support the movement to defund the police because I believe that there are parts of the NYPD budget that are not essential for public safety,” Benjamin wrote at the time.
Bagga, who served in Mayor de Blasio’s administration as the deputy director of the New York City Census office, will be a key aide to Hochul, negotiating on her behalf with officials on the state, city, and local level.
When reached by telephone, Bagga declined to comment.
Nick Langworthy, the state’s GOP chair, blasted Bagga’s appointment.
“In a month’s time, Kathy Hochul has stacked the top levels of her administration with extreme radicals and pave the way for thousands of criminals to be released from jail. She’s so desperate to stave off a primary she’s gone full AOC,” Langworthy said.
Republican Congressman Lee Zeldin, who plans to challenge Hochul in the general election, said “With the appointment of Amit Bagga, Kathy Hochul continues her mission to fill the ranks of her administration with those who want to defund, disband, dismantle or abolish law enforcement, surrender our communities’ streets to criminals and sacrifice the safety of everyday New Yorkers and their families.”
A spokeswoman for Hochul did not return a request for comment on Bagga, but previously told The Post about Benjamin’s anti-cop comments, “Governor Hochul does not support defunding the police.
“In the Hochul Administration, public safety and justice and accountability in policing are not mutually exclusive, and the Governor and Lieutenant Governor are partnering on these priorities,” the rep said.
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