By Gregory Krieg, CNN
Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday announced plans to create a new political action committee dedicated to helping “elect the right people to office.” He also revealed plans to form an organization focused on gun violence issues.
The eight-minute video, in which Cuomo speaks straight to the camera, is his clearest response yet to questions surrounding his political future. It is also his first concrete statement on a plan of action after months of innuendo and speculation, much of which came from within his own circles.
“I am starting a political action committee to elect the right people to office,” Cuomo said. “We do not need more panderers. We need producers. We need people committed to fight for change and who get results.”
Cuomo resigned from office in August 2021, a week after New York state Attorney General Letitia James’ office released the findings of an investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against him. Since then, Cuomo has sought to undermine the report, which corroborated 11 accusations from women who worked in or around state government, and recently filed an ethics complaint against James.
The video also featured familiar criticism of social media, which he has often blamed for fueling the backlash the led to his resignation, which effectively halted state lawmakers’ plans to impeach and remove him from office.
“It’s a Twitter mob, but the mob has power and many politicians and press are afraid to challenge it lest the mob turn on them,” Cuomo said.
Charlotte Bennett, a one-time Cuomo staffer and among the first of his accusers, recently filed a federal lawsuit accusing the former governor of sexual harassment and discrimination. (Cuomo has denied wrongdoing throughout the scandals that enveloped his office.)
Cuomo’s introduction of his “Gun Safe America Project” came with a criticism of Democrats in Washington for not putting an assault weapons ban up for a vote in the Senate. He acknowledged the body’s recently passed bipartisan gun legislation, but pointed to its limits and said Democrats — in what could be viewed as a jab at Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, one of many top New York politicians to call for Cuomo to resign last year — needed a “new approach” on the issue.
“President Biden gave a speech a couple of weeks ago saying he was determined to pass an assault weapons ban, but the Senate just passed the gun bill and it had no ban and it had no capacity limits,” Cuomo said. “The Democrats wouldn’t even put the bill banning assault rifles on the floor with Democrats united in support to show that the Republicans are stopping passage. At least then we could frame the issue for the American people. We need a new approach and I have some ideas.”
Some of those opinions, Cuomo continued, will be shared via a forthcoming weekly podcast that he will host.
“This forum will be different. My intention is to speak the full truth, unvarnished, from the inside out, frank and candid,” he said. “As a person who’s been in the room many times for many years and knows these people and knows their games, and as a person who actually did the job.”
Rich Azzopardi, Cuomo’s spokesman, told CNN that the new PAC and gun group would operate “separately.” Asked whether the PAC planned to spend ahead of the November midterms, Azzopardi demurred and said they will release “more info in the coming days.” Cuomo left office with nearly $20 million in campaign funds; the total, as of earlier this year, was closer to $16 million.
Throughout the video, Cuomo repeated a litany of grievances with the political environment that, in his view, unfairly made his position untenable and forced him out of the governorship.
“The heated rhetoric of the extreme minority dominates the dialogue — defund this, condemn those, cancel that, lock out them and do it now, right now,” Cuomo said.
The former governor also discussed the challenges facing the American public right now, reciting concerns that have dominated the ongoing campaign.
“People are really anxious. They’re worried,” he said. “Inflation through the roof, gas prices skyrocket. The stock market plummets. Crime and homelessness are worse than ever before in many cities.”
Cuomo also mentioned Puerto Rico, Ukraine, China and North Korea.
He did not, in his remarks, discuss the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade or abortion rights, which has emerged as a central issue in high stakes contests around the country.
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