Two Republicans at the top of the state ticket in November demanded Tuesday that state Attorney General Letitia James start an investigation into decisions that led to lucrative state contracts for companies tied to people who donated to Gov. Kathy Hochul's campaign.
"We are standing here today in the capitol of corruption — a place that's become so transactional that Kathy Hochul's donors seem to think they can pay to play," said Michael Henry, Republican candidate for attorney general, during a visit to Albany on Tuesday.
The pair accused James, a Democrat, of neglecting to look into Hochul's practices because they're the same political party, campaigning for the highest state offices in November.
"The message she is sending to everyday New Yorkers: No one is willing to do anything, and that's wrong," Henry said. "Everyday New Yorkers lose faith and trust in their government when they believe that their government is for sale."
Wednesday marks the one-year anniversary of the release of the report that concluded former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple former aides and state employees and was led by James's office.
Paul Rodriguez, the Republican candidate for comptroller running against state Comptroller Tom DiNapoli, also called for James to launch an investigation.
Henry and Rodriguez are calling for state watchdogs to do an investigation on the heels of recent news reports revealing the state granted a multimillion-dollar contract to Medical Answering Services, compared to other bids that lost that were not tied to Hochul's donors; a tax break at Penn Station for a donor's real estate company; and a $637 million contract for COVID-19 test kits to the company of a donor who gave $300,000 to Hochul's campaign.
“As she has always done, the attorney general will be guided by facts and the law, not partisan politics," a spokesperson from James's office said in a statement Tuesday. "While we may be in the middle of campaign season, we will not respond to political calls to investigate candidates, regardless of whether they are Republicans or Democrats. It’s a candidate’s First Amendment right to engage in political theater, but the Attorney General’s Office will not play a part in that show.”
James has spearheaded cases and investigations in the last three years into Democrats Steve Pigeon, Luis Diaz, Mount Vernon Mayor Richard Thomas and Rensselaer County Executive Steve McLaughlin, a Republican.
Rodriguez said the comptroller's office should have reviewed the contracts in question.
"We need action now," he said. "The question remains: Why wasn't this caught earlier?"