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Hochul and husband have potential conflict-of-interest

Aug 12, 2021 1:01 pm

Stephen T. Watson reports in the Buffalo News that Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul's husband will not step down as a top executive with a Buffalo-based concessions and gambling corporation that does business with the state, even as she becomes governor. William J. Hochul Jr. was hired by Delaware North in 2016 after Hochul became Lt. Gov. and as senior vice president and general counsel managing legal, regulatory, and compliance matters. Delaware North is downplaying the possible conflicts of interest between the woman who will soon become governor and her husband. The company oversees the food and retail business at Niagara Falls State Park; concessions at two upstate airports; and management of operations at Hamburg Gaming and a second casino in the Finger Lakes, all regulated by the state. "With her succession as governor of New York state, Delaware North is implementing additional restrictions on Mr. Hochul’s interaction with the company’s business activities in New York state in order to avoid even the appearance of a conflict of interest that could be claimed to exist by virtue of the governor’s private interests deriving from Mr. Hochul’s employment by Delaware North," the company said. "Effective immediately, Mr. Hochul will be precluded from involvement in matters relating to business conducted by Delaware North in New York state in which a New York state government official, department or agency is, or potentially could be, engaged." But that was not enough for everyone. "The conflict of interest exists as long as Bill Hochul is getting paid from this company with such extensive business before the state," said Robert Galbraith, senior research analyst at the Public Accountability Initiative. "The decision to carry this blatant conflict of interest into the Governor's Office is an ignominious start for Kathy Hochul's administration." The governor-in-waiting addressed the issue in one of her first interviews since Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigned Aug. 10. "People should realize that Bill has been a public servant for 30 years, (including) eight years as Barack Obama's United States attorney. And throughout our 37 years of married life, we've both had careers, and we have developed a very strong internal ethics among ourselves about not being involved or discussing each other's professional world, professional work. But with respect to what he does at Delaware North, he will continue to recuse himself from anything to do with state government and they will be examining that policy internally as well." Read more about this story in the Buffalo News.

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