Bill Samuels to Andrew Cuomo: Drop Your Support of Republican Redistricting

Bill Samuels to Andrew Cuomo: Drop Your Support of Republican Redistricting
Samuels FOILs Cuomo’s Role in Developing Ballot Language for November, and Says Cuomo Can’t Call Himself a Democrat if He Continues to Stand with Republicans on Redistricting
New York, NY- Bill Samuels, a top Democratic activist who founded EffectiveNY, today called on Governor Cuomo to withdraw his support for a Republican redistricting amendment that was written after Cuomo refused in 2010 to help the Democrats regain a majority in the State Senate.

Gerrymandering is a huge problem across the country, and Samuels emphasized that Cuomo has the opportunity to deliver national leadership and real reform, after years of siding with Republicans.

“During a series of meetings this spring, I personally told Larry Schwartz and other Cuomo aides that the Governor needs to break from Republicans on redistricting and show a firm commitment to a Democratic State Senate. They haven’t listened, and now I am going public with this campaign,” said Samuels, who signaled in June that he would focus this fall on defeating the redistricting amendment.

The blunt challenge from Samuels to Cuomo today comes amid growing criticism of state ballot language proposed for this November that misleadingly describes the redistricting commission as independent, when in fact it is a powerless advisory committee controlled entirely by the legislature.

“If Andrew Cuomo wants to regain his standing and legitimacy as a Democrat, he must immediately drop his support for the Republican redistricting amendment and admit that he was wrong to help develop it in the first place. If Cuomo continues to stand with the Republicans on redistricting, he cannot credibly call himself a Democrat. It’s that simple. I am deeply concerned that Cuomo and his senior staff pressured the Board of Elections to rubber stamp ballot language that is favorable to Skelos and the Republicans,” said Samuels, who earlier this year urged Cuomo to run for re-election as a Republican.

This morning, Samuels is filing a FOIL request for all communications from January 1 through August 15, 2014 between commissioners of the New York State Board of Elections and the Office of the Governor, regarding the use of the word “independent” to describe the
redistricting commission, and the exclusion of any description of what is in fact a highly partisan process: under the Republican amendment, redistricting defaults to the legislature if the commission fails to produce a plan approved by legislation.

The FOIL (attached to this email press release) covers all communications made using phone, email, Blackberry PIN, and personal cellphones, and it focuses on the role of Governor’s senior staff, especially the role of Lawrence Schwartz.
“A real independent redistricting commission in New York would function very differently than what Cuomo and the Republicans have envisioned. Independent redistricting commissions in California and several other states around the country don’t have to answer to the legislature. They are completely autonomous,” said Samuels.

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