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Andrew Mark Cuomo (born December 6, 1957) is the New York State Attorney General. He was elected on November 7, 2006. Previously Cuomo was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under President Bill Clinton between 1997 and 2001.

Background and early career

Cuomo was born in Queens, New Yorkmarker, the elder son of former New Yorkmarker Governor Mario Cuomo and the older brother of ABC News journalist Chris Cuomo. Andrew and his ex-wife, Kerry Kennedy, the seventh child of Robert F. Kennedy and Ethel Skakel Kennedy, have three daughters. The couple announced their separation in 2003 and have subsequently divorced.

He attended Archbishop Molloy High Schoolmarker in Queens, New Yorkmarker, graduating in 1975. He then attended Fordham Universitymarker and received his J.D. from Albany Law School. He was a top aide to his father during his father's 1982 campaign for Governor. He then joined the Governor's staff as one of his father's top policy advisors, a position he filled on and off during his father's 12-year governorship. Cuomo became active in issues affecting the homeless and housing policy in New York during the 1980s and 1990s. He founded a non-profit organization focused on homeless and housing issues, Housing Enterprise for the Less Privileged, or HELP.

During the administration of former New York City Mayor David Dinkins, Cuomo served as Chairman of the New York City Homeless Commission, which was charged with developing policies to address the homeless issue in the city and to develop more housing options.

Political career

Clinton Cabinet position

Andrew Cuomo was appointed to the Department of Housing and Urban Developmentmarker in 1993, as a member of President Bill Clinton's administration. After the departure of Secretary Henry Cisneros at the end of Clinton's first term under a cloud of an FBI investigation, Cuomo succeeded him as HUD Secretary in 1997, serving until 2001 when Clinton's administration ended. In 1998, Cuomo's lauded work in the department garnered speculation that he could challenge Senator Al D'Amato but he ultimately declined, saying that he had more things to revamp in the Department. He was also mentioned as a candidate for U.S. Senator in 2000 but deferred to First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Journalist Wayne Barrett of the Village Voice has said that during his time as HUD Secretary, Andrew Cuomo "gave birth to the mortgage crisis" by pushing for further gains in homeownership.

New York Gubernatorial Campaign 2002

In 2002, Cuomo ran unsuccessfully for the Democratic nomination for the Governor of New York. His running mate was Charles King. Though rival Carl McCall was the favorite of the Democratic establishment, Cuomo initially had more momentum and led in fundraising and polls. A turning point in the campaign was on April 17, 2002, when Cuomo said "Pataki stood behind the leader. He held the leader's coat. He was a great assistant to the leader. But he was not a leader. Cream rises to the top, and Rudy Giuliani rose to the top." The remarks were widely derided, and even his father Mario later admitted it was a mistake.

On the eve of the state convention, he withdrew from its consideration when he concluded that he had little chance of its support as opposed to the favored party candidate, State Comptroller H. Carl McCall.Later, in September 2002, on the all-but-certain defeat that loomed in the state primary, again at the hands of McCall, Cuomo withdrew from the race, but his name remained on the ballot, as it did in the general election, as the Liberal party candidate. In the primary, the withdrawn candidate only received 14% of the vote. And then in the general election, he received about 16,000 votes, out of 2.2 million cast, handing a costly defeat to the Liberal Party, which thereby lost its automatic spot on the New York ballot. McCall, who ran a poor campaign and failed to resonate with voters, was defeated in a landslide by Governor George Pataki.

Campaign for New York Attorney General

Some expected him to run for Governor of New York again, as a candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2006, but Cuomo decided against a run when New York State Attorney General Eliot Spitzer entered the race in late 2004. Cuomo declared his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for New York State Attorney General in 2006, and on May 30, 2006, captured the Democratic Party's endorsement, receiving 65 percent of the delegates' votes. Though Cuomo won the endorsement, former New York City Public Advocate Mark J. Green, Charlie King, a two-time candidate for lieutenant governor, and Sean Patrick Maloney, a former aide to President Clinton, also earned places on the Democratic primary election ballot.King dropped out of the race before the primary and endorsed Cuomo.

Cuomo won the primary with a majority of the vote, defeating his nearest opponent by over 20%. He won the general election against the Republican nominee, former Westchestermarker DA Jeanine Pirro on November 7, 2006, winning 58%-40%, the closest statewide race that year. Cuomo won New York Citymarker in a landslide, and did quite well upstate, defeating Pirro in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, and Albany areas, as well as in Westchester and Rockland counties. Cuomo only narrowly defeated Pirro on Long Islandmarker.

Notable Work as Attorney General

Police surveillance by the Governor's Office

On July 23, 2007, Cuomo's office admonished the Spitzer administration for ordering the State Police to keep special records of then-Senate majority leader Joseph L. Bruno's whereabouts when he traveled with police escorts in New York City.At the direction of top officials of the Spitzer administration, the New York State Police created documents meant to cause political damage to Bruno.The governor's staff had stated they were responding to a Freedom of Information request from the Albany Times-Union in late June.A scathing 57-page report issued by the Attorney General's office concluded that Spitzer aides did not simply produce records, as the state Freedom of Information Law requires, but were instead engaged in planning and producing media coverage concerning Senator Bruno's travel on state aircraft before any FOIL request was made.

The investigation looked into both Bruno's travel and the senate leader's allegation that Spitzer used State Police to spy on him. A year long investigation and a 57 page report was drawn up by AG Cuomo's office and leaked by Democratic State operatives (though not tied to AG Cuomo's office) to the Spitzer Group that has since been charged with numerous felonies involving illegal use of state positions and resources, to smear Senator Bruno, one of New York State's "three men in a room".It also suggests that the governor's staff lied when they tried to explain what they had done and forced the State Police to go far beyond their normal procedures in documenting Mr. Bruno's whereabouts.

The report cleared Bruno of any misuse of the state's air fleet, which had been alleged.The report criticized Spitzer's office for using State Police resources to gather information about Bruno's travel and releasing the information to the media.New York Republican State Committee Chairman Joseph Mondello claimed that "Today's explosive report by Attorney General Andrew Cuomo validates the frightening charges that Governor Spitzer's administration abused the New York State Police and New York's F.O.I.L. laws in an attempt to set up Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno"and that "This disturbing abuse of power by a Governor is unprecedented."The findings of the report were endorsed by Spitzer's own Inspector General, Kristine Hamann.

Spitzer responded at a July 23 press conference that "As governor, I am accountable for what goes on in the executive branch and I accept responsibility for the actions of my office"and that his administration had "grossly mishandled"the situation.The Governor issued an apology to Senator Bruno and stated that "I apologized to Senator Bruno and I did so personally this morning […] In addition, I apologized to the men and women of the State Police, and to acting Superintendent Preston Felton personally for allowing this esteemed institution to be drawn into this matter."Felton said he didn't realize he was part of a political scheme, and claimed in a written statement that "I have never, in my 26-year career with the state police, knowingly undertaken any such action and never would […] To the extent that circumstances previously not known to me have now given rise to that appearance, I am particularly saddened."

Spitzer subsequently announced that he would indefinitely suspend his communications director, Darren Dopp, and reassign another top official.When questioned about his promise to bring a new dawn of ethical responsibility to state politics, Spitzer responded by saying "I will not tolerate this behavior […] ethics and accountability must and will remain rigorous in my administration",and that "I have always stated that I want ethics and integrity to be the hallmarks of my administration. That is why I requested that the State Inspector General review the allegations with respect to my office, and that is why we have fully cooperated with both inquiries."As of July 2007, Cuomo's office was considering recommending disciplinary action against the Governor's office.

Student Loan Inquiry

In 2007, Cuomo has been active in a high profile investigation into lending practices and anti-competitive relationships between student lenders and universities. Specifically, many universities steered student borrowers to "preferred lender" which resulted in those borrowers incurring higher interest rates. This has led to changes in lending policy at many major American universities. Many universities have also rebated millions of dollars in fees back to affected borrowers.

The Safety of Facebook

Andrew Cuomo has spoken out against Facebook, saying that it is not safe enough for minors.

"My office is concerned that Facebook's promise of a safe web site is not consistent with its performance in policing its site and responding to complaints," Cuomo stated on September 25, 2007. "Parents have a right to know what their children will encounter on a web site that is aggressively marketed as safe."

Cuomo cites an investigation by the Office of Attorney General which discovered "deficiencies that stand in contrast to the reassuring statements made on the web site and by company officials." This investigation found numerous occurrences of other users approaching undercover Facebook accounts for adult reasons, as well as lewd or pornographic Facebook groups that users under 18 were allowed to join.

Capital punishment

Andrew Cuomo strongly opposes the death penalty.


In the August 5, 2008 issue of The Village Voice, Wayne Barrett argued that Andrew Cuomo made a series of decisions as Secretary of HUD between 1997 and 2001 that helped give birth to the country's current credit crisis:

"He took actions that—in combination with many other factors—helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments.
He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded "kickbacks" to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans.
Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why."

On November 7, 2007, as part of his probe into the mortgage industry as New York Attorney General Cuomo announced subpoenas for Freddie Mac (FRE) and Fannie Mae (FNM) requesting the companies retain an independent examiner to review mortgages and appraisals. Cuomo sued First American Corporation (FAF) and its eAppraiseIT unit for allegedly colluding with Washington Mutual to use a list of select appraisers to inflate mortgage appraisals. Washington Mutual stock responded with a sharp decline. CNBC'smarker Jim Cramer labeled Cuomo a “communist” who "wants to shut down the mortgage market."

On June 10, 2008, Cuomo, then New York Attorney General, announced that three major Internet service providers (Verizon Communications, Time Warner Cable, and Sprint) would "shut down major sources of online child pornography" by no longer hosting many Usenet groups. Time Warner Cable ceased offering Usenet altogether, Sprint no longer provides access to the alt.* hierarchy, and Verizon limiting its Usenet offerings to the Big 8. The moves came after Cuomo's office located 88 different newsgroups that contained child pornography. Barry Steinhardt, director of the American Civil Liberties Union's technology and liberty program, compared the action to "taking a sledgehammer to an ant."

United States Senate

See also: Possible appointment choices for the New York Senate seat
After Hillary Rodham Clinton became Barack Obama's choice for the position of U.S. Secretary of State, Governor David Paterson was charged with appointing a temporary replacement until a special election in 2010 for the conclusion of her Class 1 seat. Cuomo was seen as a leading contender for this appointment (in fact, his name was first mentioned dating back to the 2008 Presidential primaries). Caroline Kennedy (the first cousin of Cuomo's ex-wife) was another leading contender, but withdrew for personal reasons two days before Paterson was set to announce his choice, leaving Cuomo and Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand as the most likely appointees.. On January 24, Paterson announced he was naming Gillibrand to the Senate.

Possible 2010 Gubernatorial Campaign

There has been widespread speculation that Andrew Cuomo may run for Governor of New York in 2010. On September 18, 2009, advisors to President Barack Obama informed Paterson that the President believed Paterson should withdraw his 2010 gubernatorial candidacy, stepping aside for "popular Attorney General Andrew Cuomo."

Personal life

Cuomo was raised in an Italian-American family in Queens. He was married to Mary Kerry Kennedy, the seventh child of Robert F. Kennedy, for 13 years. They have 3 children together, Cara, Michaela and Mariah, and were separated in 2003 and divorced in 2005. He is dating Food Network star Sandra Lee.

2006 New York State Democratic ticket

During the 2008 presidential campaign, Republican nominee John McCain mentioned on a 60 Minutes interview that should he become president, he would strongly consider selecting Cuomo as chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Favorable ratings

Poll Source Dates Administered Favorable Unfavorable
Quinnipiac May 13, 2009 51% 13%
Quinnipiac April 6, 2009 63% 17%
Quinnipiac February 17, 2009 63% 15%
Quinnipiac January 14, 2009 57% 10%
Quinnipiac December 23, 2008 55% 11%


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