Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s hiring of 13 former staffers from the Obama administration, Hillary Clinton’s presidential bid and other national campaigns is costing state taxpayers $1.5 million a year, state records show.
Some of the hires are being paid not through the governor’s office budget but through state authorities and other entities considered “off budget.”
The top hires include Maria Comella, whose hiring as Cuomo’s chief of staff was announced in April. She is being paid $175,000 a year, according to records obtained under the state Freedom of Information Law. Comella initially had been hired as a consultant to Cuomo to help shape this year’s agenda after working for Republicans in presidential races, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, George W. Bush’s 2004 re-election, as well as Rudolph Giuliani and Arizona Sen. John McCain.
Other hires include Andrew Tillman, a former speechwriter for Obama’s chief of staff. Tillman is being paid $80,000 a year in his state job writing speeches for Cuomo. Jen Darley, who was the national lead advance staffer for the Hillary for America Campaign, is now paid $110,000 as Cuomo’s assistant director of executive operations, records show.
Such hiring of staff from outgoing adminstrations or failed campaigns isn’t uncommon. Cuomo’s hiring comes as he prepares his 2018 re-election campaign and as some supporters urge him to run for president in 2018.