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Hochul pledges to recuse herself from state matters involving her husband's firm

Kathy Hochul is sworn in as governor, as her husband Bill Hochul holds a bible under her hand.
Office of the Governor
Kathy Hochul's husband, Bill (right), was at her side when she was sworn in as governor in August.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced a series of steps to improve transparency in state government that overturn many of the policies practiced by her predecessor, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo, who resigned in August over a sexual harassment scandal, was criticized for not following the spirit of the state’s Freedom of Information Laws, which require state officials and agencies to hand over documents requested by the public and the media.

Hochul said FOIL requests will no longer have to be vetted by the governor’s office. That practice led to long delays and denials of the requests, and will instead be carried out expeditiously by state agencies.

The governor — whose husband, William Hochul, is executive vice president and general counsel for hospitality company Delaware North, which lobbies the Legislature — also issued new rules for recusals by top state officials to avoid any potential conflicts of interest.

Delaware North spent more than $360,000 lobbying the Legislature in 2021, according to the website Open Secrets. Hochul has signed documents saying she will recuse herself from any matter before state government that Delaware North is involved in, and she pledged not to use her position to benefit the company’s interests.

The governor also followed through on a previous promise to require live ethics training for all state employees as soon as they are hired, with a refresher course to be taken every three years, or every two years for workers in the governor’s office.

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.