During a heated, personal debate in Hempstead, N.Y., on Wednesday night, Governor Andrew Cuomo accused his gubernatorial primary challenger Cynthia Nixon of exploiting the very “tax loopholes” she claims to oppose.
“You are a corporation,” Cuomo said, referring to Nixon’s formation of an LLC to pay a lower rate on income derived from her lucrative acting career.
“I am a person,” responded Nixon, who recently released five years of personal tax returns.
“Working men and women don’t have corporations,” Cuomo rebutted, casting his novice opponent’s claim to represent the working men and women of New York as hypocritical. He further challenged Nixon’s claim of independence from corporate donors, telling the audience: “My opponent is upset with the Koch brothers because they’re the only ones who take more corporate money than she does.”
Nixon, who recently boasted about receiving more small-dollar donations in one day than Cuomo has in seven years, has sworn off corporate donations but remains open to receiving money from LLCs, PACs and unions.
Cuomo, who is running to serve his third term as governor, sought to cast his opponent as a political insider willing to exploit her personal relationship with mayor Bill de Blasio for personal gain.
The governor cited a request Nixon made to the de Blasio administration in 2014 on behalf of the Oskar Eustis, the director of New York’s Public Theater, that helicopters stop flying over the venue during shows.
Nixon, a former star on HBO’s Sex and the City, painted the request not as a personal favor but rather as “a favor to the people of New York.”
“How about for the teahouse for Sarah Jessica Parker, that wasn’t a favor?” Cuomo responded, referring to a recently disclosed email that Nixon sent to city hall at the behest of her Sex and the City co-star asking that officials look into a dispute between Parker’s friend, who owns a West Village teas shop, and her landlord.
Nixon, who has pushed Cuomo to the left on a number of issues since announcing her candidacy earlier this year, cast her opponent as a “corrupt, corporate Democrat” who has only recently come around on issues, such as paid family leave, out of political necessity. She also sought to tie Cuomo to New York’s ailing subway system and the rampant corruption exposed in Albany in recent years.