Challenge to Zephyr Teachout’s residency now in judge’s hand

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A challenge to the residency of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Democratic primary challenger is in the hands of a state judge.

Governor New York PrimaryA two-day trial on Fordham Law Professor Zephyr Teachout’s residency wrapped up in state Supreme Court in Brooklyn this afternoon, with a judge expected to render a decision within days.

Cuomo’s campaign — via surrogates from Westchester and Rockland counties — is challenging whether Teachout, a Vermont native, has been a resident of New York long enough to run for governor. The state constitution requires all candidates for governor to have been a resident of the state for five years before an election.

From the Associated Press’ report from Day 1 of the trial:

Teachout, who lives in Brooklyn, said she has spent time during the summers in Vermont, where she was raised and where her family still lives. On Thursday she called the residency challenge a “frivolous” attempt by Cuomo’s campaign to eliminate a primary foe.

The residency challenge was filed by suburban New York City residents Harris Weiss and Austin Sternlicht, registered Democrats who are represented in the case by former state Sen. Martin Connor, a New York attorney who specializes in election law.

In court, Connor questioned Teachout about why she waited until this year to obtain a New York driver’s license and pointed to a 2012 campaign finance record on which she had listed an old Vermont address. She called it a harmless error, blaming “muscle memory.”

Connor also questioned her about a 2009 tax return that asked how many months she had lived in New York at the time of the filing. She originally answered zero months but recently amended the return to change it to six months.

“It was clearly a mistake,” she said.

(Peter Morgan/AP photo)

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9 Comments

  1. Meanwhile, does Cuomo have a permanent place of abode in NY? I guess only if you want to count his girlfriend’s house (the one with the substantial improvements that the local assesor was denied access to, in order to access improvements). Anyone want to bet that the challenge to Teachout started with Cuomo looking at her tax filings, before they were made public.

  2. Westchester Voter on

    Ms. Teachout has a right to challenge Cuomo since her party’s line was “acquired” by the governor. The so-called residency challenge ought not fly – let her run in the primary!!

  3. Counterpoint on

    They should have rent/mortgage receipts or records and utility bills (unless she roomed with a friend), and employer records that should shed light on the issue of whether she resided in NY during the Summer/Spring of 2009. It doesn’t seem realistic that she commuted back and forth from Vermont to NYC while she was teaching at Fordham Law in August or September, 2009, when she started the academic year, as Cuomo would have the Court believe. The alternative is to reject her testimony and any supporting evidence that she has – and label her as a liar and fraud. She’s the one who seems to have the ethics here. Don’t think the challenge is (or ought to) fly. No balls by the man who has $35,000,000 in the bank and should easily defeat this nuisence challenge on primary day.

  4. Taxpayer and Voter on

    This does smack of desperation on the part of Cuomo. He cannot afford possible embarrassment at the polls on primary day.

  5. Counterpoint — apparently she did live with a friend. As does Cuomo, who lives with his girlfirend.

  6. Counterpoint on

    NYerker – from an August 7th NY Times article – she apparently testified at the hearing that she sublet from a friend – dates not specified in the article – but I agree with you that, like the Gov, she could reside with a friend and still qualify for NY residency – the fact that she may have sublet only buttresses her case.

  7. just the facts on

    the issue of residency has to be distinguished from
    that of domocile.you can have only one domocile but
    as many residency’s as you like…so if she spent any
    real time at the place she says she stayed at…then
    for voting purposes if she doesn’t vote anywhere else
    of course she is eligible to run in the primary…