ALBANY – For Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul, now there's a date and time.
While Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office, for a fourth straight day, would not publicly say Monday when Cuomo will depart his job, Hochul's officials said they have now officially been told of the embattled Cuomo’s exit: next Monday at 11:59 p.m.
After nearly 11 years of Cuomo’s iron-fisted, combative and threatening styles employed to achieve his goals, an unfamiliar sense of optimism and collegiality is suddenly being talked about by the executive and legislative branches of state government.
When Monday night immediately slips to Tuesday, Hochul will become New York’s 57th governor.
Cuomo has been in no rush to be specific beyond his “14 days” declaration last week for how long he would remain in office until resigning under the weight of multiple scandals and an all-but-certain impeachment by the Legislature.
Cuomo heightened the intrigue by not submitting a formal letter of resignation – or at least by not offering one.
The Buffalo Democrat said she is already addressing pressing policy matters, working on key staff hirings, and, in a process to be completed within several weeks, preparing to name a new lieutenant governor.
When Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation on March 12, 2008, he immediately fired off a short resignation letter – effective five days later – to the heads of the Senate and Assembly. His lieutenant governor, David Paterson, had asked Spitzer to delay his actual resignation date so he could handle transition matters. Hochul did not ask for the 14-day delay, but has said she can work with the time period Cuomo dictated.
Cuomo’s press office did not respond to questions, again, posed on Monday about the date and time of Cuomo’s resignation and whether he had submitted a letter of resignation.
The resignation letter is no minor matter. A whole section of state law is dedicated to the process for a governor or other officials.
In Cuomo’s case, a resignation letter must be sent to the Legislature. If Cuomo does not specify a date for his resignation, it takes effect immediately. He can set a date after he announces his intention to resign – as he did Tuesday – but it can’t be more than 30 days after a formal resignation letter is submitted.
A resignation letter by Cuomo to Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins must be delivered and filed with the state Department of State. Officials there have not responded to emails about the issue sent since Sunday.
The resignation of Andrew M. Cuomo as New York’s 56th governor – paving the way for Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul to be governor in 14 days – raises many questions about process, continuity of key government duties and filling of key positions in Albany.
Then there is this key paragraph of the law: “A resignation delivered or filed pursuant to this section, whether effective immediately or at a specified future date, may not be withdrawn, cancelled or amended except by consent of the officer to whom it is delivered or body with which it is filed.”
On Monday, Hochul officials were not yet able to say when the incoming governor will give a formal inaugural address, or where.