Via Times Union
ALBANY — After months of listening to Gov. Andrew Cuomo assail him as responsible for a bill he voted against, U.S. Rep. John Faso closed a letter to the governor on Thursday with an especially cutting observation: He’s not the man his late father was.
“While Mario Cuomo certainly was a vigorous political combatant, he always conducted himself in a way which was compatible with his office,” Faso wrote in a letter to Cuomo. “Although I had many disagreements with him, Mario Cuomo was at his core, a man of principle and honor. You, on the other hand, sir, are no such man.”
The occasion for this insult was the latest open letter from the Democratic governor calling on Faso to “stand with his constituents” in opposition to the the federal tax reform law, which narrowly passed the House and Senate in December without a single Democratic vote — and without Faso’s vote, either.
Like many blue-state Republicans, he voted against it primarily because of the new law’s curtailment of the federal exemption for state and local taxes, a change that Cuomo has described in his letter as “an economic missile launched at the heart of the State of New York.”
Cuomo — who has also vowed to work against the re-election of Faso and a half-dozen other Republican members of Congress who oppose gun control measures — said Faso’s personal “no” vote on did not get him off the hook.
“Those that did not actually vote for the bill had a moral and ethical obligation to demand that their leadership at least remove the New York penalty,” Cuomo wrote. “New Yorkers will not accept your impotence as a defense. You are all part the New York Republican delegation and can act together. We all know that in a legislative body, certain members are ‘let off’ the vote so they can claim impunity. That tactic fools no one and does not excuse the damage done to New York. You are responsible for the actions of your conference.”
The governor went on to lambaste Faso for sending a letter to the IRS asking for an advisory opinion on Cuomo’s proposal to allow New Yorkers to pay their state and local taxes through some sort of charitable institution that would allow them to continue to claim a federal exemption — a scheme that even many Democrats view as legally dubious.
“First, I don’t know how you could be seeking an IRS opinion when New York State has not even passed a law on which they could opine,” Cuomo wrote. “Second, I don’t know why you would be trying to sabotage the State Legislature’s efforts to undo the damage you have done to New York State taxpayers.”
Faso’s letter, released a few hours later, was shorter in length but equally heated.
“I’m surprised that you have not sought such an (IRS) opinion on behalf of New York State taxpayers,” the Kinderhook Republican wrote. “Can you seriously believe that New Yorkers should be encouraged to donate to such a foundation without knowing whether the IRS will accept such contributions as a qualifying charitable donation? Should the state legislature be asked to enact such a law without knowing if these donations will pass muster with the IRS?”
“Last year, you suggested that I should resign my office over this issue since I wasn’t able to halt passage of the legislation,” he continued. “No one took you seriously then, and I doubt anyone takes your criticism of me now seriously either.”
The letter closes in truly scorched-earth fashion with the invocation of Cuomo’s late father.
“What is truly lamentable is that you continue your hyper-partisan attacks and do not actively seek to engage those with whom you have policy disagreements in a legitimate discussion on how we can improve the economy in our state and nation,” Faso wrote. “Instead, you resort to behavior which is not consistent with your high office; behavior, I might add, that was not a characteristic of your father when he was governor.”