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July 13th, 2011

Does Cuomo’s Girlfriend Have Ties to the Petroleum Industry?

By Rich Bindell

Timing is everything. All eyes associated with shale gas drilling have been glued to New York State as residents, politicians, the gas industry and water advocates grapple with the future of energy and how it will play out in this portion of the Marcellus Shale. Specifically, we are watching Governor Andrew Cuomo as he prepares to lift the moratorium on fracking in 85 percent of the shale in the state. Funny then that we now discover that his girlfriend has unclear ties to the oil and gas industry. Timing.

The Wall Street Journal recently noted (subscribers only) that Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend, Sandra Lee, was a guest speaker at a “conference of petroleum executives” last March, though no specific companies or groups were identified. While she is not obligated to disclose this information, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the Governor to have industry ties while making a decision that will affect the nation in such a profound way. It also doesn’t reflect well on Lee that Star Talent, Inc., who initially blogged about the speaking engagement, apparently, recently changed the description of the audience from “petroleum” to “corporate” executives.

Today, Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter submitted an open letter to the Governor’s Office, asking for full disclosure about any and all relationships between Lee and the oil and gas industry. It seems strange for a bunch of petroleum executives to have interest in having a Food Network personality speak at their conference.

Hauter cuts right to the point in her letter…

“Your leadership in New York reverberates throughout the nation. As a powerful state, federal agencies and affected communities around the country are watching what unfolds there regarding fracking regulations. You are also a prominent leader with known ambitions beyond the state. That is why we urge you to address these transparency problems, starting with disclosing the sources of Sandra Lee’s petroleum industry income.”

Now, has poll up on their website, which asks, “Should Sandra Lee have to disclose her income information, even though she is not married to Gov. Cuomo?” If you believe, like we do, that Sandra Lee should disclose any financial ties she might have to the petroleum industry, please vote YES in the poll here.

Governor Cuomo has an obligation to protect New Yorkers from the potential dangers of fracking, and that includes the responsibility of being honest about any dealings with the oil and gas industries, even as they relate to his girlfriend. Food & Water Watch has officially launched our advocacy ad in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse, asking Governor Cuomo to ban fracking. Food & Water Watch and 48 other groups have asked for a statewide ban on fracking in New York. Join us!

2 Comments on Does Cuomo’s Girlfriend Have Ties to the Petroleum Industry?

  1. Richard Lockwood says:

    Our watersheds are sacred! Do not allow fracking in NYS!

  2. Nancy Donnan Coleman says:

    It seems appropriate that Gov Cuomo’s live in girl friend provide information on why she was presenting to the Gas and Oil people.

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