Andrew Cuomo Insists His BBM-ing Isn’t Shady

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New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, left, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a ceremony in the Red Room at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y., on Friday, March 16, 2012.  (AP Photo/Mike Groll)
Photo: Mike Groll

Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration is scoffing at suggestions that they're too secretive, while simultaneously acting pretty damn secretive, even in innocuous ways. Articles in both the Times and the Daily News this week describe Cuomo's preference for using pin-to-pin BlackBerry Messenger, (known by an ever-dying breed as BBM) instead of e-mail because it doesn't leave a digital trail, a risk the governor knows well from his time as attorney general, not to mention his predecessors.

Despite promising transparency, the administration acknowledges their reputation: "A humorous video they produced for the annual dinner of the Albany press corps in May included a scene in which the governor’s communications director, Richard Bamberger, frantically stuffed documents into a shredder." But it's not all laughs: "they did not post the video on the Internet and would not immediately provide a copy to The Times."

"It communicates a culture of — I don't know if paranoia is the right word; maybe it's control," said one Democratic activist. The Times has some additional examples:

Aides in the governor’s office have been warned about discussing work matters at Albany haunts. On one occasion, Mr. Cuomo’s spokesman worried publicly that someone was rummaging through the office’s trash. And the administration has been aggressive in redacting documents before sharing them with the public; in June, when it turned over months of Mr. Cuomo’s schedules to The New York Times, even the daily weather forecast was blacked out. (The office has since pledged to release the forecasts.)

"The Times has sunk to a new low by suggesting that normal, standard office practices to ensure confidential information is kept confidential is somehow objectionable," said a Cuomo spokesman. But he'll have to forgive New Yorkers some trust issues when it comes to governors these days.