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Fact-checking claims in the Hochul-Zeldin debate



Republican candidate for New York Governor Lee Zeldin, left, participates in a debate against incumbent Democratic Gov. Kathy Hochul hosted by Spectrum News NY1, Oct. 25, 2022, at Pace University in New York. (AP)


In the sole debate in the New York gubernatorial race, incumbent Kathy Hochul and Representative Lee Zeldin presented numerous claims and counterclaims.

Zeldin, a Republican from Long Island, focused on crime, the Buffalo Bills stadium deal and the state’s loss of population, while Hochul, a Democrat from Erie County, highlighted the friendly relationship of Zeldin with former President Donald Trump, his votes against certification of the 2020 presidential election results in Arizona and Pennsylvania, and his views on anti-abortion rights.

We verified some of their claims during the October 25 debate.

Zeldin: New York leads the nation in population loss.

That’s right, according to Pew, a nonpartisan research organization.

“New York has lost 319,000 people since mid-2020, a decline of 1.58%, the most of any state. This is primarily because many residents have left New York for other states,” wrote Pew. Seventeen states lost residents between July 2020 and July 2021. New York was followed by Illinois, Hawaii and California, with the latter three all losing less than 1% of their population. Meanwhile, other northeastern states — Connecticut, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire — gained residents.

Hochul: We have changed the bail reform laws so that repeat offenders and people who have committed offenses with a firearm are treated as they were under the old law.

According to Krystal M. Rodriguez, director of policy for the Data Collaborative for Justice at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the complaint about repeat offenders typically covers people accused of harming people or damaging property, or who have been charged with possession. gun criminal. However, in general, people who are charged more than once with charges that do not involve injury to persons or property, such as simple drug possession cases, are not affected by recent changes to the law.

Amendments that came into effect on July 2, 2020 included a provision that a person with a pending case for a charge that includes damage to a person or property and the new charge also includes damage to a person or property, a judge may require cash bail before releasing the defendant before deciding the new case. In 2022, Hochul insisted on further changes, so that even in an ongoing case in which the accused had not yet been arraigned, such as in cases where a ticket to appear in the office is issued, the case can be considered pending if an arrest has been made. on a charge that included damage to person or property. Hochul also added criminal possession of a firearm, which technically does not involve harm to a person, as a bail-eligible charge if current or pending charges include that offense. .

Recent amendments have added more firearms offenses to the list of charges for which a judge can post bail before releasing an accused. However, Hochul’s claim could imply that judges were previously barred from requiring bail before releasing someone on a gun charge before recent changes, Rodriguez said. In New York, second-degree criminal possession of a weapon is the most commonly charged gun possession charge in firearms cases, and judges have always had the discretion to require that a defendant be released on bail before being released before deciding the case. Indeed, it is classified as a violent crime and initial changes to bail law in 2019 allowed judges to require bail before release, she said.

Hochul’s amendments added firearm possession offenses in which judges are allowed to post bail before releasing a defendant, such as criminal possession of a weapon on school property, criminal possession of a third degree firearm and the criminal sale of a firearm to a minor.

Hochul: Zeldin voted against the Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act.

That’s right. Zeldin voted against the Infrastructure Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act. He said the Inflation Reduction Act spends money the country cannot afford.

Zeldin: New York State paid twice as much for COVID testing as California because Hochul gave an untendered contract to Digital Gadgets, whose owner is a major donor.

California paid 45% less per test than New York. In New York, the tests were purchased through Digital Gadgets, a company whose owner can be connected to $300,000 in campaign donations from Hochul, according to the Times-Union in Albany. The tests were purchased when the state bidding process was suspended. Hochul said the state needed testing to get children back to school after a winter break when the omicron variant was spreading. New York bought the tests when they were in short supply, about three weeks before California’s order was placed. Hochul and the company denied that the political donations had anything to do with the purchase agreement. Although California paid significantly less for the same tests, the newspaper found a municipality in Massachusetts that paid slightly more than New York.

Hochul: On New York’s abortion law: “What we have in New York State is simply a codification of Roe v. Wade.

Fact checks and other reports on the Reproductive Health Act of 2019 found that the state had enacted law in compliance with Roe v. Wade. Lawmakers acted in anticipation of the overturning of the landmark Supreme Court case. The New York law at the time superseded another law that only allowed abortions after 24 weeks if the mother’s life was in danger, but did not consider her health, an important legal distinction, or if the fetus was not viable.

Zeldin: I voted to nullify the results of the 2020 presidential election in two states, Pennsylvania and Arizona, and I did so because the Constitution states that the state legislatures define the administration of the electoral law.

After the riot at the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 2021, Zeldin voted to void the election results of two states, Pennsylvania and Arizona. He said those states were not following the Constitution because the changes to election administration were made by people who were not state legislators. These states were also battleground states where President Joe Biden won, surprising Trump supporters.

The courts rejected that argument from Zeldin and other Republicans, PolitiFact reported. In addition, experts said that election officials have designated authority to fill gaps in existing election law and that any changes in election administration should not go through state legislatures. Zeldin’s assertion “supports legal doctrine based on a strict reading of Section 2 of the Constitution. But ignores that the courts have closed the door to challenges based on his argument, made in dozens of lawsuits by Donald Trump and his allies seeking to invalidate certified election results. He also ignores that some election officials have the power to make rules without legislative changes, especially in an emergency,” PolitiFact wrote.