Gov. Kathy Hochul demanded a plum job as U.S. ambassador or trade secretary in exchange for being replaced as Andrew Cuomo’s running mate in 2022 – before he was forced to step down as governor due to allegations of sexual harassment, sources told The Post on Thursday.
Top Cuomo assistant Melissa DeRosa reached out to the White House in January to try to score the then Lt. Gov. Hochul a diplomatic deployment to her ancestral homeland of Ireland or to Canada, sources said.
The U.S. Embassy in Canada is located in Ottawa, less than a six-hour drive from Hochul’s hometown of Buffalo.
But officials in President Biden “laughed us out of the room” when Cuomo’s people asked to be nominated, a source said.
The White House came up with a counter-offer of “an under-secretary role” for Hochul, and she agreed to work in the Ministry of Commerce, the source said.
But discussions ended abruptly in late February, when Cuomo was engulfed by the burgeoning sexual harassment scandal that forced him to stop in disgrace less than seven months later, midway through his third term.
Efforts to find a new job for Hochul — first reported by the Washington Post — were part of Cuomo’s plan to dump her in favor of a minority candidate on his planned 2022 re-election ticket.
On Tuesday, The Post reported exclusively that Cuomo’s aides called Hochul in January and told her she was forced out because he wanted a running mate from downstate with ties to the minority community.
Hochul confirmed this report on Wednesday, saying, “It is an open secret that we are not close.”
She added: “This was tried in late 2014, primarily. This was tried in 2018. And I still stand.”
A source close to Cuomo said Thursday that his aides “talked about a number of African-American women with substance that we sought to add to the administration and diversify the ticket.”
“But we did not reach the point where we made calls,” the source added.
It is unclear whether the potential candidates considered included Attorney General Letitia James, a former New York City public spokeswoman.
In late January, James published a report revealing that Cuomo’s administration had publicly underestimated the number of nursing home residents killed by coronavirus amid controversy over a state mandate forcing elderly care facilities to accept “medically stable” COVID-19 -patients discharged from hospitals.
James also published the devastating August 3 report that found Cuomo, 63, sexually harassing 11 women, nine of them current or former state workers and most in their 20s or 30s – prompting him to announce his resignation a week later.
Last week, The Post reported exclusively that James indicated she would challenge Hochul to the Democratic gubernatorial nomination next year and told a sold-out, Sept. 30 dinner meeting of the Ulster County Democratic Committee, “Stay tuned.”
Hochul announced his plans to seek a full term as governor next year on August 12, 11 days before Cuomo actually left office.
A spokesman for Hochul declined to comment Thursday.
Additional reporting by Carl Campanile