Mafia Targeted Mario Cuomo, Thrice Elected NY's Governor

I left Governor Cuomo’s office that day thinking what I had always thought about him — that he would have been a great president.

Mario Cuomo was one of the greatest orators in modern political history. He was formally a democrat, but his goals and accomplishments made him too complex a politician to be so easily defined by such a label.

He's been back in the news recently due to reports that the Sicilian Mafia marked him for death to send a message to Americans calling for nothing less than the destruction of the witness protection program. (They also wanted to whack New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The brutish Salvatore ‘Toto’ Riina, allegedly planned the hit when Giuliani was a state prosecutor in the 1980s. The American mob told him not to even try such a caper; Giuliani would wipe them out.)

Cuomo's July 16, 1984 Keynote Address to the Democratic National Convention tops many lists as one of the 20th Century's most inspirational speeches. I'd delete the qualifier and say it's one of the most inspirational and powerful in American history. Listening to it again, it sounds even more relevant today than ever before.

The Huffington Post offered an excerpt of the Mario Cuomo chapter (PDF) of Words That Shook The World by Richard Greene.

In the accompanying story, Greene noted that the chapter includes "background information and a line-by-line analysis of his Tale of Two Cities Keynote Address."
Greene also reveals how he once asked Cuomo something about which I've long wondered (and lamented):

I left Governor Cuomo’s office that day thinking what I had always thought about him — that he would have been a great president. I felt so strongly about this that, at the end of the interview, I mustered the courage to ask him, as many did, why he chose not to run. I left shaking my head because, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t make sense out of the answer. 
But, for whatever reason, we are now left with his years as a leader of New York, an inspiration to many and this amazing speech..

 Cuomo died at age 82 on Jan. 1, 2015.

Former President Bill Clinton may have answered the question for us. He paid tribute to Cuomo in an op-ed piece published by Time magazine in which he  noted how he owed “a great debt” to the late New York governor.
The great Hugh Carey was instrumental to Cuomo's career.

“As all the political world knows, I owe a great debt to Mario Cuomo–for declining to run for President in 1992, then electrifying our convention with his nomination speech for me,” Clinton wrote in Time. “I later wanted to nominate him for the Supreme Court, but he declined. I think he loved his life in New York and was content to be our foremost citizen advocate for government’s essential role in building a strong American community, living and growing together.”

Read Clinton’s op-ed at Time.

Cuomo died just six hours after his son Andrew was formally sworn in to a second term as governor of the Empire State. When Mario Cuomo was hospitalized in late 2014 with a heart condition, a spokesman said he was “in good spirits,” and CNN’s Chris Cuomo — the former governor’s other son — tweeted that his father was “doing well enough.” (In addition to Andrew and Chris, Mario Cuomo had three daughters — Maria, Margaret and Madeline.)

First elected to the post in 1982, Cuomo served three terms as governor of the Empire State, making him the longest-serving Democratic governor in state history.

As an obit noted, "Cuomo’s keynote address instantly made him a Democratic sensation, stirring speculation that he would run for president himself in 1988. But Cuomo eventually declined to jump in the race, instead running for re-election as governor in 1986 — a race he won by a landslide. He successfully ran for a third term in 1990, again sitting out of the presidential race in 1992 after flirting with the idea for some time. Cuomo’s vacillations on whether to run for president earned him the nickname “Hamlet on the Hudson.”

"As governor, Cuomo at times tacked to the right fiscally, proposing tax cuts and cutting spending in efforts to balance the state budget. He also fought against many of Reagan’s proposed budget cuts, and pushed for funding for housing, schools and environmental protection.

"Cuomo rejected political labels, which he saw as useless, and described himself as a “progressive pragmatist.”

‘’The very success of Mario Cuomo is that he is neither ‘liberal’ nor ‘conservative,’’’ Cuomo adviser Meyer S. Frucher told The New York Times in 1988. ‘’He does not fit any of the labels. That does not make him disingenuous. That makes him a good governor, the leader of a government that spends on social programs but does not get carried away, that has not just a heart, but a head.’’

In 1993, Cuomo was offered a chance at an open Supreme Court seat by President Bill Clinton, but removed himself from consideration. He later said he had no regrets about his decision.

"To be a justice of the Supreme Court, to sit there and listen, to study, to conclude and write and not have to worry about the polls, nothing would have been more perfect," he said. "But on the other side, I think I have probably been in a better position to speak out on the issues."

Cuomo’s most liberal position — his opposition to the death penalty — was a key issue in his 1994 re-election campaign. It had been 12 years since he faced as formidable an opponent in the race for the governorship.

"Republican state Sen. George Pataki, initially considered an underdog with little statewide name recognition, steadily closed in on Cuomo as the campaign wore on. Pataki focused his campaign on two key issues: tax cuts and restoring the death penalty. The latter may have been critical to Pataki’s ultimate, albeit narrow, victory over Cuomo: as The New York Times reported after the election, 60 percent of voters said they supported restoring capital punishment. Those voters went 2-to-1 in favor of Pataki."

After his defeat, Cuomo returned to private practice.

Note that New York state hasn't executed an inmate since 1963.

Enter the Sicilians
By plotting his murder the Sicilians proved how little they knew about politics

Cosa Nostra had plans to assassinate Mario Cuomo during the New York governor's 1992 trip to Italy.

So said imprisoned hitman Maurizio Avola, who noted "the attack was only called off when the scale of Cuomo's security detail became apparent" as reported by The Guardian.

Cosa Nostra in the 1990s was engaged in a terror campaign against the state, assassinating anti-mafia prosecutors Giovanni Falcone and Paolo Borsellino in separate bomb attacks in 1992.

The Sicilians wanted to send a message regarding their hatred of America's witness protection program, which allowed Mafia turncoats to start anew under assumed identities, Avola said.

"Cuomo was a symbol of America which during those years hosted collaborators who wanted out of Cosa Nostra and then got their bosses arrested. His death would have sent a strong signal to New York. It would have made them understand what happens to those who stand in the Mafia's way," he said.

Food for thought for all those who use words like "rats" -- a topic rife with hypocrisy. The most extreme cases involve the families of gangsters who are sent away for life by men who essentially committed the same crimes, or worse, as the convicted family member(s). Yet today with widescale intentional dry-snitching and informing, there's much more complexity involved. Who's a rat, is the question of the day, with seemingly everyone offering their own definition that best suites their own personal situation. 
We've been watching this playing out in the media for the past year, with this writer being attacked repeatedly on social media (in textbook obsessive compulsive ways; these are mentally ill sociopaths). (see Twitter screen grabs.) 
This blog's been attacked in other ways. Type in this blogger's name "edscarpo" than add dotcom. 
Apparently, John A. Gotti doesn't like the fact that this blog writes stories about John Alite. But the truth is, Junior Gotti wouldn't respond to repeated requests for comment. And, all things considered, I decided he isn't worth an interview because he can't tell the truth. And judging by the story he gave Gangsters Inc., in which he was less-than-truthful about the John Travolta Gotti biopic, he seems to show his own proclivity for doing exactly what he's accused Alite of doing for more than 10 years now.

The Sicilian Mafia was making a mistake, on many levels by targeting Cuomo. 

"Ironically, Cuomo was a Mafia denier, and his administration did little to target the crime families," as Friend of Ours noted.

The blog further noted:

"Indeed, he once infamously said that the Mafia's existence is "a lot of baloney" and it's just "a word invented by people" as reported by The Associated Press.

When Gambino boss Paul Castellano was whacked in 1985 in front of Sparks Steak House in Manhattan the governor even "urged reporters to refrain from invoking the word Mafia in reference to the hit" as reported by Sam Roberts forThe New York Times. Cuomo then criticized the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York for refusing to bury Castellano in sacred ground as reported by Crime TV.

Cuomo once had presidential ambitions but abandoned them due to speculation about mob connections -- particularly involving father-in-law Charles Raffa who suffered a near-fatal beatdown in 1984 outside a vacant supermarket he owned in Brooklyn -- as reported by Nick Pileggi in a November 1987 cover story "Mario Cuomo and Those Mob Rumors" for New Yorkmagazine.

One of Cuomo's earliest political supporters and bosom buddies was Genovese associate William Fugazy. Fugazy founded the National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations of which Cuomo was a member, and in 1986 the Governor appointed Fugazy to head the New York State Statue of Liberty Centennial Commission.

Even Clinton, so generous with his praise for Cuomo, once made remarks implying Cuomo acted like a mobster.

In January 1992, the Democratic presidential candidate publicly apologized to New York Gov. Mario M. Cuomo for private remarks he made that were publicly released by Gennifer Flowers, who claimed to have had a 12-year affair with Clinton.

She held a news conference and played tapes that she said were of phone conversations between her and Clinton, as the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Flowers held the news conference along with the Star, a supermarket tabloid, which paid her for her story and published it."

Clinton has strongly denied that he had an affair with Flowers but has acknowledged talking with her by telephone after she called him to express concern about being romantically linked to him. On Tuesday, Clinton's aides confirmed that he made the remarks about Cuomo.

Clinton himself, in response to questions from the press, said Monday night in Houston that he had not listened to the tapes, but "with everybody now publishing" reports that he made the remarks, he wanted Cuomo "to know if anything was said, I didn't mean any offense by it."

During one portion of the tape, apparently made before Cuomo announced he would not be a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination, Flowers and Clinton discuss Cuomo and his high name recognition.

Flowers says she doesn't care for Cuomo's "demeanor."

Clinton responds: "Boy, he is so aggressive."

Flowers says she wouldn't be surprised if Cuomo "didn't have some Mafioso major connections."

"Well, he acts like one," Clinton says.
Flowers' press conference....

In his apology, Clinton said: "If the remarks on the tape left anyone with the impression that I was disrespectful to either Gov. Cuomo or Italian-Americans, then I deeply regret it.

"At the time the conversation was held, there had been some political give and take between myself and the governor and I meant simply to imply that Gov. Cuomo is a tough, worthy competitor."

At first Cuomo dismissed Clinton's explanation. "What do you mean if?" Cuomo said, referring to the Arkansas governor's statement. "If you are not capable of understanding what was said, then don't try apologizing."

....Which eventually got her in Penthouse......

"This is part of an ugly syndrome that strikes Italian-Americans, Jewish people, blacks, women, all the ethnic groups," Cuomo said when questioned in Albany, N. Y.

Cuomo later urged putting the controversy aside and "getting back to the issues."

Clinton, when pressed by reporters about his apology to Cuomo, became more visibly angry than he has since Flowers' allegations surfaced. "What I wonder is, with all the American people we got that are unemployed, with all the people who can't get any health care, with all the problems we have in this country . . . the first three questions from the press would be about something that doesn't have a thing to do with the future of this country."

Referring to the press, Clinton added:

"The American people are sick and tired with your obsessive preoccupation with a failed setup and I have nothing else to say about it."