Beleaguered New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo was dealt a new blow this afternoon, and it hit him like a Certified Pre-Owned Ford F-350 with an optional 6.7-liter PowerStroke Diesel V8 engine doing 85 miles per hour up the New York State Thruway headed smack dab into the heart of Albany. That is because the Cuomo impeachment investigation discovered that the Governor had been doing something other than placing COVID patients in nursing homes and allegedly asking young interns if they’d ever seen a middle-aged man naked. It appears that Randy Andy had been setting New York State policy to favor one specific automobile company over all others. Well, it’s even better than that. The evidence seems to suggest that Governor Cuomo had been tipping the scales to boost the fortunes of a specific NY Certified Pre-Owned Ford dealer in Queens, New York: Freddie Fingers Freedom Ford of Floral Park.
Discovery of an Unpublished Chapter Reveals Questionable Policy Decisions
Nicknamed “Pre-Owned Gate,” this latest scandal could prove to be the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. Where the nursing home and sexual harassment scandals deal with allegations of mismanagement and questionable ethics, Pre-Owned Gate strikes right at Cuomo’s claims of being on the cutting edge of state automotive policy. Investigators revealed that subpoenaed documents included unpublished chapters and early manuscripts of Cuomo’s recent COVID era memoir, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Attorney General Letitia James recently appointed attorneys Joon H. Kim, the former Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Anne L. Clark, an employment discrimination attorney, to head the independent investigation into allegations of sexual harassment leveled against Cuomo from a growing number of women, most of whom worked for the Governor at one time or another. But it appears now that the investigation may be expanding like the compression on a Certified Pre-Owned Ford Mustang with its powerful 480 horsepower 5.0-liter V8 Mach 1 engine getting into top gear. You see, one investigator got a hold of an early version of Cuomo’s best-selling book, which included discussions of pre-COVID Gubernatorial policies, including Project F, Cuomo’s lauded green vehicle policy. In a chapter from a first draft, Cuomo discusses how he crafted Project F through an old acquaintance in the automotive business: Freddie Fingers.
The relationship between Fingers and the Cuomos goes back a long way. Andrew’s father Mario befriended Fingers when he was just a young lawyer starting out in Hollis, Queens looking for his first car. Fingers got the future Governor Mario Cuomo behind the wheel of a 1973 Ford Pinto, and his career just exploded after that. Despite losing a bitter primary battle for the New York City Mayoralty in 1977 to Ed Koch, Mario was now famous throughout New York State and was elected the State’s Governor in 1982 over Republican nominee Lewis Lehrman. Andrew’s fortunes seemed to rise with his father’s career, and so did the performance of Freddie Fingers’s Ford dealership, which had expanded from Hollis to a new location in Floral Park. Mario also traded in that Pinto for a T-Bird, but Andrew couldn’t have one since his daddy took his T-Bird away.
Specific Policies Favored a Specific Program at a Specific Dealership
Fast forward to 2007, when Andrew’s star was truly on the rise. That’s because he had parlayed his success as President Clinton’s HUD Secretary into a starring role as New York’s brand new, uber-aggressive Attorney General, succeeding the new Governor and former Attorney General, Elliot Spitzer. Andrew rolled into Albany faster than a Certified Pre-Owned Ford Ranger with a 2.3-liter turbocharged I-4 engine, which is pretty darn fast. He wasted no time enforcing the laws of New York and taking on crooked businessmen, serial polluters, and crooked businessmen who serially pollute.
One specific target was Fredo Finklestein Fabulous Ford of Flushing. Fredo’s dealership was famous as the one located just past the leftfield fence as Shea Stadium, advertising a special “Hit a Ford, win a Ford” promotion. He never had to pay up until Dave “King Kong” Kingman blasted a belt-high fastball from the Reds’ Freddie Norman 550 feet right into the waiting windshield of a late model ’76 Ford Crown Victoria sitting on Fredo’s lot.
Aside from making ballpark promotions, Fredo had also been rolling back odometers and providing faked results on New York’s strikingly stringent emissions tests. Fredo was also Freddie Fingers’s biggest competitor. Still, there has never been any evidence that the investigation of Fredo Finklestein was motivated by anything other than a sense of civic duty. Nevertheless, Andrew did get that Certified Pre-Owned Ford T-Bird he’d always coveted after his dad Mario thought he was having too much fun, fun, fun, and took it away from him.
Andrew was the beneficiary of even more good fortune when Governor Spitzer was driven to resign after being identified as Client 9 using too much Love Potion Number 9. New York held a special election with Andrew Cuomo coming out far on top. His star was ascendant. Keeping to one of his campaign pledges, Cuomo enacted a series of green vehicle rules to improve emissions standards and vehicle requirements, which he dubbed Project F. Part of these policies were designed to get more New Yorkers to buy used cars so fewer old jalopies would end up littering the lots all over New York State. New York environmentalists like Zither Teacup of Citizens for Clean Dumps proclaimed Andrew Cuomo, “a genius who will make New York State one awesome nature preserve! I give Project F an A+!”
However, there appears to be another side to this policy. In the deleted chapter, Cuomo writes that “promoting the sale of used cars will redound to the benefit of Certified Pre-Owned programs, allowing them to undersell regular used cars and even new cars. That is the goal of Project F. This is because the Certified Pre-Owned programs have these 172-point inspections that can clean up any open recalls and emissions problems.”
This claim is borne out by the shape Project F took, with a requirement that in order to qualify for the State subsidy, the used car had to have all open recalls and emissions problems fixed before being sold to a third party. Nevertheless, this in and of itself is not evidence of a problem since most major automakers that offer Certified Pre-Owned programs like Ford Blue Advantage make these repairs before offering their used cars for sale.
The key difference was found in a later paragraph: Cuomo’s F standard in Project F. Investigators discovered a little known wrinkle located in the fine print of Cuomo’s clean used car policy, an extra subsidy for cars using the letter F. The more Fs in a car or dealer’s name, the more lucrative the subsidy for the used car.
With Fredo Finklestein permanently out of the used car business, unless you consider making license plates at Sing Sing automotive work, that left Freddie Fingers Freedom Ford of Floral Park poised to reap the biggest benefits out of the entire Project F. So if Fingers sold a Certified Pre-Owned Ford Fusion, that would count as 2 Fs for the vehicle name and 6 Fs for the dealer name, leading to a premium subsidy bonus of 8 F factors. When environmentalist Zither Teacup was informed of this, her immediate response was that “I am shocked and saddened by this. Knowing what I know now, I would give Cuomo’s Project F an F!”
From Hero to Zero
We tried to reach Freddie Fingers for comment, but his attorney said he was out-of-town and not entertaining interviews at this time. Attorney General James would only say that it is against her office’s policy to comment on ongoing investigations. Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who stands to become Governor if Cuomo is removed from office, told us that she just got her COVID vaccination and implored her fellow New Yorkers to follow suit.
It is truly amazing to think that one year ago, Governor Cuomo was seen as a hero in the fight against COVID-19, doing everything right that Donald Trump got wrong. He would show up for daily briefings, followed by humorous exchanges with his brother Chris on CNN. But that is no more. As a former Hollis neighbor of the Cuomos, Portnoy Wootten remarked, “A new Ford Mustang Mach E can go from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 5.1 seconds, which is almost as fast as Governor Cuomo went from hero to zero.”