Democratic gubernatorial candidate Zephyr Teachout was back in court Friday to defend herself against a challenge from the Cuomo campaign, which is claiming she doesn't meet the residency requirement to run for governor of New York. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
On the second day of her residency hearing, Zephyr Teachout's lawyers presented their case.
Three witnesses testified on Teachout's behalf, two friends and Teachout's mother, a superior court judge in Vermont. Because they were subpoenaed witnesses, the court did not allow NY1 to shoot their testimony.
"This is a sham suit, but we brought in witnesses today who've been in all my apartments, who've seen where I've lived, who can describe dinner parties and coming over to my apartment," Teachout said.
Governor Andrew Cuomo's campaign is making the charge that Teachout hasn't been a New York resident for the last five years. The state Constitution says anyone running for governor must have lived in the state for five years prior to Election Day. Teachout says she moved to New York in 2009.
On Thursday, Teachout defended her early time in New York City, where she frequently moved around and, at one point, lived with a friend.
"I've lived in about five different places, and I've had trouble finding cheap apartments. The rent's expensive," she said. "I wanted to pay off my debt before getting a nicer apartment. And so I think it's a pretty typical experience."
But Teachout was also shown to have renewed her Vermont driver's license as recently as 2012. She also signed a document stating she is a Vermont resident when she purchased a car.
"So here she is receiving, in effect, the benefit by representing to a New York State government agency, 'I am not a New Yorker. I'm a resident of Vermont,'" said Martin Connor, an attorney for the Cuomo campaign. "The benefit? She didn't have to pay the sales tax here."
On Friday afternoon, Cuomo's running mate, Kathy Hochul, was asked about the campaign's residency challenge to Teachout.
"My simple statement is that everyone has to play by the rules, and there's a reason we have residency requirements," Hochul said. "People I've been talking to like the idea that someone who actually has lived in this state for the legally required amount of time, which is five years."
The judge will rule on the case by 2 p.m. Monday. Whatever the ruling is, the case can be appealed, but as observers pointed out, time is running out to finalize the ballot, since the primary election is just a month away.