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What Did They Know—and When the Heck Did They Know It?

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The controversy surrounding the famous “Vote for Cuomo, Not the Homo” posters that poisoned the 1977 mayoral primary battle between a future mayor and a future governor threatens not to quiet down in time for Andrew Cuomo—the son of the man who lost that mayoral primary but was elected governor in 1982—to finish his run for New York State attorney general.

At a January meeting of the Stonewall Democratic Club of New York, Cuomo was asked about the hate posters that took aim at Congressman Ed Koch during the ’77 race, and at times littered Queens Boulevard and other locales across the city. His answer that night sparked controversy in the dailies and on the Web.

The Daily News reported that Cuomo dismissed the issue by saying reports of it were “urban legend.” The News quoted an irate Koch as responding, “It either means he has amnesia or is deliberately distorting the truth.” But The Times fired back that Cuomo was not denying the existence of the posters, but rather any culpability that he, as one of his father’s top campaign lieutenants that year, or the former governor himself had in the matter. A transcript posted on the “Politicker” page of the New York Observer’s Web site backed up that version of the story—and corrected the Daily News quotation of “urban legend” as “folklore.”

The Times reported that it had been pushed by Green allies to tell the same version of the story as the Daily News had.

But Cuomo has not always shied away from suggesting that the gay-bashing of Koch never took place. As recently as 2002, during his short-lived run for governor, in a June 17 interview with this reporter, he first questioned whether the incident had in fact occurred and then added emphatically, “If it happened, it did not happen from the Mario Cuomo campaign.”

Now, however, comes news that the elder Cuomo not only was aware that the poster campaign took place, but knows who was responsible for it.

In an April 5 story in the Daily News, Michael Goodwin wrote about a recent joint appearance by the two Democratic lions, the former governor and the former mayor, at an exhibition on Koch’s mayoralty at the Museum of the City of New York. The two men hugged, Goodwin reported.

Then at the story’s conclusion, Goodwin—referring to the “homo” postering controversy that he said “threatened to derail Koch”—wrote, “Koch believed the Cuomo camp was behind the signs, while Cuomo has always denied it. He said yesterday he thinks he knows who did it, but that there is no point in identifying the person now.”

Mario Cuomo, we beg to differ. Let’s clear the air. Who did it? When did you find out about it? And what has your son Andrew known about the incident through the years?

Gay voters want to know.

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Updated 5:17 pm, July 20, 2018
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