Aides to Gov. Cuomo have been secretly using state resources to “crowd-build’’ turnouts at public events for Cuomo’s new and supposedly all-volunteer Citizen Preparedness Corps, which responds to natural disasters, e-mails obtained by The Post show.
The confidential e-mails in some cases direct officials to come up with at least 10 people each to attend the sessions.
They were exchanged by high-level officials in Cuomo’s office, and at more than a dozen state agencies, including the Motor Vehicle, Transportation, Labor, Environmental Conservation and State departments, as well as at the Empire State Development Corp. and the Thruway Authority
They’re told to lean on agency employees, groups that receive state services, friends and even family to generate turnouts for the events, which Cuomo has billed as a response to Hurricane Sandy and other severe storms, but which many see as an effort to generate publicity as he runs for re-election.
“Events of these [sic] magnitude require an all hands on deck approach,’’ reads one official e-mail.
Late last month, Mark Streb, the governor’s Capital District regional representative, told political appointees in virtually all state agencies that they were expected to beat the bushes to turn out people for a “Citizen Preparedness Corps Training Program’’ held in Schenectady this past Saturday.
“Every individual that receives this e-mail will be responsible for making sure at a minimum 10 people RSVP and attend the event,’’ wrote Streb, who called the effort “crowd building.”
“A common question that is asked is who are these people that we want to have attend . . . Common target groups are your constituencies that your agencies deal with (or in some cases the entities that provide services to those constituencies), friends, families, co-workers, neighborhood groups, religious groups, a workaholic support group, a civic group you are a member of . . .
“The list could be endless, but that paints the picture of what we are looking for,’’ Streb continued.
DMV Deputy Commissioner for Safety Terri Egan, meanwhile, wrote to an aide last week that they could earn points with the governor’s office by pressuring law-enforcement personnel into helping turn out a crowd.
“Maybe our law enforcement folks might have some people who would like to attend who we can then ‘take credit for,’ ’’ Egan wrote.
Cuomo’s spokesman Richard Azzopardi refused to explain Streb’s efforts to pressure public officials to inflate turnouts for the events, but he did threaten — after being told The Post had learned of the e-mails — to disclose them to competing journalists, a move designed to undermine the impact of The Post’s story.
“These e-mails reveal that so much else that goes on with Cuomo at the Capitol is an illusion,’’ said a former top official.
“The governor’s aides gin this kind of stuff up all the time, then they feed it to the press and public like there’s something real and spontaneous going on, and for the most part, the press and the public accept it.’’
Time for a Moreland Commission to look into the executive branch.