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Congestion Pricing

Hochul Ditches $10K Car Dealer Fundraiser Amid Congestion Pricing Uproar

The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association was slated to host a $10,000-a-ticket reception for the governor.

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Gov. Hochul poses with three of her supporters.

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Gov. Hochul on Monday said she had backed out of a controversial fundraiser hosted for her by the car lobby in the aftermath of her decision to delay and perhaps kill congestion pricing.

The Greater New York Automobile Dealers Association was slated to host a $10,000-a-ticket reception for the governor in College Point, Queens on Tuesday, according to an email the organization sent out last month.

After news reports of the event surfaced over the weekend, Hochul did a 180, claiming on Monday that she was not going to the gala after all — much like her shocking U-turn to call off congestion pricing last week.

"I will not be attending a fundraiser with auto dealers," Hochul told reporters at an unrelated presser in the Bronx on Monday.

Hochul even seemed to imply there wasn't going to be a gala, interjecting when a reporter asked about the event happening the next day with, "No there’s not."

The car group, which has donated heavily to Hochul and previous governors, was caught unaware after NY1 reporter Bernadette Hogan tweeted the governor's comments.

"As far as I know she will be [attending]," a spokesperson for the group, Kelsey Hering, told Streetsblog.

The group representing dealers in the New York metro area has come out against congestion pricing, and it, along with other car groups, has donated generously to the governor.

Hochul pocketed $36,000 from state car lobbyists in the lead up to her congestion pricing backpedal, half of which came from the association hosting the event in Queens, The Lever reported, which first covered the fundraiser.

A rep for Hochul's campaign told the New York Post over the weekend that campaign contributions have "no impact on government decisions."

Neither the Dealers Association nor Hochul's campaign responded to Streetsblog for further comment.

Environmentalists and transportation advocates were outraged at Hochul, and Washington, D.C.-based climate group Climate Defiance planned to blockade the Queens event, before regrouping in light of Hochul's snub.

"Kathy Hochul is a coward and a climate criminal," said Michael Greenberg, founder and executive director of the group. "She chose to side with auto tycoons over the millions of New Yorkers who are desperate for clean air and who need a working public transit system to get to work and to see their work and to live their lives."

One Queens safe streets advocate had called Hochul's plans to join the car lobby "disgusting."

"Instead of working toward cleaner air, climate solutions and better transit, the governor is partying with the auto industry," said Laura Shepard, an advocate with Transportation Alternatives. "It’s disgusting."

Hochul defended her record on mass transit, citing her push last year to raise funding to stave off the Metropolitan Transportation Authority from going off a "fiscal cliff."

"I have been very supportive of transit and anybody questions that, look at what I did last year when I was heralded by the media for being the person who saved the MTA," she told reporters. "It was heading off the fiscal cliff, and no one thought that I would be able to figure out an array of solutions that kept it literally on track. So let's just look at the whole record."

Car dealers who spoke to Streetsblog on Monday were pleased that Hochul canceled congestion pricing (obvs).

"I'm glad it was put on hold," said Mark Resende, a New Jersey resident who works at the Jaguar Land Rover dealership on the West Side of Manhattan. "For someone like me who drives into the city every day, that’s obvious. Because now instead of having to pay $15 a day, I'm not paying anything.”

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