Gov. Hochul Severs Ties With Top Political Adviser in Face of Backlash


A top political adviser to Gov. Kathy Hochul of New York abruptly informed colleagues that he would resign on Sunday, citing a New York Times report that called into question his political counsel and described a toxic work environment under him.

The adviser, Adam C. Sullivan, was not a paid employee of the state but had been the de facto head of Ms. Hochul’s political operation, overseeing her 2022 campaign. She had also deputized him to help steer the state Democratic Party.

In an email Sunday to colleagues, including the party’s chairman, Mr. Sullivan apologized for his behavior and said he and Ms. Hochul agreed he should relinquish his responsibilities.

“In retrospect, I can see the toll that the campaign took on me,” he wrote in the email, sent just after 5 p.m. “And after some serious thinking, I think it best if I take some time away from politics and the campaign environment and get healthy.”

Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, confirmed Mr. Sullivan’s resignation in a separate brief statement. The departure comes at a politically inconvenient time, as she is putting the final touches on a $229 billion state budget that is a month overdue.

“I was disappointed by what was described in The New York Times story about Adam, and he and I agreed that he should step back,” she said.

A longtime friend and adviser to Ms. Hochul, Mr. Sullivan, 42, amassed considerable influence after she unexpectedly became governor in August 2021. He helped build her administration, oversaw her widely criticized campaign for a full term and recently took charge of reviving the embattled state party.

Without a defined job title and no social media profile, he operated largely out of public view from his home 1,700 miles away in Colorado. After The Times drew attention to it last week, the arrangement drew harsh criticism from fellow Democrats, who bristled at the idea that Ms. Hochul had paid an out-of-state consultant — one who possessed few relationships to political actors in the state — more than $500,000 to help steer her governorship.

Mr. Sullivan also faced dissent from within Ms. Hochul’s campaign team and the executive chamber. The Times’s report cited more than 15 colleagues who said that Mr. Sullivan had disparaged subordinates, especially young women, froze out aides who disagreed with him and often shifted blame to others when the campaign faltered.

The aides and advisers who spoke to The Times all requested anonymity for fear of retribution, but said they believed Mr. Sullivan was pulling down Ms. Hochul’s political standing.

In his email on Sunday, Mr. Sullivan apologized “to anyone who felt harmed in any way by my behavior.”

Mr. Sullivan, a longtime friend of the governor’s who has worked with her since her 2011 special election to Congress, also suggested the break would be permanent.

Ms. Hochul would govern “without me interfering in any way,” he said. “I look forward to watching her success from afar.”


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