With New York Governor Andrew Cuomo pledging to bring about top to bottom ethics reform, one has to wonder what, if anything he will do about Department of Health official Maribeth Gnozzio, or, if you prefer the nickname this blog has bestowed upon her, Knuckles Gnozzio.
Some background, Gnozzio is the wife of disgraced New Jersey politician Robert Charles Janiszewski. Janiszewski was the County Executive for Hudson County NJ and one of the states top democrats before pleading guilty in 2002 to taking bribes and being sentenced in 2005 to 41 months in to prison. Media reports say the aforementioned Knuckles Gnozzio was spared charges as a result of Janiszewski’s agreement with the FBI. Too bad in a sense given that according to the Hudson Reporter “Election records from 2001 show that the entire time that former Hudson County Executive Robert Janiszewski was working for the federal government, he was apparently directing campaign funds to a private campaign account” kept in the name of Maribeth Gnozzio. In fact, according to a report by New Jersey’s Star Ledger, as recently as 2012 Knuckles was still the treasurer of that same account, a PAC, and, in an interview, displayed her apparent penchant for never meeting a question she wants to or feels like answering. Knuckles “would not say if any donations to charities or campaigns have come from the account. “If it’s not on the report (required by law), I guess I’m not required to answer that question,” she said.”
This is the person Cuomo’s government brought on as a DOH staff member to oversee the TBI Waiver and more. The governor can’t, on the one hand, claim loyalty to ethics reform and on the other hand hire people like this. It’s not as if she (or her husband) needs the money. Janiszewski gets a monthly pension from New Jersey of just about $1,000 and Knuckles gets a monthly pension of just over $3,000.
To be fair, everyone ought to be given the chance to reform. But reform, doesn’t seem to be on Knuckles Gnozzio’s mind. In 2010 she was the one who issued the verbal directive blocking waiver staff from advocating for waiver participants at Medicaid Fair Hearings, a move that has undermined the ability of many to truly represent themselves, which was Knuckles plan? Was it Cuomo’s plan as well? Or did he simply not know what his DOH was doing. He has known for some time now, and still not change. It was also Knuckles Gnozzio that directed that the housing subsidy this writer was receiving when he was on the TBI Waiver be taken away and it was Knuckle’s Gnozzio who led the effort to deny this writer a request for white noise machines secondary to sound sensitivity related to my brain injury.
Gnozzio needs to go and, if Cuomo is telling the truth about his commitment to ethics reform, she will. If he isn’t, she won’t.