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Insurance Industry Rides to the Rescue of Crooked Kevin Cahill

Embattled Hudson Valley assemblyman receives more than $80K in donations from insurers and private health care providers.

Theodore Hamm Jun 24

For more, see “Socialism Spreads Upstate, One Door Knock at a Time” by Theodore Hamm and “Wall Street Bets Heavily on Grace Lee. But Is She out of Step with Her District’s Working-Class Voters?” by John Tarleton

When a 12-term incumbent is running scared, the insurgent candidate is clearly doing something right. 

Sarahana Shrestha. Photo: Twitter.

That is the case in the June 28 Democratic primary race in which Sarahana Shrestha is trying to unseat Assemblyman Kevin Cahill in the Hudson Valley district in and around New Paltz and Kingston. 

Shrestha’s campaign is “a power grab,” an indignant Cahill told the New York Times. In his view, DSA-backed candidates like Shrestha are seeking to shake up the status quo in Albany. 

“They mostly have just arrived in the last couple of terms [yet] believe they should be put in charge of the place,” Cahill griped regarding the DSA’s current elected legislators. “And they know they can’t do it unless they occupy more seats,” he added. 

While Cahill is correct in his assessment of the DSA’s path to power, his pay-to-play campaign embodies everything that the socialists foreground in their critiques of Albany’s current status quo. 

Kevin Cahill’s pay-to-play campaign embodies everything that socialists foreground in their critiques of Albany’s current status quo. 

Cahill is chair of the Assembly Insurance Committee. A review of his campaign filings by The Indypendent shows that over one-third of the $240,000 donated to Cahill’s coffers has come from insurers and private health care providers.

In 2018, Cahill voted in favor of the New York Health Act, which creates a single-payer system in the state. However, that vote was merely symbolic, because the Republicans controlled the state senate, meaning the legislation would certainly go nowhere.

Cahill’s current campaign website reaffirms his support for the Health Act but his funding network suggests that he may not be actively pushing for its passage. Are the executive vice president of the Greater NY Hospital Association and the CEO of Montefiore Medical — both of whom gave the maximum donation of $4,700 — contributing to Cahill because he will fight for single-payer? 

An assembly source tells The Indypendent that in general, the insurance industry views Cahill as their ally. 

In 2018 Cahill defended a cartel of title insurers from efforts to rein in marketing practices that sustain their ability to charge the highest rates in the country. During the pandemic, he helped block legislation that would expand insurer premium payouts to small businesses. 

Although it is separate from Cahill’s campaign, an outside spending group called Voters of NY Inc. (a telling name) has already doled out over $80k on the incumbent’s behalf. The entity’s primary funder is Extell, the Manhattan super-tall luxury developer that was a reliable revenue stream for Andrew Cuomo.   Extell pumped a cool $250,000 into the anti-insurgent effort, which is also targeting DSA-backed Vanessa Agudelo, who is running in northern Westchester County. 

The Mid-Hudson DSA is tracking home-stretch large donations to Cahill. We’ll find out soon if the 1%’s money made a difference. 

Read also: Wall Street Bets Heavily on Grace Lee. But Is She out of Step with Her District’s Working-Class Voters?

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