Jeffrey Hannon, a 34-year-old real estate agent, has alleged that he was catfished by one of Andrew Cuomo’s aides in 2010 on a gay dating website and unintentionally fed him personal information about his family and job
An ex-campaign staffer and nephew of Andrew Cuomo‘s rival has alleged that he was catfished by one of the now-New York governor’s aides on a gay dating website and unintentionally fed him personal information about his family and job.
Jeffrey Hannon, a 34-year-old real estate agent, made the allegations in a lengthy Twitter post on Thursday night as Cuomo faces mounting criticism over COVID-19 nursing home deaths and a tirade against a lawmaker who was critical of his handling of the pandemic.
Hannon, who was 23 at the time, claimed in a 33-tweet thread that he was catfished by the aide during the 2010 gubernatorial election campaign after he and other staffers who were working for his anti-gay uncle Carl Paladino embarrassed Cuomo in front of his daughters on the campaign trail.
He did not reveal the identity of the aide and only said he had his suspicions. Hannon did not offer any evidence as to why he believed a Cuomo aide was responsible.
Cuomo and Hannon did not respond to requests for comment from DailyMail.com about the allegations.
Hannon, who worked on his uncle’s GOP campaign despite being a registered Democrat, insisted that he wasn’t accusing Cuomo of ‘anything illegal or corrupt’ but he believed his story ‘sheds some light on the kind of person he is’.
Hannon already made headlines back in 2010 during the campaign after his uncle caused outrage when he told congregants at a Hasidic Jewish synagogue that homosexuality is ‘not the example that we should be showing our children’. Hannon quit the campaign soon after.
Hannon, who is gay and was living in Buffalo at the time, noted in his tweets that he started working for his uncle’s campaign as an aide and social media coordinator.
Hannon, who was 23 at the time, claimed in a 33-tweet thread that he was catfished by the aide during the 2010 gubernatorial election campaign between his Republican uncle Carl Paladino (left) and then attorney general Andrew Cuomo (right)
Hannon claims was catfished by the aide during the 2010 gubernatorial election campaign after he and other Paladino staffers embarrassed Cuomo in front of his daughters on the campaign trail at an event at the Wyoming County Fair (pictured above)
He said that the Paladino campaign had received a tip during the summer of 2010 that Cuomo, who was attorney general at the time, was going to make a secret stop at the Wyoming County Fair outside Buffalo for a ‘Make New York Great Again’ tour.
‘We jumped at the opportunity to try and get him to take a position on a number of hot-button issues at the time. Up until then he’d avoided actually campaigning and taking any public stances on any issues. He preferred to do press releases in his official capacity as AG,’ Hannon said.
‘We got there just in time, and had a volunteer dress up in a duck costume and hold signs saying Cuomo needs to stop ‘Ducking’ the issues. We all had duck calls and blew them as loud as we could.
‘Looking back, it was juvenile. We embarrassed him in front of his daughters and his entourage of press, staff, and volunteers.’
Hannon said they followed Cuomo and his family around for 10 minutes before the local sheriffs got involved.
‘I remember it like it was yesterday: the look on his face and the anger in his eyes,’ he said.
He claims the alleged catfishing incident occurred soon after.
‘I didn’t think much of it then, but shortly thereafter, I met a man on a gay website who went by the name Daniel Wilhelm. He was so handsome and charming. He was only a few years older than I and was visiting Buffalo for the day for work,’ he said.
‘We exchanged photos right away, traded phone numbers, and started talking on the phone nightly. We really hit it off over the phone. He shared with me some of his deepest and darkest secrets about his childhood and his family, and I did the same.
‘We made plans to meet that always somehow fell apart. I told him about my personal issues with my uncle and my work drama, including issues with campaign co-workers. Some of our conversations would last for hours and go until 2 or 3 a.m.
‘I fell in love with him.
Hannon said he and Paladino supporters had dressed up in duck costumes and carried signs saying: ‘Cuomo needs to stop ‘Ducking’ the issues’ at the fair. Hannon said they followed Cuomo around for 10 minutes embarrassing him before sheriffs got involved. Pictured is Paladino supporter in September 2010 protesting near where Cuomo was giving a news conference
Hannon, who was 23 at the time, claimed in a 33-tweet thread that he was catfished by the aide during the 2010 gubernatorial election campaign. His social media page at the time is pictured above
Hannon, pictured on the left, is now 34 and works as a real estate agent in New York City
Hannon claims his conversations with Daniel continued through August before he suddenly vanished and his phone went straight to voicemail and his online account was deleted.
He said the following month, his uncle won the Republican primary. A few weeks after that was when Paladino made the remarks to the Jewish synagogue.
Hannon described his uncle’s comments as ‘disgusting homophobic statements’.
‘Within the hour I started to receive texts and phone calls. First it was from family and friends, then the press. And then the next day, out of the blue, Daniel Wilhelm reappeared,’ Hannon said.
‘He had interviews already lined up for me with his friends at People Magazine, Good Morning America, and CNN, and wanted to fly me down to NYC that night to tell my story. I immediately hung up after realizing what had happened.
‘Daniel’s phone number was deactivated, his photo was of some male model, and his stories were all made up. I had been tricked. I was devastated, heartbroken. I felt so vulnerable and violated.
‘Not only had I been catfished, but I had also unintentionally been feeding this man all sorts of deeply personal information about me and my family.
‘I will remember Daniel’s voice for the rest of my life. I have my suspicions who that person is, but it’s not even important at this point. The bottom line is what kind of person would catfish a 23-year old to win a campaign.’
Hannon said he didn’t share what had happened at the time because he was ashamed that he had used the gay website because it was ‘primarily used for hooking up’.
He said he still felt shame for working on his uncle’s campaign in light of Paladino’s gay comments and insisted he wasn’t sharing his story now because of ‘sour grapes’.
Hannon said he hadn’t had anything to do with his uncle politically since the campaign.
Despite being a registered Democrat, supporting Barack Obama and interning for NY Gov Eliot Spitzer in college, Hannon said he believed ‘with all my heart’ that Paladino was going to clean up the state government.
He said he joined the campaign after becoming fed up with ‘NY State’s corrupt Democratic party machine’ and was infuriated when the state senate failed to pass the marriage equality in 2009.
Hannon’s twitter feed is filled with criticism of Cuomo.
His allegations regarding the Cuomo aide came in a week where the governor continues to face scrutiny over his administration’s handling of nursing home data amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Cuomo, who has become known for slamming those who oppose him, drew fresh condemnation this week in the wake of a tirade against Assembly member Ron Kim after he questioned his handling of the pandemic.
Kim told reporters on Wednesday that when Cuomo called him February 11 to complain about a quote he’d given to the New York Post, the conversation devolved into a stream of threats.
Kim said Cuomo yelled at him and threatened to ‘destroy’ him if he didn’t get the paper to retract a statement in which he said the administration admitted it was withholding data about deaths in nursing homes because it was ‘trying to dodge having any incriminating evidence’ that might get it in trouble with the Justice Department.
Days later, Cuomo appeared to follow through, castigating Kim during a conference call with reporters as chronically unethical.
Cuomo’s staff strongly denied that a threat to ‘destroy’ Kim was made. His spokesperson, who was listening to the February 11 call, called Kim a habitual liar, and said the governor was just trying to defend himself against a false accusation of a cover up.
Kim’s story, however, prompted sympathy from other Democrats who said that they, too, had been on the receiving end of similar blasts from Cuomo.
‘Many times,’ said New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, whose punching-bag relationship with the governor has been a running story in state politics.
‘I don’t think it’s just government,’ de Blasio said.
‘A number of your colleagues in the media will tell you about calls where they were berated and belittled. It’s something that a lot of people in New York state have known about for a long time. I can’t get into the why. That’s a deeper question, I can only say it’s a very unfortunate way to treat people.’
Cuomo has long defended his hard-edged strategy as effective politics.
‘This is a governor who works night and day to move the ball down the field for New Yorkers and they know that, which is why he has been elected and re-elected three times over the last 10 years,’ his senior advisor, Rich Azzopardi, said in a statement in the aftermath of the Kim controversy.
Separately, the Justice Department has been examining the governor’s COVID-19 task force and are trying to determine whether the state intentionally manipulated data regarding deaths in nursing homes, two sources told The Associated Press this week.
In recent weeks, Cuomo’s administration revealed that 15,000 long-term care residents have died, up from the 8,500 previously disclosed.
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, also told Democratic lawmakers that the administration delayed releasing data to the legislature about the deaths because officials ‘froze’ over worries the information was ‘going to be used against us’ by the Justice Department.
Azzopardi said Wednesday that it wasn’t true that the administration had withheld records from the Justice Department, though he acknowledged that some data requested in October had taken time to collect and produce.
‘We responded to the entire August request and have been in the process of responding to the October request on a rolling basis as suggested by the Department of Justice at the time, with a production as recent as January 8, 2021,’ Azzopardi said.
‘As we publicly said, DOJ has been looking into this for months. We have been cooperating with them and we will continue to.’