Andrew Cuomo’s girlfriend Sandra Lee might have skirted property taxes, permit rules.

Obviously, around this blog, we’re waiting with bated breath for the 2016 Democratic primary because it will be the first primary in history to likely feature a Food Network celebrity chef whose most notable claim to fame is a daily signature cocktail that she spends more time preparing on her show than any actual food.

Sandra Lee, of Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, is Andrew Cuomo’s live in girlfriend, and when he challenges Hillary, she’s going to be front and center. And, hopefully by then, they’ll have squared away her little property permit problem that Cuomo seems to have helped her take care of.

(Town Inspector William) Maskiell said he began investigating in late 2011 after driving by the home and noticing changes to the property, including a new gazebo and a building shed, Mr. Maskiell said. He said the renovations that Ms. Lee described in interviews in Elle Decor, USA Today and other publications would have likely needed permits.

He said he reached out to Ms. Lee in writing and soon a government representative of Mr. Cuomo returned his inquiries.

“I sent out a notice to Ms. Lee. And a gentleman, I guess he worked for the governor, got back to me,” Mr. Maskiell said. “He asked me what was required in terms of building permits.”

The Journal-News identified the official as Larry Schwartz, Mr. Cuomo’s highest-ranking aide.

Six months later, when the Cuomo aide hadn’t returned Mr. Maskiell’s phone calls and emails requesting more information about the property, the building inspector said he got fed up. “After months of that, it was enough, so I sent a violation notice,” he said. “We had to act on it.”

Mr. Maskiell said the violations were for failure to secure building and wetland permits. Town records weren’t available for inspection on Sunday.

The renovations Ms. Lee speak of include an update to an 80s-era bathroom, installing parallel white marble islands in the kitchen, installing a “wall of windows,” joining two adjacent spaces into one much larger one, installing a backyard shed and gazebo, and remodeling the entire basement of the six-bedroom, $1.2 million home she shares with Cuomo. Cuomo’s top aide, who fielded questions on the topic and used time paid for by the taxpayer to defend Lee, called the modifications “merely cosmetic.”

That doesn’t seem to pan out with the eventual solution, however, since it seems Lee paid an additional $1,000 to purchase retroactive building permits, a fee required only if the permits pertain to major household renovations. Of course, it’s good news they did that, because had they done major renovations that affected the property value, no settlement could mean she and Cuomo (who lived there while the renovations were going on) might be trying to skirt an assessment.

  1. Anthony Bialy
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