New York – Andrew Cuomo, who has been running a gubernatorial campaign against Albany’s special interests, possesses a political bank account with growing sums of money from business and union groups that have long dominated power in Albany.
Cuomo raised $9.2 million so far this year from a who’s who of Albany special interests, helped along by large individual donations from Wall Street executives, attorneys, hedge fund managers, real estate developers and some of Manhattan’s wealthiest residents.
The attorney general’s fund to finance his gubernatorial run also was assisted by energy companies and groups representing restaurants, health care companies, distillers and soft drink company interests — entities all facing major issues this year in Albany. Dozens of unions poured money into his campaign, including Teamsters, carpenters, communication industry workers and the politically potent Local 1199 health care workers union.
While the big money flowed from tony addresses in Manhattan, Buffalo tossed cash his way, too, including $100,000 from Delaware North’s Jeremy Jacobs and his wife, Margaret. Local politicians, lawyers and lobbyists also gave; digging deepest was former Buffalo Mayor Anthony Masiello, a lobbyist in Albany, who tapped his former campaign account to give Cuomo $30,000. (The current mayor, Byron Brown, passed over as Cuomo’s lieutenant governor candidate, gave Cuomo $1,000.)
With the additional $9.2 million, Democrat Cuomo’s campaign fund now stands at $23.7 million, according to the most recent filing with the state Board of Elections.
The financial showings were not good news for the Republican Party’s official candidate. Rick Lazio found himself trailing badly in the money race as well as the polls.
Lazio raised $1.67 million during the period, and has only $689,000 in the bank; Cuomo’s cash in the bank is nearly 35 times that amount. A Lazio campaign official said the Republican is not worried and has a “packed” schedule of upcoming fundraisers.
Carl Paladino, who is mounting a GOP primary challenge against Lazio, reported on Thursday that he had raised $1.7 million — with $1.6 million of that coming from his own personal funds. He has just $53,000 in the bank, but has vowed to spend up to $10 million of his own fortune.
Pointing to Cuomo’s latest campaign filing, the Lazio campaign Friday sought to poke holes in his self-dubbed anti-Albany campaign.
“Andrew Cuomo’s campaign account is bloated with the needs of special interests,” said Barney Keller, a Lazio spokesman. “Maybe Andrew Cuomo can take some of his special interest money and give tax relief to the people of New York.”
In response to questions about special-interest contributions, the Cuomo campaign noted the attorney general’s record over the past 3 years as the state’s chief lawyer. “Andrew Cuomo has demonstrated his independence from special interests and others who have contributed to his campaign. Anyone who thinks they are getting anything other than good government is flat-out wrong,” said Josh Vlasto, a Cuomo spokesman.
Lazio, a former Long Island congressman who also has been a lobbyist for JPMorgan Chase, has his deep-pocket connections, too, though nowhere near Cuomo’s level. Lazio’s biggest contributor this year — besides the $200,000 he loaned his campaign — is Richard Gelfond, the chief of IMAX Corp., who gave him $52,000.
Lazio also tapped his former colleagues on Wall Street, such as former Goldman Sachs chief John Whitehead, who gave $23,000. Locally, M&T Bank’s political action committee donated $4,000 to Lazio.
But Cuomo has dozens of donors who top the $10,000 level in giving. Wall Street financier Mark B. Fisher gave him $25,000, private equity investor Henry Silverman tossed in $55,900 and Manhattan construction mogul Daniel Tischman and his wife donated $50,000.
Alexander Rovt of Brooklyn, dubbed last year the “fertilizer kingpin” by Forbes magazine, gave Cuomo $40,000, and billionaire investor Ron Burkle of Los Angeles gave $55,900. Howard Lutnick, chairman of Cantor Fitzgerald, the financial firm that lost 658 workers in the World Trade Center attacks, gave $55,000, and his wife added $36,000. Hedge fund executive Marc Lasry and his wife gave $111,800, and Greenwich, Conn., real estate developer Richard Richman and his wife contributed $70,000.
Former officials in the administration of Gov. Mario Cuomo, the candidate’s father, also donated, including Salvatore Curiale, who gave $25,000, and Gerald Crotty, who donated $10,000. James Featherstonhaugh, a lobbying titan, donated $10,000.
Locally, former Erie County control board chairman Robert Glaser gave Cuomo $5,000, and local attorneys Gerald Lippes and Francis Letro gave $2,500 apiece. Tim Gill, who is involved in efforts to legalize gay marriage in New York, donated $10,000.
The liquor industry, which recently beat back efforts in the Legislature for grocery stores to sell wine, donated to Cuomo, as did soft drink workers, who halted Gov. David Paterson’s plans for a sugar-flavored beverage tax. Chiropractors donated to him, as did big insurance and real estate firms.
Also donating were members of Congress, who face new district lines being drawn next year in a process overseen by the governor. They included Rep. Brian Higgins, who gave $5,000.
Michael Caputo, Paladino’s campaign manager, said the interests pumping money into Cuomo’s campaign should worry residents.
“Andrew Cuomo talks a big reform game from one side of his mouth, but from the other he’s asking for donations from the very special interests we’ve all complained about,” Caputo said. “It’s no secret that when you take a donation from one of these legacy special interests, they expect a quid pro quo.”