Opinion Editorial on Small Donor Empowerment

New York One (NY1) News

Cuomo Sees No Disconnect Between Campaign Finance Reform, Raising Money For His Re-Election Campaign

Zack Fink
Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Governor Andrew Cuomo is continuing to rake in millions of dollars from wealthy donors.

In the last six months, Cuomo's re-election campaign took in roughly $6 million. He now has a total of nearly $28 million going into 2014.

The new numbers were reported just a few weeks after Cuomo failed to get a campaign finance reform bill passed in Albany.

"If you want to bring reform to Albany, change the culture, you have to lead. You have to lead by example," said Bill Samuels, co-founder of EffectiveNY. "He has not done that."

Advocates for reform said what's even more disturbing about the governor's haul is that it comes mostly from large donors, the largest of which was $625,000. According to an analysis from the New York Public Interest Research Group, small donors contributing less than $1,000 each accounted for only 1 percent of donations.

A reform package promoted by the governor would have encouraged more individual donations and capped contributions at a lower level.

The Democratic State Committee also raised significant amounts of money for the Governor, with a total of $7 million, $5.9 million of that in a so-called "housekeeping account" which is not subject to the same limitations as ordinary ones. Of the housekeeping total, $750,000 was from billionaire George Soros.

Cuomo was asked about the committee's totals in a radio interview.

"Those aren't loopholes. Those are the laws that are written," he said. "So yeah, I live within the laws of the current campaign finance system. I would very much like to change them."

State Senate Democrats, meanwhile, reported raising enough money to begin climbing out of debt.

"We're now down to about $660,000 remaining on an over $3 million debt," said state Senator Michael Gianaris. "We expect that's going to be retired by the end of the year, which should put us on track to be very successful in the election year."

Saying it was the legislature that had no stomach for reform, Cuomo abandoned his effort to get a bill passed before the end of the legislative session and instead appointed an investigative commission. That commission will hold its first public hearing in New York City in September.



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