Governor Cuomo has been dealing with some negative press surrounding his connections to the Committee to Save New York. The collaboration of business groups has been the biggest supporter of the Governor's agenda and a report out Tuesday suggests that members of the Cuomo administration might have asked gambling interests to give their money to the lobbying group. Capital Tonight reporter Nick Reisman has the story.
NEW YORK STATE -- As first reported by The New York Times, groups representing wealthy gambling interests poured in millions of dollars to the Committee to Save New York, a coalition of business and real-estate groups aligned with Governor Andrew Cuomo's agenda. The money came only a month before the governor pushed heavily for an expansion of casino gambling in his second State of the State address. The report raises questions as to whether the administration and the committee are working together.
“I think that numerous groups have already asserted that the committee is an extension of the governor's campaign has been for quite some time,” said Ron Deutsche, New Yorkers For Fiscal Fairness.
Days before the news broke, Cuomo distanced himself from the gaming interest, saying talks had broken down to build a casino and convention center in Queens and he sharply criticized the operation of racinos. He also said it was difficult to take the money out of the process of locating up to seven casinos should gambling be expanded.
“They are multibillion dollar enterprises. They spend because there are billions of dollars on the table. Just let a commission do it,” Cuomo said.
The Committee to Save New York was formed last year to counteract the expected pushback from labor groups that have opposed fiscal reforms. With the committee's help, Cuomo pushed through a property tax cap, a cheaper pension system and spending cuts. The group has released a tax filing showing 74 individual donations totaling $17.5 million in 2011 alone, far outpacing any other lobbying operation in New York. And it's unclear when the groups will be required to release the names of their donors.
“Under the ethics law which passed last year, it's very unclear as to when exactly these regulations will take effect and what time period would need to be disclosed. We might need to see every donor from the past year or we might not see any donors for a couple of months going forward,” said NYPIRG researcher Bill Mahoney.
CSNY spokesman Michael McKeon told us in an email exchange that the committee will follow all disclosure laws, but has no plans to proactively release its donor list before the regulations take effect.