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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Cuomo Contributions Shocking, and Not

Governor Cuomo has amassed some $33 million for his re-election campaign against a yet-to-be determined Republican opponent who figures to be either an unknown, or a joke.  For entertainment purposes, please let it be the latter.

The list of the governor's larger donors was released this past week, and it's rather mind boggling, in scope, content, and context.  We talked a couple of posts ago about how it may not be "shocking" that Cuomo didn't mention horse racing or Saratoga when he discussed the upstate economy, but that it continues to be shocking to the senses.  Similarly, the money game in politics is old hat, and we hardly blink an eye when we read the details.  But still, upon further thought (and not too much required), it's still shocking to any common senses that individuals and entities with pending business before the state are able to pour cash so openly and brazenly into the coffers of the politicians who will decide their fate.

We'll hear the usual from the politicians about how they make their own decisions and are not influenced.  And, in this case, we hear the governor confirm that he is in fact in favor of campaign finance reform, and against the loopholes that allow entities to far exceed the supposed limits on contributions.  " At least 41 donors have exploited various loopholes to give Governor Cuomo more than the purported $60,800 contribution limit," noted the NY Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG).  To which Cuomo's office cynically noted: "Gov. Cuomo abides by the same rules as everyone else while leading the charge to change them.”

I suppose that, maybe, real estate developers such as Leonard Litwin ($800,000) or The Richman Group ($264,000) can justify their contributions on the basis that the policies of the Cuomo administration have created a favorable environment for their business that they wish to continue for another four years.  But when it comes to lawyers and lobbyists, what other rationale could there be other than ensuring that they will have a willing and open ear in the governor's mansion?  Even if they have no specific issue in mind, I'd imagine they want to make sure they don't cross the governor and end up with a massive traffic jam in their town.

Then there are organizations such as Ultimate Fighting Productions ($115,000).  The matter of mixed martial arts in New York State is one which is very much in play in the capitol, and one which Cuomo has expressed guarded support for.  Just guarded enough to make sure that contributions from the group continue to flow.

And what exactly does Jeff Gural ($56,000) have in mind?  He's a Democrat who I saw a couple of years ago talking in favor of higher taxes on the rich on a show hosted by a certain conservative - I won't mention her name because I might then violate my resolution to be nice and not call people names - so I suppose he may just be interested in progressive issues that this governor may - or may not - support. However, as we know, Gural has direct business pending before the state, in the form of the casino that he wants for his Tioga Downs facility....the fate of which will be decided by the siting committee that will be appointed by the Gaming Commission made up entirely of Cuomo appointees.

We also see Saratoga Gaming Resources LLC ($40,000) on the list.  I imagine there are other casino entities there, either under a name that's not immediately recognizable, or under the $40,000 cutoff for this particular list, no doubt.

The Times reported last weekend on the "surprise" opposition to the casino in Saratoga.  Little surprise though that the racino employees came out in favor of the expansion.  Yeah, I'm sure they don't feel any pressure from their employer to do so, right?  I would think that the prospect of significant change and more hiring would actually make employees feel less secure in their jobs, not more.

1 Comment:

Jim O said...

Wouldn't you rather a Republican - no matter how unknown he/she may be right now - who knows from horses, than what we have now in that office?