Cuomo and Corporate Welfare

The Andrew Cuomo campaign account is now up to an astonishing $33.3 million dollars. Cuomo has amassed the largest war chest among all Governor’s in the nation. After Cuomo Governor Brown in California is a distant second with $10 million in his campaign account.

Cuomo likes to portray himself as the man of the people concerned about your average citizen, but the fact of the matter is that he is bankrolled by wealthy special interests that all want something in return. The New York Public Interest Research Group has done an analysis of Cuomo’s contributors.

  • More than 80 percent of Cuomo’s money has come from donors who have given aggregate totals of $10,000 or more;
  • Only 0.69 percent of his money has come from individuals who have given aggregate totals of less than $1,000;
  • 242 donors have given Cuomo $40,000 or more.

Cuomo’s top 10 donors consisting primarily of real estate developers are:

  1. Holdings of Leonard Litwin $800,000.00
  2. The Richman Group Inc. $264,000.00
  3. Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Feldman $200,000.00
  4. Extell Development $200,000.00
  5. Cablevision & Holdings $165,000.00
  6. H.J. Kalikow & CO LLC and Peter Kalikow $150,000.00
  7. Alvin Benjamin and the Benjamin Companies $150,000.00
  8. Empire Merchants LLC and Empire Merchants North LLC $121,600.00
  9. Katz, Adam & Holdings $121,542.00
  10. Comcast/NBC $121,500.00

In New York there is supposed to be a limit that a donor can give to a state wide candidate in the amount of $60,800. New York’s limit of $60,800 is the highest in the nation, yet wealthy special interests by exploiting loopholes in campaign finance laws can give obscene amounts of money as the list above shows. Why would someone seek ways around the law to give Cuomo more than $60,000? If you think people give such sums of money because they are looking for good government, you don’t understand how politics and government works in New York.

Let’s look at one recent example of a large campaign contribution and the benefit received. Extell Development funneled $100,000 to Cuomo through affiliates days before Cuomo signed legislation providing tax breaks for an apartment building owned by the company in New York City. Three weeks later Extell’s CEO donated $100,000 to the New York State Democratic Committee, which frequently spends money on Cuomo’s behalf. What did Extell get for their $200,000 campaign contribution? A tax break on their apartment building worth $35 million. Extell’s Ceo’s name does not show up on any finance contribution records searched back to 1999. Suddenly he makes a substantial contribution and suddenly he obtains a $35 million dollar tax break.

Lets connect the dots. Running for office is expensive and politicians spend huge amounts of their time seeking cash. Wealthy special interests are willing to provide cash to politicians but they expect something in return. Believe it or not New York State doles out $7 billion per year in grants and tax breaks to corporations under the guise of creating jobs. The next best thing to money for politicians is cutting ribbons on business projects.Study after study by the New York State Comptrollers Office and others shows over and over that the number of jobs promised for projects receiving business grants and tax breaks rarely comes close to reality.

The money train continues because it is the only way politicians from town supervisors to Governors can raise the cash to obtain and maintain the power they so desperately seek. This is how the pay to play game is played. Cuomo apparently has mastered it well. Government decisions should not be made based on political contributions. One way to change this system is to support public financing of elections. If you are interested in learning more about public financing see a previous post below:

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