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Today’s feel-good news: Donors abandoning Cuomo over scandal-plagued performance

Who says the media only reports bad news? Today’s Wall Street Journal gives us a sunny-side up report on Andrew Cuomo’s effort to win a fourth term for his scandal-drenched governance of New York. Suddenly, the draw of Cuomo’s brass-knuckles charm and seeming invincibility has waned substantially:

Mr. Cuomo is starting to lose some of his major donors, suffering defections in recent weeks that could complicate an expected re-election bid as he fights off a state sexual harassment probe and a federal investigation into how his administration handled Covid-19 in nursing homes.

The desertions are a worrying sign for a governor who has sought to project strength through one of the rockiest stretches of his 11 years as governor. Mr. Cuomo raised $2.3 million over the past six months–the second-smallest haul of any such period of his governorship, according to campaign finance disclosures filed last week. For the first time, he was outraised by a Republican rival, U.S. Rep. Lee Zeldin, who announced a gubernatorial bid in April.

Jeff Gural, a real-estate developer and casino owner who has previously given $175,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaigns, says he is turning his back on the Democratic governor because he doesn’t like the way he conducts business and has felt threatened to donate in the past. Mr. Gural said recent reports about the governor’s alleged harassment–which Mr. Cuomo has denied–were concerning and he was unhappy with how the state decided to legalize mobile sports betting.

“He’s smart, but he’s a bully and his tactics are a disgrace. And people should know how he runs the state,” Mr. Gural said.

To be fair, most of these wealthy donors got exactly what they paid for in their donations to Cuomo. In 2019, the left-wing site Public Accountability Initiative analyzed Cuomo’s financial support in his gubernatorial campaigns, and found out that billionaires and their wannabes got pretty good value for their money:

  • A majority of New York State’s wealthiest billionaires are Andrew Cuomo donors. Out of 84 New York billionaires, 49 with a combined net worth of $280.6 billion have made individual campaign contributions to Governor Cuomo since 2002.
  • New York billionaires and their spouses have given more than $4.1 million in individual contributions to Cuomo’s political campaigns. New York’s 49 billionaire Cuomo donors and their spouses have given at least $4,165,600 to Cuomo’s campaigns. This total does not include contributions from LLCs, corporations, and other entities these billionaires control or contributions to PACs supporting Cuomo.
  • Dozens of Cuomo’s billionaire donors have direct interests in state tax and regulatory policies. Billionaire Cuomo donors include 19 hedge fund billionaires, 15 real estate billionaires, six fossil fuel billionaires and others invested in banks, pharmaceuticals and cannabis.

So that may explain why the news hasn’t been all bad — er, good — on the fundraising front for King Andrew. Despite all of the negative publicity from the multitude of scandals reeking in the Albany air, Cuomo still raised over $2 million last quarter — although a good chunk of that went to his attorneys:

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo raised over $2 million from some of New York’s top donors despite being accused of sexual harassment by former aides.

Cuomo’s reelection campaign also paid his attorney’s firm, Glavin PLLC, over $280,000 while he was under investigation by the the New York state attorney general’s office for alleged sexual misconduct. Cuomo has denied wrongdoing. …

Stephen Ross, a billionaire and the chair of real estate giant Related Companies, gave $25,000 to Cuomo in late June. Ross also owns the Miami Dolphins. Laurance Rockefeller Jr., a member of the ultrawealthy Rockefeller family, gave $10,000 that same month. Cuomo hosted a big money campaign fundraising event last month and Rockefeller told the Associated Press at the time that he was sticking with Cuomo.

“We have due process in this country,” Rockefeller said.

Yes, we have due process in this country — for prosecuting crimes and settling civil torts. For elections, however, all we’re required to do is use our judgment. The basic requirement for public office shouldn’t be “a jury hasn’t convicted him yet.” That’s an absurd excuse for supporting a politician who has already proven corrupt just in the course of Cuomo’s ridiculously and vacuously self-congratulatory book on pandemic leadership — using taxpayer resources to enrich himself while simultaneously covering up the evidence of his incompetence. That’s what Rockefeller is funding.

Perhaps the tide is turning somewhat in New York against Cuomo. By this point, it’s apparent that the useless state legislature wants to run out the clock on Cuomo rather than conduct a real investigation into his abuses. The best we can hope for at this point is that Cuomo’s fundraising allies find a better candidate to back in 2022.

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