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Corporate Welfare And Cuomo


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:



  • Tell the Truth

    Public financing of political campaigns is not the answer. Since when is the pubic responsible for dolling out hard earned $$ to political candidates? Only true campaign reform laws and severe punishments for those who find loopholes around them will solve NY’s problems.

    Just this week another Assemblyman from downstate was convicted of corruption.

    • UncleBluck

      Cuomo is just a wolf in sheeps clothing. He is no different than a Republican. He represents what is wrong with both political parties and our corrupt govt in general. He is owned by the corporations, the rich and special interests. As far as the Safe Act….just appeasement to the Dems to keep them voting for him. He is playing both ends and it is amazing that anyone would vote for the guy……and our other choice will now be the “comb-over racist bigot” …..what a wonderful choice we have here in NY ……..

    • rhmaccallum

      One answer is obvious. Put real, enforced limits on the total that any one candidate or group can spend in an election. Then, go back to an old policy. Require every broadcast network on radio and TV and every print paper to run, free of charge a certain amount of public service hours directed at elections. Things like debates or overviews of actual voting records, etc.
      Let that be the campaign in whole for each and every. End campaign war chests and money from special interests.

  • The only way to eliminate corruption and corporate influence is to limit the power of government, combined with token salaries for elected positions. Then, we can have a government of the people, by the people and for the people.

    • UncleBluck

      Mike…..That the way it was originally and then our elected officials started voting themselves raises/pensions etc……..

    • BufChester

      I’m sorry, how does limiting to power of government reduce the influence of corporations?

      • Myriad regulations invite corruption by providing legislators/regulators the opportunity to sell their influence to the highest bidder.

      • BufChester

        So, it’s government’s fault that corporations bribe public officials?

      • It takes two to tango. Of course it’s government’s fault for allowing it to happen.

      • BufChester

        So there should be rigorous enforcement of anti-corruption/bribery regulations for both those seeking influence and those offering it?

      • Power is the carrot, eliminate the power and the carrot is gone.

      • BufChester

        So we shouldn’t enforce the anti-corruption laws, we should shrink the power of government so that corporations can do what they want without the need/incentive to bribe government officials?

        That seems like an opportunity for more corporate influence, not eliminating it as you initially promised.

      • “Seems like” is your operative phrase but in reality that is completely illogical. Voluntary associations, combined with the protection of property rights, would preclude corporations from doing whatever they want.

      • BufChester

        Wouldn’t a volunteer group be susceptible to bribery too?

        If the corporation’s response to back pressure is to bribe the entity exerting the pressure wouldn’t they bride whoever that was, unless there was no effective pressure, in which case they would have unimpeded influence.

        Take a situation where you’re storing hundreds of thousands of gallons of dangerous chemicals a few miles upstream from the water intake for hundreds of thousands of people. Should the inspection of those tanks be left entirely to the corporate owners and/or a group of volunteers?

      • jimd54

        This is magical thinking. Sorry.

  • jimd54

    I’m wondering if this illustrates another way in which the income gap represents itself. Maybe if the top tier wasn’t awash in money they would be less inclined to piss it away on campaign contributions.

    • BufChester


  • ralphyboy

    This is Andy’s ethics reform: toothless, nutless, and without a conscience. $38,000/day. If Wonderhair gets in as nominee, this race may make 2010 look like The Rapture.

  • George Wiig

    Revolting. All this money spent on corporate welfare should instead be spent on fighting climate change and pollution by investing in public transportation. We should extend the Buffalo Metro Rail into the West Side and the suburbs.

    Contribution limits should be significantly reduced, public financing of campaign implemented, the Disclose Act enacted, and, most importantly, new blood in Albany.