By Tom Precious
ALBANY – They’ve done their best to keep things secret, but little by little more is coming out about who has been donating to a Manhattan-based group that has helped push Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s political agenda in Albany.
The latest revelation comes today courtesy of The New York Times about a donation to the Committee to Save New York by a real estate company that had been under investigation by Cuomo when he was the state’s attorney general.
The group has been called by critics a political front organization for the governor by raising millions of dollars in secret and then spending it on major advertising campaigns to boost his policy agenda and poll numbers.
Today’s story in the Times says Fisher Brothers gave the Cuomo support organization $500,000; it noted the firm was among those examined during Cuomo’s time as attorney general during a sweeping probe into allegations of wrongdoing at the state’s pension fund for government workers. The Cuomo administration dismissed the story’s premise, saying Fisher Brothers engaged in no misconduct that warranted any legal action during that pension fund scandal when it was headed by former state Comptroller Alan Hevesi.
The Committee to Save New York is exempt from having to report millions of dollars it raised during its formative period after Cuomo was elected governor, though it, and other groups like it, will have some limited disclosure requirements in the future.
The Buffalo News earlier this year broke a story that $800,000 in donations by Western New York business interests was funneled through the Buffalo Niagara Partnership to the Committee to Save New York. Officials with the Buffalo commerce group have declined to name the donors of checks that were bundled and given as a group to the Manhattan organization.
Besides various real estate interests, the Times also reported earlier this year that casino interests donated $2 million to the committee at a time when the governor and lawmakers have been considering a dramatic expansion in gambling.