ALBANY – Facing mounting criticism for mixing politics and the World Series, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo canceled plans Wednesday night to hold a $5,500 per person fundraiser during two games this weekend at Citi Field when the New York Mets return to Queens for the start of their home stand.
The governor, who took a private jet on a Long Island-based charter service with the owners of the Mets to the first game of the World Series Tuesday night in Kansas City, said he was canceling the Friday and Saturday night fundraisers because of an “overwhelming demand for tickets” to the games. His campaign on Monday sent email invitations to donors asking for contributions of $5,500 apiece to attend a pregame reception and seats for either Game Three or Four or the World Series when it returns to New York this weekend.
Word of the scrubbed fundraiser was released during Wednesday night’s game in Kansas City.
Government reform groups this week criticized Cuomo for the timing of the events, saying they showed how deep-pocket contributors could gain access to New York government’s chief executive in ways ordinary New Yorkers could not. New York Post editorial writers Wednesday likened Cuomo to a ticket scalper.
“Given the overwhelming demand for tickets for Friday and Saturday night’s games, we have decided to reschedule this weekend’s events to a future date so that more tickets are available,” a Cuomo campaign spokesman said in a written statement Wednesday night.
The Cuomo campaign previously declined to provide details about how it got the sought-after tickets to give to donors, other than to say the campaign bought the tickets directly from the Mets organization. The campaign, officials said, is going to pay for the costs of the flights and the tickets to the game in Kansas City for Cuomo and two of his top aides.
A Cuomo campaign spokesman said 20 tickets that were set aside for donors have been returned to the Mets to be re-sold. It was not immediately certain if there were any other tickets purchased by the campaign that were kept for some other use besides the now-cancelled fundraiser.