Catsimatidis & Cuomo

Mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis and Governor Andrew Cuomo have a long relationship, with Catsimatidis, his wife and his companies contributing more than $200,000 to Andrew Cuomo’s campaigns over the past 12 years.  Catsimatidis has asserted that a significant reason that he “would make a good mayor” is his “ability to call up and talk to the governor and come up with common sense solutions.”   As part of that argument, Catsimatidis has described being called upon by Governor Cuomo to assist in getting Republican votes in the U.S. Senate for the Hurricane Sandy relief bills (here and here).

As part of an effort to better understand Catsimatidis’s relationship with Governor Cuomo, we looked at his campaign contributions to Cuomo.  In addition to his own and his wife’s personal contributions of over $200,000, at least three companies controlled by Catsimatidis have made contributions to Cuomo.  In it’s latest filing, Andrew Cuomo 2014, Inc. reported an aggregate of $9,500 of in-kind contributions from “United Refining Inc.” and “United of Pennsylvania Co.” on June 15th.  A Catsimatidis campaign spokesperson confirmed that  those contributions were for use of a company airplane by Governor Cuomo on a round trip between Albany and Binghamton.  (Here’s a report by Bill Hammond on a prior in-kind aircraft usage contribution by Catsimatidis.)  Prior contributions by similarly named, and related, Catsimatidis entities include:  $5,000 by “United Refining Company” to Andrew Cuomo for Attorney General, Inc. in January 2002, $5,000 by “United Refining Inc.” to Andrew Cuomo for Attorney General, Inc. in June 2006 and the above-described in-kind contributions of $5,000 by “United Refining Inc.” and $4,500 by “United of Pennsylvania Co.” to Andrew Cuomo 2014, Inc. in June 2013.

Here’s a wrinkle that we came across:  In 2009, sandwiched in the middle of those contributions, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo appears to have investigated “United Refining Company” as part of a broader investigation of possible price fixing of gasoline in western New York.  A limited set of court documents available on the Attorney General’s website detail a heated dispute between the Attorney General and United Refining Company over the AG’s attempts at getting information from United Refining Company.  The documents do not reveal the ultimate outcome of that investigation, but they do contain assertions from the Attorney General that “[t]he Attorney General has direct evidence that [United Refining Company] may be engaged in illegal price fixing of gasoline.”  The Attorney General described United Refining Company’s responses to the AG’s information requests as “grossly deficient” and “obstructionist behavior”.

A Catsimatidis campaign spokesperson told me today that, after United Refining Company complied with the document demands as ordered by the NY State Supreme Court in 2009,  United Refining Company heard nothing further from the Attorney General’s office concerning this investigation.