Cuomo’s Cash – A Closer Look

Here is a close look at Andrew Cuomo 2014, Inc.’s January 2013 campaign finance report.  (You can read my analysis of Governor Cuomo’s previous filing, in July 2012, here.)

1.  Two Wrongs Can Make A Right.

The governor’s filing violates Section 14-108(2) of the Election Law by not including over $300,000 received during the legally mandated reporting period.  How do I know that?

Because the governor erroneously reported those contributions in his prior filing, in July 2012.

As I described in my analysis of Cuomo 2014’s July 2012 filing:

Cuomo 2014 lists over $300,000 in contributions, and a single contribution refund, on July 13th. Including those transactions in this report is plainly contrary to the Election Law, which sets out the time requirements in Section 14-108(2), stating that “[e]ach statement shall cover the period up to and including the fourth day next preceding the day specified for the filing thereof”. For this filing, the BOE states that the due date was July 16th and the cut-off date was July 12th. Under the Election Law, contributions received by a campaign after July 12th should therefor be reported in the next filing. I looked at the formal opinions of the BOE and did not see any that were relevant, so there does not appear to be any legal authority for violating this statute. Cuomo 2014 appears to similarly violate this statute in many of its filings.

Cuomo 2014 erroneously included contributions received on July 13, 2012 in it’s July 2012 filing.  Those contributions should have instead been included in Cuomo 2014’s January 2013 filing.  In terms of the legally mandated requirements of the two relevant reports, Cuomo 2014 violated the Election Law on both.  In terms of public disclosure of contributions, and not counting any contribution twice, the second violation essentially offsets the first, with a net outcome that those contributions were disclosed and were only listed in the campaign’s Board of Election filings once.  Contrary to my mother’s frequent admonition, sometimes two wrongs can make a right, sort of.

For the end of this filing period, the cutoff date was January 11, 2013, and all contributions received from January 12th on are to be reported in the July 2013 filing.  Cuomo 2014 complies with that cutoff, with the last listed contributions in this filing dated January 11th.

Will Cuomo 2014 prospectively fully comply with Section 14-108(2) of the Election Law?  Check back with us in July.

2.  Specific Contributors.

Here are a few notes on contributors who caught my eye:

  • Christophe Hein:  Schedule A lists five July entries with negative amounts and each described as an “uncollected check”, with Christophe Hein the largest (or smallest?) at “-$10,000”.  The July 2012 filing lists a $10,000 contribution from Christophe Hein with the same check number as this “uncollected check.”  I do not have any insight into the underlying events, but sticking Andrew Cuomo with an “uncollected check” for $10,000 seems like an undesirable place to be.  As a minor procedural note, I think that these items should instead be on Schedule M – Contributions Refunded.  (-$10,000 7/20/12).
  • Joel Klein:  Presumably the former NYC schools chancellor who worked closely with Mayor Bloomberg for 8 years.  ($10,000 12/27/12).
  • Steven Pigeon:  This appears to be the longtime political operative and state senate coup player.  In the aftermath of the 2009 state senate coup, he was Pedro Espada’s senate counsel.  As attorney general, Andrew Cuomo filed a civil fraud case against Pedro Espada and worked with the U.S. Attorney in bringing federal criminal charges against Espada related to Espada’s Soundview Health Network.  Espada was later convicted of those federal criminal charges.    More memories herehere and here.  ($50,000 1/8/13).
  • News America Incorporated:  News America Incorporated is a subsidiary of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation. (Joel Klein is a senior executive of News Corporation.)  ($2,000 11/19/12).  Since 2010, News America Incorporated has contributed $10,000 to New York State candidates; $9,000 to Andrew Cuomo and $1,000 to Eric Schneiderman.
  • Citigroup Inc. PAC:  As happened with Bank of America, times change and former investigatees sometimes decide to join the team.  ($20,300 and $4,700 12/28/12).

3.  Other Items.

  • Schedule E – Other Receipts:  This schedule reports interest income on 12/31/12 only.  According to the report, the campaign only received interest on its substantial cash balances once in the six month period.  That seems unusual.
  • Schedule F – Expenditures:  Total expenditures were just under $700,000.  The overall amount of spending is generally consistent with prior periods.  In this filing, Schedule F spending is about 17% of total receipts.  Interestingly, there are approximately 30 small contributions to county Democratic Committees.  They are all small, between $100-$300, but I don’t recall prior filings having such a long list of similar contributions.  Perhaps I overlooked them in earlier filings, but it may that the governor’s political arm is engaging more with the local county committees.
  • Schedule M – Contributions Refunded:  This is always an interesting schedule in any filing.  Cuomo 2014’s refunds for this period are $76,000, roughly consistent compared to the four prior filings of $78,000, $16,000, $106,000 and $5,000, respectively.  We will update this analysis if we find any notable returns.

4.  Final Observations:

  • Of the $4 million that Governor Cuomo reported raising, only $16,000 came in contributions of less than $1,000.
  • With $22.5 million on hand, Governor Cuomo is well-positioned for his presumed 2014 re-election campaign.  For comparison, at this point of the prior governor’s term, Eliot Spitzer had $302,000 on-hand.  He had also resigned from office ten months earlier.

~  John Kenny