New York Business Lobby Backing Cuomo is Biggest Spender

The Committee to Save New York, created to back Cuomo, spent $11.9 million in its first year.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    A group created to back Gov. Cuomo spent the most money last year in lobbying.

    The big-business lobbying group created to back Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a series of advertising blitzes spent nearly $12 million in 2011, the most of any lobbyist, according to a scorecard of the clout wielded by special interests in Albany.

    An analysis by the New York Public Interest Research Group released Thursday found the Committee to Save New York spent $11.9 million in its first year. Gambling interests and gay marriage partisans also spent millions.
    It was a sizeable chunk of the $220 million spent to lobby Cuomo and the 212 members of the Legislature. The total is $7 million more than in 2010. 
    Other business groups include the Business Council of New York State, which spent $560,733, and companies such as Wall Street's Goldman, Sachs & Co. which spent $965,233, invested millions more.
    "Fighting for reform in Albany is not a simple matter," said Michael McKeon, spokesman for the Committee to Save New York, which was created to counter the traditional lobbying giants in labor. 
    "But the results have been tremendous over the last 15 months. Across the board, the people have been the winners because we have a government that is now representing their needs ... We know there will be every effort to reverse them. There is more to be done."
    The connection between Cuomo and his business supporters led the Occupy Albany movement to dub him "Governor 1 Percent," suggesting he is most sympathetic to the wealthiest New Yorkers.
    Since then, Cuomo has reversed a campaign promise and signed a "millionaire's tax" law that he had long called a "job killer." That is expected to raise $2 billion for the budget and provide a $200 to $400 tax break for most middle-class families. 
    But Cuomo has been criticized for failing to close corporate tax loopholes. Instead, he created a commission to study the issue, while proposing cuts in programs for the working poor.
    The Committee to Save New York  "is not a group of altruists," said Michael Kink, executive director of the Strong Economy for All Coalition, which is made up of labor unions and community organizations. "It's a very small number of people with a huge amount of money."
    "They want what's good for them," Kink said, citing tax breaks for the rich and greater fees for Wall Street under a new pension system pushed into law by Cuomo this year.
    "It's people power vs. money power," he said, speaking for the group that also spent $607,156 on lobbying in addition to organizing protests and rallies. "Are we going to build on this as the best place for the vast majority of people, or create an economy what works well for a small amount of people?"
    "Rich people who spend a lot of money on TV to influence government is a destructive thing," Kink said.
    The Committee to Save New York spent nearly twice as much as the second biggest lobbying force: The influential SEIU Local 1199 health care union spent $6.8 million in 2011.
    Wal-Mart Stores Inc. came in third at $2.8 million, followed by major players in the gay marriage fight that ended last year with the legalization of same-sex marriage. New York United for Marriage, which supported the bill, spent $1.8 million, while the National Organization for Marriage, which opposed it, also spent $1.8 million. 
    Gambling forces also anted up after Cuomo's push for a constitutional change to allow casinos to be built off Indian land:
    Genting, the global casino developer that figured prominently in Cuomo's State of the State address in January for its development plans for Aqueduct race track, spent $876,462 last year, up from $75,000 in 2010.
    The Gaming Association of nine race tracks with video slot machines spent $629,225.
    The Seneca Nation of Indians which already operates casino gambling spent $500,283, nearly four times what it spent in the year before Cuomo announced the plans that could lead to a casino at Aqueduct.