When your parents said or did something that was wrong, they may have invoked Giovanni Boccaccio’s famous quote, “Do as we say, not as we do.”
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo may soon be saying the same thing.
A New York Times article reveals that Cuomo may not be practicing what he preaches. The Democratic candidate for New York State Governor made it explicitly clear when accepting his candidacy late last month: “The influence of lobbyists and their special interests must be drastically reduced with new contribution limits.”
But what the gubernatorial candidate did not say was that he had accepted "a large sum from a variety of special interests groups," the very same groups that he was now declaring war on.
A review of the New York State Contributions and Expenditure Database reveals that Cuomo, like any other candidate seeking higher office, has received a myriad of contributions from high-powered law firms, and even to $5 dollars he donated himself.
But upon further review it seems that up to 20 percent of the donations the campaign has accepted are from special interests groups. The New York Times estimates that a total of $7 million has come from the political action committees and limited liability corporations.
Organized labor unions have given $1.4 million, while real estate and construction companies have given $1.3 million. Even Cablevision’s political action committee has contributed, giving Cuomo’s campaign $40,000.
Cuomo has also accepted similar amounts of funding during his previous campaigns. However, Cuomo has taken great strides to resist the temptations of paying back those contributions. Just this year, the attorney general filed suit against Bank of America in regard to its merger with Merrill Lynch.
Cuomo even took the fight to the condo-king, Yair Levy, by filing suit this month over $7.4 million that was allegedly stolen from a reserve fund. As well as various other suits filled during his tenure as attorney general.
Yet, political donations are a way for candidates to gain access to the tightly controlled cradle of power that is Albany.
The lobbyists, special interests and political action committees are often painted as evil and manipulative, but they often help introduce legislation that normally would not have shown up on Albany’s radar.
Calls and emails for comment to Attorney General Cuomo’s office have not been returned for comment.