A group of CEOs that has become Albany's biggest lobbying force has not complied with regulations to show how it raised $9 million to support Gov. Andrew Cuomo's agenda while claiming to be a charity, according to state reports and interviews.
A review by The Associated Press shows that the state Charities Registration Bureau has no annual report for the Committee to Save New York for 2011, when it waged extensive TV and radio campaigns to support Cuomo's budget and policies.
The report was due Aug. 15 under the committee's initial filing as a charity. State officials say there is no explanation or request for extensions.
The committee, created as a political nonprofit group days after Cuomo's election in 2010, came under almost immediate criticism from good-government groups. Under pressure from government watchdog groups and news reports, the committee eventually filed as a lobbyist with the state.
The New York Public Interest Research Group had said the committee needed to say how it raised and spent its money under a "unique relationship with the governor." The committee had disclosed its members only after news reports criticizing its lack of disclosure, and those members included some of Cuomo's biggest campaign donors.
In part, the group sought to create media campaigns backing Cuomo's initiatives that would offset opposition campaigns by public worker unions that had stymied previous governors.
Committee spokesman Michael McKeon downplayed the discrepancy and said the issue would be resolved Friday, days after the AP's initial inquiry. McKeon said the committee had changed its fiscal year, so it believes the report isn't due until mid-May.
There is no record of a change in fiscal year reported to the state.
"This is a paperwork issue we are resolving today," McKeon said Friday. "We will file everything required next month on time."
He said that report won't have any new or surprising information and will be consistent with the committee's timely filings of lobbying reports to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics. That's the ethics and lobbying regulator created by Cuomo — with legislative approval — whose chairman is Cuomo's appointee and whose executive director is Cuomo's former inspector general.
"We look forward to seeing the information," said Bill Mahoney of NYPIRG. "The charity disclosure laws help the public understand the mission of nonprofit groups and their full range of activities beyond lobbying."
Spokesmen for Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman had no immediate comment.
Lobbying reports show the committee spent more than any other lobbying force in Albany, $11.9 million its first full year. That's more than lobbying groups involved in gambling, gay marriage and labor.
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