Push Continues To Restrict Cuomo From Spending Prior Campaign Money
ALBANY — Common Cause NY and ethics-minded lawmakers remain committed to preventing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other misbehaving elected officials from spending the campaign war chest they amassed while in office.
“This is one instance, unfortunately among many, and it’s time to deal with this gap of law,” Common Cause NY Executive Director Susan Lerner said this week at the Capitol.
The legislation was first drafted by Assemblyman Phil Steck, D-Colonie, after Cuomo resigned in August amid the threat of impeachment following investigations from the attorney general’s office and the Assembly Judiciary Committee. It would cut off access to campaign funds for any elected official who was convicted of a crime or resigned following an investigation conducted by the attorney general or a committee of the Legislature that concluded the official had violated the law.
Steck said he was concerned Cuomo may use the $18 million that remained in his campaign’s coffers for “political retribution.”
“We hold those funds in trust for a public purpose, which is to communicate ideas to the public when we’re running for office,” Steck said Tuesday. “So it’s not something that we should be able to use for whatever purpose we see fit.”
The state Board of Elections, however, upheld that Cuomo’s use of the funds to date is “conduct (that) fits the definition of candidate,” according to a March finding issued in response to a complaint filed by Common Cause.
“Just like the last time Common Cause used a faulty interpretation of the law in order to go after Gov. Cuomo, this effort is clearly unconstitutional and a pathetic abuse of taxpayer money, but not surprising from the gang that can’t legislate straight,” Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi said.
The former governor has been spending his money on commercials that seek to repair his political image. His potential ability to run for governor remains uncertain as political redistricting continues to plod its way through a dense and lengthy legal process that appears to have shifted primary elections from June to August.
“Cuomo and many others have violated the public trust, but his particular large campaign chest allows him to really continue to influence politics,” said state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, D-Bronx, a sponsor of the bill who is running for Congress.