Cuomo outraises Nixon, but questions about donors linger

July 17, 2018 - 6:31 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is easily outpacing Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon in campaign contributions but can't shake questions about some donors.

Cuomo raised more than $6 million in the first half of 2018 and now has $31 million in his re-election account, according to campaign finance reports released late Monday. Nixon, the former "Sex and the City" actor and longtime political activist, raised $1.6 million and now has $660,000 on hand. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate, has $887,000 in his war chest.

The sizeable lead gives Cuomo a huge advantage going into the final leg of the Sept. 13 primary. But Nixon has sought to turn Cuomo's prolific fundraising against him. She has criticized him for not returning old donations from Donald Trump made years before Trump was elected president, and for relying on wealthy donors instead of more modest contributions from everyday New Yorkers.

On Tuesday, Cuomo announced plans to donate to charity more than $500,000 in contributions from developers convicted last week in the bid-rigging case against Alain Kaloyeros, the former head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute and once a leading economic development leader in Cuomo's administration.

Cuomo initially moved the money to a separate account after Kaloyeros was charged two years ago, saying he would await direction from prosecutors before deciding what to do with it. Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney whose office first brought the charges, dismissed Cuomo's plan before offering his own advice.

"Federal prosecutors don't give such guidance," he tweeted Friday. "But former prosecutors can — just return the money."

The campaign intends to donate the money within days to groups that work on "immigrant legal defense, women's reproductive health rights, and Puerto Rico recovery efforts," according to campaign spokeswoman Abbey Collins.

Monday's filing shows many more small donors to Cuomo — though the list included several former or current Cuomo aides or their relatives. Another small donor gave $77 spread over 69 contributions in what Nixon's spokeswoman Lauren Hitt called a "pathetic, transparent" attempt to increase the number of small-dollar donors.

Coumo's campaign dismissed the criticism as a desperate move. Citing the recent fundraising totals and polls that show Cuomo ahead, Collins said Nixon's campaign was "on life support."

Cuomo also received $130,000 in contributions from internet entrepreneurs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. Of that amount, $100,000 was given a month before state financial regulators approved their new cryptocurrency.