New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D.) raised more than $32,000 per day over the course of the last six months, amassing $30.5 million in campaign funds, according to campaign finance reports.
Cuomo, who has been floated as a potential 2020 contender despite dodging questions about his presidential aspirations, has received money from companies and wealthy donors, ranging from big Albany lobbying shops and real estate developers to Hollywood moguls and the pharmaceutical industry, the New York Times reported.
New York maintains caps on donations — $65,100 is the maximum Mr. Cuomo can receive from an individual — but the limits and rules are some of the loosest of any state with such restrictions.
Mr. Cuomo took full advantage. He collected $129,200 from the hedge fund manager Joseph DiMenna and his wife, $50,000 from the billionaire philanthropist Eli Broad, $25,000 from the Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg and his wife, and $30,000 from Barry Diller, the billionaire businessman. Last week, three limited liability companies linked to the address of Brookfield Properties gave Mr. Cuomo a total of $150,000. Three of the nation’s biggest accounting firms, Ernst & Young, KPMG and PricewaterhouseCoopers, combined to give Mr. Cuomo $100,000 last week, as well.
Mr. Cuomo, a prodigious fund-raiser who has long preferred collecting fewer big checks to cultivating a small-donor base, raised only 0.2 percent of his money from donors who gave less than $200. His overall average contribution was more than $4,800.
In addition to governing, Cuomo has spent the last six months accumulating a campaign chest by operating with a small staff, tasked primarily with raising more money.
His single largest expenditure was donating the $111,000 in donations he received from disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein to Women's Justice Now, a New York City-based charitable organization associated with the National Organization for Women. Calls to return Weinstein's donations were directed at a number of prominent Democrats after the Hollywood mogul was accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women over the course of three plus decades. Cuomo had initially said he would donate $50,000 of Weinstein's donations to charity back in October, but he then reversed that decision a day later amid pressure from Republicans, pledging he would take an "extraordinary step" to donate all Weinstein money to charity.
Cuomo also spent $140,000 on polling, split between Global Strategy Group and Central Marketing Inc, along with directing significant funds toward dining and social functions, the Times reported.
He also spent big on splashy fund-raising events, including a blowout 60th birthday party last month where former President Bill Clinton and Jon Bon Jovi appeared. Mr. Cuomo reported more than $229,000 in spending on the event at Cipriani Wall Street. He spent nearly $30,000 at Madison Square Garden, where he held a fund-raiser at a Paul McCartney concert last September, and $11,000 with the New York Mets, where he also held an event.
Most of Mr. Cuomo’s spending was more mundane: more than 100 Uber, Lyft and taxi rides and 45 trips to Duane Reade. Docks Oyster Bar, the seafood restaurant downstairs from the governor’s Manhattan office, is a frequent campaign haunt, with 15 visits, including a $1,118.43 meal tab one day last August.
Despite being under FBI investigation as recently as last month for hiring practices, Cuomo is the most popular politician in New York. A new Siena College poll shows him having a 62 percent favorability rating, with the backing of 76 percent of Democrats and 41 percent of Republicans.
Cuomo's top Republican opponent in the 2018 governor race, Harry Wilson, dropped out in a New Year’s Day Facebook post, citing commitment to family. The governor still has at least two other Republican opponents running in the primary to take on Cuomo. Brian Kolb, the Assembly minority leader, and Joel Giambra, a former lobbyist and Erie County executive, are the two remaining hopefuls. Former State Senator Terry Gipson is Cuomo's Democratic challenger, but he has only raised $6,000, according to the the Times.