New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's (D.) office revealed that he flew on a billionaire's private jet to the Sundance Film Festival on Monday for a screening of a documentary about his girlfriend, celebrity chef Sandra Lee.
Cuomo traveled Monday to attend the festival in Park City, Utah, on hedge fund manager Barry Rosenstein’s plane, the New York Times reports. The governor’s office said Rosenstein and his wife, Lizanne, are friends of Cuomo and Lee, and that the trip was not related to Cuomo’s official duties or his campaign.
Cuomo’s spokesman Richard Azzopardi described the Rosensteins as "longtime friends of Sandra and the governor, with no business before the state."
"The value of the trip is being tabulated, and as it was not in his official capacity nor related to the campaign, will not be covered by taxpayers nor by campaign funds," Azzopardi said.
He also said Lizanne Rosenstein accompanied Cuomo on the trip.
The Rosensteins have contributed a combined $186,000 to Cuomo’s three gubernatorial campaigns, and their house in the Hamptons was the location of a fundraising event for Cuomo last summer where the cost to attend was $25,000 per person.
Lee, who has been with Cuomo for more than ten years, is the executive producer of the film shown at Sundance: RX Early Detection: A Cancer Journey With Sandra Lee. It’s a documentary short film directed by Cathy Chermol Schrijver about Lee’s experience with breast cancer.
Cuomo has used private planes to travel outside New York in the past. He used billionaire John Catsimatidis’ jet to go to the U.S. Virgin Islands following Hurricane Irma. The trip occured not long after Cuomo signed a biofuels law that could benefit a company owned by Catsimatidis.
Azzopardi said Catsimatidis did not lobby the governor’s office regarding that bill, and Catsimatidis said he never discussed the bill with Cuomo. The trip on Catsimatidis’ plane was approved by New York’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics because the situation in the Virgin Islands was an emergency.