WXXI AM News

Cuomo campaign account dwarfs challengers’ coffers

Jul 17, 2018

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has just over $31 million in his campaign coffers, according to the most recent July filings.

That amount dwarfs the amount collected by his challengers, Democrat Cynthia Nixon and Republican Marc Molinaro, who each have less than a million dollars in their war chests.

Cuomo raised over $6 million from January to mid-July of this year, and spent nearly $5.4 million, most of that in the months since he gained Nixon, an actor and education activist, as a Democratic primary challenger.

The governor raised the bulk of his cash in large donations, including some from unions, with $65,000 from the AFL-CIO and $64,000 from the nurses’ union, the New York State Nurses Association.

Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss, twin brother entrepreneurs who run a cryptocurrency venture, donated $100,000 in April and $30,000 in June. In May, they were granted permission from the Cuomo administration’s Department of Financial Services to expand their business.

Nixon collected the bulk of her $500,000 in donations from small-money donors of $250 or less, with some exceptions. Actors Susan Sarandon and Lena Dunham each gave Nixon’s campaign $10,000. Nixon has about $660,000 in her coffers.

Molinaro, the Republican candidate for governor, also received much of his funding from smaller donations, with most being $1,000 or less. He raised over $900,000 and has just slightly less than that amount in his account.

Molinaro’s two biggest contributions were from the state GOP chairman, Ed Cox, who gave $44,000, and Robert Trump, the brother of President Donald Trump, who gave $25,000. Molinaro has distanced himself from Donald Trump.

Cuomo’s been getting some heat from his opponents about relying so heavily on large donors. The governor has held several fundraisers where the top tickets were $25,000 to $50,000.

A spokeswoman for Molinaro calls it an “indictment” of Cuomo’s character.

This cycle, the governor had more small-money donors. His campaign says 57 percent of his donors gave $250 or less. Three family members of Cuomo’s chief of staff, Melissa DeRosa, gave $10 each.

One donor gave $69, but he gave it in 69 $1 increments, most of it on July 12 and the rest on July 16, just before the campaign filings were due.

The New York Times reports that the donor lives at same address as an employee of Cuomo’s campaign.

The donations were immediately attacked by a spokeswoman for Nixon’s campaign as “pathetic.”

A spokeswoman for the Cuomo campaign, Abbey Collins, said they "appreciate” the donor’s “enthusiasm,” but she says going forward, they will likely count similar contributions differently.

While his opponents may be critical, the governor’s multimillion-dollar war chest can have many positive effects for his candidacy, said Steve Greenberg, a spokesman for Siena College polls and a political analyst.

He said it costs millions to advertise on television, which is still considered an effective way for a candidate to get out their message, as well as buying ads on other mediums.

“So that when someone goes on to their smartphone to Google something, the top ad is for your campaign,” Greenberg said. “And that costs money.”

Greenberg says candidates still need the resources because even in an increasingly fragmented media world, the “basic tenet” is the same — to get the attention of voters.