Menu

Cuomo’s Campaign Supported By Small Number Of Wealthy Donors

There are hedge-fund owners and Rockefellers, the leaders of Madison Square Garden and a publicity-shy centenarian who managed to give $1 million without ever cutting a personal check.

These are Governor Andrew Cuomo’s top donors and, according to an analysis by Capital, 341 of them accounted for more than half the record-breaking $46.9 million the Democratic governor—who has decried the increased influence of big money in politics—raised during his first term in office.

In all, $23.75 million came from these 341 donors, each of whom gave aggregate totals of $40,000 or more. Donors who gave $10,000 or more accounted for 81.6 percent of his fund-raising.

While the contribution limit for a Democratic candidate with a primary is $60,800, 71 donors used corporate subsidiaries and multiple PACs to donate more than this amount. They were led by the holdings of the centenarian billionaire Leonard Litwin ($1 million), Connecticut-based developer The Richman Group ($314,000), Gary Barnett, with his wife, Ayala, and his company, Extell Development ($300,000), Brookfield Financial ($253,500) and Cablevision (the owner of MSG, $250,000; C.E.O. Charles Dolan and eight members of his family also chipped in $121,000).

Real estate remains the biggest source of Cuomo’s donations. Of his top 50 donors, 26 are businesses involved in real estate or construction; two are labor unions.

As of January 2013, 1.03 percent of Cuomo’s money had come from donors who contributed aggregate totals of $1,000. In a statement to the New York Times at the time, a spokesperson for the governor said: “The governor is not campaigning at the time, so he hasn’t done many fund-raising events, which would include low-donor events. He will do the low-donor events when the campaigning cycle is under way.”

Since then, Cuomo’s reliance on small donors has decreased. Over the course of the four-year election cycle, only 0.71 percent of the governor’s money has come from donors who contributed $1,000 or less.

Another 3,464 individuals contributed to Cuomo’s campaign committee. While many of these individuals live out-of-state, this figure represents fewer than one of every 5,500 New Yorkers.

Cuomo received $25.26 million from people and $21.26 million from businesses, unions, PACs, and other incorporated entities. The latter figure includes $9.1 million from limited liability companies.

There are additional committees whose fund-raising helped Cuomo’s re-election efforts. More than 86 percent of the election-related spending by the New York State Democratic Committee went toward the campaigns of Cuomo or his running mate, Lieutenant Governor-elect Kathy Hochul. A number of new party committees were also established to support the governor’s agenda, including New Yorkers for Gun Safety and the Women’s Equality Party.

If these committees and Hochul’s are included, Cuomo’s four-year fund-raising totals are significantly higher. The top donors to these committees include James and Marilyn Simons ($1.78 million), Litwin ($1.5 million), Brookfield Financial ($813,500), George Soros ($750,000), the Related Companies ($589,700), Vornado (at least $560,000), Rudin Management ($547,500) and Tishman Speyer ($520,800).

When the Democratic Party and other committees affiliated with Cuomo’s campaign are included, his top 20 donors each gave over $300,000. They combined to give the governor’s efforts more than $11.2 million over the past four years.

In comparison, the campaign committees for the past three Republican gubernatorial nominees for governor received an aggregate total of $10.5 million in contributions.

Capital will provide a full list of these donors once their final filings are submitted (the Democratic Committee’s housekeeping account does not need to disclose transactions made after July 11, 2014, until Jan. 15, 2015).

For now, it is possible to finalize the list of the biggest donors to Cuomo Hochul 2014. This list can be seen below or downloaded at: http://bit.ly/1vC7ZnR

Become a part of the solution for reforming New York.
Sign up for Effective New York and Effective Radio.
Your Information will never be shared with any third party.