The Slatest

Andrew Cuomo’s Friends Are Suddenly Giving Him Lots of Small Donations

 Gov. Andrew Cuomo departs after speaking to the press during the New York Democratic convention in May 2018.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo departs after speaking to the press during the New York Democratic convention in May 2018. Kevin Hagen/Getty Images

Shortly after launching her New York gubernatorial campaign in March, Cynthia Nixon proudly declared that she had received more small-dollar contributions in her first day as a candidate than Gov. Andrew Cuomo had since taking office in 2011. That fact was framed with a little creative accounting, but it fit neatly with the Bernie Sanders-esque image Nixon was cultivating as a progressive outsider trying to take down Cuomo, an establishment favorite who the New York Times had dubbed “a Master of the $50,000 Fund-Raiser” a few months earlier.

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In the three months since, Cuomo’s friends found a not-so-subtle way to help push back against the criticism. Campaign finance reports released on Tuesday showed that a number of people related to Cuomo’s staff—including some with considerable means—cut small-dollar checks to the governor. One individual made 69 individual donations in $1, $3 and $5 increments, for a grand total of $77. This was apparently a way to bring down Cuomo’s average contribution and bring up the percentage of contributions that came from small donors. It didn’t take long for a few industrious reporters to spot the big names accompanying some of the smallest figures:

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Asked about the donor who gave 69 different times, who reportedly shares an address with a Cuomo staffer, a spokeswoman for the governor’s campaign told the New York Times: “We appreciate his enthusiasm. Going forward, we’ll put measures in place to count contributions like this differently.”

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Of course, the flip side of the small-donor equation is that Cuomo has a lot of very big donors, and thus, a massive cash advantage on Nixon. The governor has long been a favorite of business interests in the state—his previous donors include Donald Trump and David Koch—and the new small-donor focus has done little to dent his existing appeal with the big ones. He reported raising roughly $6 million this year and has about $31 million in the bank. Nixon reported raising $1.6 million since she her campaign launch, including $500,000 in the last month, but nonetheless ended the reporting period with just $660,000 on hand.

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