The news is stubbornly refusing to get any better for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2018 as he battles through a primary challenge leading up to this fall’s election. After one of his closest and longest-serving aides was convicted on corruption charges in March, now the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan has reopened an investigation into some highly dubious campaign donations dating back to his last election. While this isn’t a new story, it’s getting a fresh look from the feds for good reason. A group of people associated with a healthcare company in the Hudson Valley donated some staggering sums of money to Cuomo’s campaign and then the company mysteriously wound up receiving more than $25M in state grants. Needless to say, this raises more than a few questions. (Albany Times Union)
The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan is investigating Crystal Run Healthcare, a Hudson Valley company that received an extraordinary $25.4 million in state grants following a series of campaign contributions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The investigation has been revealed through federal grand jury subpoenas seeking testimony from multiple Crystal Run employees, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Crystal Run, its executives, their spouses or company doctors have given at least $400,000 to Cuomo’s campaign, with most of that coming in a flurry of 10 donations of $25,000 apiece that were made at a Cuomo fundraiser in October 2013.
These donations are drawing renewed scrutiny for good reason. Some of the people involved as mysterious, big dollar donors are the same ones that Preet Bharara was investigating in 2016 before he was fired in the early days of the Trump administration. But others are of interest for precisely the opposite reason.
Ten people gave the identical $25K donations in short order, not long before Crystal Run received their incredibly generous grants totaling more than $25M. But seven of the ten hadn’t made a single political donation to a New York campaign in the previous decade. What made them suddenly feel a renewed sense of generosity in 2013? There have also been questions raised as to whether the donations actually came from the pockets of those donors or if it was “pooled money” provided by the healthcare company and channled through the donors. (If so, that’s a federal offense.) While that in and of itself doesn’t prove that anything illegal was going on, the timing and the circumstances certainly look beyond fishy. And if the U.S. Attorney is willing to open the investigation they’ve probably got more cards than they’re currently showing.
At the same time as this latest corruption investigation popped up around the Cuomo administration, the Governor’s primary challenger, Cynthia Nixon, nabbed another key endorsement from a prominent liberal group. (Daily Beast)
Cynthia Nixon on Monday picked up a major endorsement from the left in her race against incumbent New York Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The former Sex and the City star and longtime political activist won the official backing of Our Revolution, the political organization spun off from Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) presidential campaign.
So is all of this going to add up to actual trouble or even political doom for Cuomo? His lead over Nixon has now shrunk from 47 points in March to 22 points this month. But that’s still one heck of a lead and Nixon will need to burrow deep into Cuomo’s core constituencies to make up the rest of the gap. And how about these new campaign finance investigations? It certainly sounds like bad news, but Cuomo has a well-deserved reputation as the new “Teflon Don” in New York. While those around him fall to corruption charges, the Governor himself always seems to miraculously skate away without taking any damage.
Forgive me for being a bit jaded after all these years of living in New York, but I’m not going to be holding my breath in terms of Cuomo being brought down by this. His family is burrowed into the bedrock of New York politics and if you’re going to go after him you’d better bring a seriously big net.