Cuomo outraises Nixon, but questions about donors linger

July 17, 2018 - 6:04 pm

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is easily outpacing Democratic primary challenger Cynthia Nixon in campaign contributions but can't shake questions about some donors.

Cuomo raised more than $6 million in the first half of 2018 and now has $31 million in his re-election account, according to campaign finance reports released late Monday. Nixon, the former "Sex and the City" actor and longtime political activist, raised $1.6 million and now has $660,000 on hand. Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro, the Republican candidate, has $887,000 in his war chest.

The sizeable lead gives Cuomo a huge advantage going into the final leg of the Sept. 13 primary. But Nixon has sought to turn Cuomo's prolific fundraising against him. She has criticized him for not returning old donations from Donald Trump made years before Trump was elected president, and for relying on wealthy donors instead of more modest contributions from everyday New Yorkers.

Cuomo also has faced calls to return or donate hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions from developers convicted last week in the bid-rigging case against Alain Kaloyeros, the former head of SUNY Polytechnic Institute and once a leading economic development leader in Cuomo's administration.

Cuomo moved those contributions to a separate account when Kaloyeros was charged two years ago but hasn't announced his plans for the money. He has said he will await direction from prosecutors before deciding.

"I want to make sure I get their input in what we should do with the funding," he told reporters last week.

Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney whose office first brought the charges, dismissed that idea.

"Federal prosecutors don't give such guidance," he tweeted Friday. "But former prosecutors can — just return the money."

Monday's filing shows many more small donors to Cuomo's campaign — though the list included several former or current Cuomo aides or their relatives. Another small donor gave $77 spread over 69 contributions in what Nixon's spokeswoman Lauren Hitt called a "pathetic, transparent" attempt to increase the number of small-dollar donors.

Cuomo also received $130,000 in contributions from internet entrepreneurs Tyler and Cameron Winklevoss. Of that amount, $100,000 was given a month before state financial regulators approved their new cryptocurrency.

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