Cuomo raised campaign cash while watching Stanley Cup
ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo killed two birds with one stone at Wednesday's Stanley Cup hockey game, raising campaign cash from donors while watching the Rangers defeat the Los Angeles Kings, 2-1, at Madison Square Garden.
According to campaign officials, four donors paid top dollar to sit with the governor, his girlfriend, Sandra Lee, and one of his daughters in the M.S.G. box owned by Cushman & Wakefield, a major real estate firm. Cuomo's campaign paid the firm $720 for each of the seven tickets, according to campaign spokesman Peter Kauffmann. He said that represented “fair market value.”
It's not uncommon for elected officials to hold political fund-raisers at sporting events. But Cushman & Wakefield was not aware Cuomo was raising money, according to company spokeswoman Celine Clarke.
“It was a Cushman & Wakefield client entertainment event,” she said.
The box holds about 20 people, and was full, Clarke said. Page Six reported that company president Ed Forst as well as Ray Kelly, the former commissioner of the NYPD who is now Cushman's head of security, attended. Also spotted were Jerry Speyer, another real estate mogul, and Andrew Farkas, who hired Cuomo at his firm Island Capital after Cuomo lost his first bid for governor in 2002.
Cuomo campaign spokesman Peter Kauffmann said the governor has held fund-raisers at sporting events in the past, including a 2012 event at Yankee Stadium which filings show cost around $40,000.
Kauffmann would not identify the donors nor say how much they paid to watch the game with the governor.
“You will see the proceeds in the next filing,” he said.
Elected officials have been tripped up for soliciting or accepting tickets to sporting events they attend outside their official capacity. In 2010, then-governor David Paterson was fined by a state ethics agency for soliciting tickets to the World Series and paying for them only after journalists inquired.
Those tickets qualified as an unlawful gift because the Yankees had business before the state. Cushman & Wakefield is not registered in the state's lobbying database, though it does serve as the landlord for several state agencies located at a building in White Plains.
Blair Horner, legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group, said Cuomo's fund-raising practice was “clever,” but does not seem to run afoul of any regulation.
“If he's paying for tickets for fair market value and the individual or entity he bought them from doesn't have any business before the government, I don't think it raises any ethical concerns,” Horner said.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also attended the game, but he paid $275 for tickets in Madison Square Garden's 200 level.
As of January, Cuomo's campaign account had $33 million in the bank. His Republican opponent, Westchester County executive Rob Astorino, had $1 million.