3:56 pm Mar. 8, 20131
His office has said, "The only events we have done this cycle are high-donor events."
He is flying to Florida as part of a string of "mega fund-raisers" in the coming months.
And on Friday afternoon, Governor Andrew Cuomo told a group of business leaders that he wanted the system which allows for all that to be brought to an end.
In a speech hosted by the Brennan Center and other civic groups at Covington and Burling, a law firm inside the New York Times building, Cuomo outlined a broad range of campaign-finance changes he'd like to see enacted. He called the proposed package of campaign finance reform the most effective cure in years for the problem of public distrust of government in New York and Washington.
"Nothing will restore the trust more than campaign finance," Cuomo said. "And until we have campaign finance, nothing else will."
The reforms Cuomo is now activley pushing include lowering donation limits to state candidates, requiring "real time disclosure" of donations, tightening regulations to keep candidates from coordinating with independent-expenditure groups and ending a candidates' ability to use campaign funds as a personal piggy bank.
Cuomo has not pushed particularly hard on campaign finance reform since becoming governor (by contrast with his vigorous advocacy on the issue back when he was a candidate), and today he suggested that the reason for it is that members of the legislature are afraid of what might happen if they're forced to operate in a more tightly regulated system.
"They have seen that happen," Cuomo said. "They have a real substantive issue with: what protection do they have from an independent expenditure committee, which is a good question and a question, frankly, I haven't been able to fully answer."
After Cuomo's remarks, reporters chatted with him near an elevator bank outside the room in which the event was held. Times reporter Thomas Kaplan asked Cuomo if he shared his concerns lack of independence with the Committee to Save New York, the business-funded organization which has spent millions of dollars on ads and lobbying in support of the governor's budgetary agenda.
"The independence line has been blurred," Cuomo said, before restating how challenging it was to find a solution to this problem.
Times editorial board member Eleanor Randolph, who writes the "Fixing Albany" series on the editorial page, asked about matching funds. Was it likely to pass this year?
"I would say I'm cautiously optimistic, Eleanor," he said.
Cuomo said in the last presidential election, the public and politicians saw how "effective" small donors can be, and witnessed the "intrusion of absurd amounts of money in the system, and I think they get it."
New York 1's Zack Fink asked Cuomo if he felt "any disconnect" between his practice of soliciting large contributions and his calls for reform.
"No," Cuomo said. "The least favorite part of my job is the fund-raising part. But until the rules are changed, I don't have an alternative."
He said that he's not independently wealthy and could, potentially, face a rich, self-financing opponent in the future.
Until now, of course, Cuomo has by personal example proven that there's very little price to pay for not listening to the good-government advocates on campaign finance. He's taken full advantage of New York's lax system, and he has never paid a price for it in the polls, where his approval rating remains impressively high.
I asked him if he thought that undermined his ability, now, to be a spokesman for campaign finance reform.
"I think everybody's who's now in office basically lives within the system" Cuomo said. "Our point is we want to change the system [because] living with the rules, from my point of view, is very unpleasant."