Opinion Editorial on Campaign Finance
The Governor and the CommitteeEditorial
When Andrew Cuomo was running for governor of New York in 2010, he printed eight books describing his priorities. Many were excellent ideas, including campaign finance reform, ethics reform, balancing the budget, ending pay-to-play, getting government to work. Nowhere in those books was there a word about casinos.
So it was a surprise to many when Mr. Cuomo, in his State of the State address this year, made expanding casino gambling a top priority on his agenda. Now we learn that the gambling industry has been very generous to the governor’s cause.
The Times reported on Tuesday that an industry trade group donated $2 million last year to the Committee to Save New York, a group organized at Mr. Cuomo’s urging to promote the governor’s policies and praise his performance with campaign-style political ads. Genting, a gambling company that helped found the industry trade group, contributed an additional $400,000.
Through his spokesman, Mr. Cuomo has strongly denied that there is any connection between the gambling donations and his enthusiasm for legalizing Las Vegas-style casinos. The spokesman said the governor had been considering ways to manage and expand gambling in New York for months before the industry’s donations.
But even in the slush fields of Albany, $2.4 million is a lot of money. And because the Committee to Save New York is registered as a tax-exempt social welfare organization, called a 501(c)(4), it has not been required until now to publicly disclose its donors.
In March — two months after Mr. Cuomo’s speech — the Legislature endorsed a constitutional amendment that could eventually allow up to seven Las Vegas-style casinos. The amendment must be approved again next year by lawmakers and then go to state voters. But the gambling industry clearly has a lot of new friends in Albany. And the committee, which had been focused on promoting a property tax cap and reduced state spending, has now added the constitutional amendment to its list of Mr.