May 9, 2017

America Rising Calls On Andrew Cuomo To Return Tainted $25,000

Albany has long been synonymous with corruption and poor government. Yet Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and his associates are giving even the worst administrations a run for their money. Governor Cuomo’s former top aide goes on trial for corruption in October, and just yesterday another close Cuomo associate, G. Steven Pigeon was indicted for the third time in less than a year.

Pigeon’s latest charges are related to a $25,000 campaign contribution for Cuomo that the FBI alleges was illegally solicited:

“In a session before U.S. Magistrate Judge Michael J. Roemer, a newly unsealed FBI complaint alleges the well-connected political operative conspired to solicit a $25,000 contribution to the Cuomo campaign from a Montreal-based internet gambling company for whom his Papi Holdings LLC earned $388,000 in lobbying fees from 2010 to 2015.”

When contacted by The Buffalo News, Cuomo’s office ducked questions. Yet the answers given by Basil Smikle Jr., New York Democratic Party’s executive director, shouldn’t give New Yorkers any comfort. According to Smikle, “the campaign rejected donations we believed to be out of compliance with campaign finance laws.”

Yet according to all available public campaign records, Governor Cuomo’s campaign never refunded the tainted $25,000 contribution. Therefore, it is imperative that Governor Cuomo immediately return the $25,000 contribution.

That’s because the emerging details of the case show that Cuomo’s campaign has a lot to answer for. According to the federal complaint, the contribution was solicited for a “Manhattan event featuring [Cuomo].” Even more worrying for Cuomo, Pigeon’s attorney claims that the allegedly illegal contribution was given with the knowledge of “Cuomo people”:

“He said all of the allegations filed Monday were known by Cuomo campaign officials and that he has no idea why Pigeon has been singled out. ‘The Cuomo people were aware of it,’ he said, adding that his client is convinced of the political motivations, ‘at least from the state standpoint.’”

Pigeon’s “long ties to Cuomo” make this case yet another ethics nightmare for the embattled governor. While Cuomo has his sights set on a 2020 presidential run, his mounting ethics problems could stop him before he even gets out of the starting gate.