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Op-Ed: Gov. Cuomo solicited millions in campaign cash from state vendors

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  • Adam Andrzejewski | OpentheBooks.com via RealClearWire/March 12th, 2021
FILE - NY Andrew Cuomo 1-12-2021
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks Jan. 12, 2021, during the second day of his four-day rollout of his State of the State priorities.Flickr / Gov. Andrew Cuomo

Soliciting state contractors for campaign cash opens up New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to ethical questions.

Our auditors at OpenTheBooks.com found 347 state vendors that gave $6.2 million in political donations to Cuomo over a six-year period (2014-2019). Meanwhile, these companies reaped $7 billion in state payments.

We reached out to Gov. Cuomo and Rich Azzopardi, a senior advisor, answered for the administration: “No contribution of any size plays a role in any official action and any official who can be swayed by a single dollar has no business being in government.”

In New York, however, this political patronage is perfectly legal (at least for now).

Cuomo solicited campaign cash from big accounting firms, law firms, banks, cable companies, developers, telco’s, and even LLCs.

Here’s just one example:

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The big four accounting firms, Deloitte; Ernst & Young (EY); KPMG; and PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC) collectively gave Gov. Cuomo $360,000 in campaign donations from 2014-2019. The firms reaped $258.8 million in state payments.

Are these firms “independent” auditors with a fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers? We found that the firms coordinated their campaign cash to the governor giving the same amounts on the same days in the same years.

In fact, three of the Big Four – PwC, KPMG, and EY – each gave the exact same amount of campaign cash to Cuomo during the six-year period ($88,333.33). Deloitte contributed another $105,000.

Even in Illinois, where the number-one manufactured product is corruption, a 2011 law barred state vendors with contracts exceeding $50,000 from giving campaign donations to statewide officeholders.

In all the examples identified above, no quid-pro-quo is alleged or implied; however, the patterns are troubling. In fact, the individual transactions are probably legal at arm’s length.

The #WasteOfTheDay is presented by the forensic auditors at OpenTheBooks.com.

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