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Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign account has received the lion’s share of contributions from lobbying firms who work to influence legislation, according to an anaylsis released today by the New York Public Interest Research Group.
And some of the donations may have been bundled through a legal process designed to increase the clout of lobbying entities in state government’s decision-making process.
The report, authored by numbers guru Bill Mahoney, found Cuomo’s re-election effort has received $423,278 over the last year.
That is more than twice the amount of the second-highest recipient of donations from lobbying shops, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who received $143,539. In third place, Senate Republicans received more than $91,000.
Overall, firms have donated $1.8 million over the last year.
The report says that the legal practice of “bundling” donations by lobbying organizations allows them to beef up their influence. Bundling is rather nebulous practice, however, allowing participants to multiply their contributions by giving to PACs or campaign committees with checks written by individual members, clients or associates.
As Mahoney’s report notes, New York City’s campaign laws require committees to disclose which of their donations have been bundled and who is behind it.
The report’s case study shows how donations linked to the firm Featherstonhaugh, Wiley & Clyne, LLP, a firm with ties to the New York Gaming Association, were disbersed around the same time, often on the same day.
The report stresses that simply because the money was doled out around the same time, the coordinated bundling effort isn’t necessarily the case with all donations.
It is unlikely, however, that there are not at least a few examples of bundling found below. It is notable that 45 of the 70 donations from the firm itself or one of its employees were dated on the same day as a donation from one of their clients. The probability of this happening completely by chance is statistically unfeasible. A state bundling disclosure requirement would remove the guess work as to the role played by lobbyists and others in arranging for political donations.
The report is fascinating, given the revelation that the Cuomo-aligned Committee to Save New York received $2.4 million from gambiling interests, including the New York Gaming Association. The committee, which backs the governor’s fiscal agenda, has also received bundled donations from both the Buffalo-Niagara Partnership and the Business Council.