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Politics and Government

Cuomo defends $25,000 per plate fundraiser held during budget negotiations

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued to defend his choice to hold a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser attended by key lobbyists two weeks before the budget is due, saying he supports public campaign financing.

In a radio interview with WCNY’s “The Capitol Pressroom,” Cuomo said he was not influenced by the money he received from donors.

“If anyone suggests that any position I take is linked to a contributor,” they would be wrong, Cuomo said.

The governor criticized two freshman senators, Alessandra Biaggi and Jessica Ramos, and recently elected Assemblywoman Yuh-Lin Niou. They called the governor a “hypocrite” for advocating for public campaign finance while holding the pricey fundraiser during budget season.

Cuomo said the three either did not know the facts or were “lying” because two of the three also had recently held fundraisers, though with a lower admission rate, and their Democratic legislative campaign committees regularly schedule fundraisers with high price tags.

“There’s no doubt that you have new members who have a lot of emotion, sometimes not matched with facts,” Cuomo said.  

The governor did not comment on a vulgarity used by a senior aide when referring to the three lawmakers. He said all he can do is conduct himself in a civil manner.

Cuomo, who has said the budget needs to include a matching small-donor public campaign finance system, said there is not yet final agreement on the issue.

Cuomo held a fundraiser after he was re-elected last November; he will not be up for election to another term until 2022. He said he is considering seeking re-election for a fourth term.