BUFFALO, N.Y. — Andrew Cuomo is no longer governor but still has a bursting at the seems political war-chest.
According to the July filing with the State Board of Elections, Cuomo had more than $18 million on hand. That money was being collected for an anticipated run for a fourth term. But with him stepping down, he has options on how to spend it.
It would seem at least some of that money will go toward Cuomo’s legal defense. Under state law, campaign funds can be used for legal expenses related to actions linked to a campaign or an elected office.
But policy analyst Tom Speaker of advocacy group Reinvent Albany said if there is a penalty assessed Cuomo, he’s on his own, “If the candidate is penalized by the New York Board of Elections or the Joint Commission on Public Ethics the payment for those fines has to come out of the candidate’s pocket.”
Cuomo is currently under investigation by the Albany County District Attorney’s Office for allegedly groping a female staffer at the Governor’s Mansion. District Attorney David Soares has also requested materials from the New York Attorney General’s office related to its probe of 11 women all claiming various forms of sexual harassment by Cuomo while he was in office.
There is also an ongoing federal probe related to the reporting of COVID deaths in nursing homes.
What state law does not allow is using campaign donations for personal use. The problem, says Speaker, is that state law does not clearly define what personal use is.
The former governor does have other options for his campaign cash. If interested in a future run for office, Speaker says it would be permissible for Cuomo to use the money on a rehabilitative publicity campaign in advance of entering a contest.
Still, other legal options would be charitable donations or donating money to other state and/or local campaigns.