Assemblyman Phil Steck, who is co-sponsoring the bill, said he is concerned about Cuomo using his funds to "punish" opponents.

NEWS: NY Democrats to target former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign cash

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Albany Democrats are proposing legislation that would strip former Gov. Andrew Cuomo of his approximately $16 million campaign war chest before he could mount a much-rumored comeback bid.

“I was very concerned about this governor, with his style of retribution, using this giant campaign fund to punish other people who might have looked objectively at the evidence of sexual harassment that ultimately drove him from office,” Assemblyman Phil Steck (D-Schenectady) said at an Albany press conference Tuesday about the bill he is sponsoring with state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx).

Cuomo has tapped his existing campaign account to air television ads defending his legacy in recent months following his resignation last August amid a litany of scandals including alleged sexual misconduct documented in damning reports from state Attorney General Letitia James and an Assembly impeachment investigation. 

“He would have to open a new fund and go out and solicit new money,” Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause New York, said of what would happen if the Legislature passes the bill before Cuomo would ever follow through on a rumored campaign for political redemption. 

A January filing with the state Board of Elections showed Cuomo with $16,405,353.53 in campaign cash on hand.

Assemblyman Phil Steck, who is co-sponsoring the bill, said he is concerned about Cuomo using his funds to “punish” opponents.
Hans Pennink
Bill co-sponsor State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said stripping Cuomo of his funds is a "priority" for her.
Bill co-sponsor state Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said stripping Cuomo of his funds is a “priority” for her.
AP Photo/Hans Pennink

Other disgraced pols like former state Sen. Carl Kruger – who was sentenced to prison a decade ago for bribery – have also taken advantage of lax state campaign finance law in recent years to tap into their war chest after leaving office.

But Cuomo is in a league of his own considering the massive amounts that he raised during his three terms as governor, according to advocates of the legislation Steck and Biaggi aim to pass before state lawmakers adjourn for the year on June 2. 

“It’s on my priority list for this year,” Biaggi, a former Cuomo aide who is now running for Congress, said.

Steck added that a procedural maneuver will force a vote on the bill in an Assembly committee within the coming weeks. 

Cuomo would have to return his $16,405,353.53 in campaign funds to supporters or donate it to charity if the bills is passed.
Cuomo would have to return his $16,405,353.53 in campaign funds to supporters or donate it to charity if the bill is passed.
REUTERS/Caitlin Ochs/File Photo

If passed, the legislation would apply to any elected official who has been convicted of crimes, impeached or resigned following a finding by the state attorney general or the Legislature of legal violations, according to the legislative language. 

Former officials would have to either return campaign funds to supporters or donate the money to charities, public universities or the state general fund within two years of leaving office. 

The legislation would not apply to ex-Lieutenant Governor Brian Benjamin unless he is eventually convicted in relation to an alleged bribery conspiracy that drove him from office last month. 

The bill would not apply to former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin unless he is convicted of his charges related to an alleged campaign finance scheme.
The bill would not apply to former Lt. Gov. Brian Benjamin unless he is convicted of his charges related to an alleged campaign finance scheme.
Alec Tabak for NY Post

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi pushed back against the proposal in a statement to The Post that referenced recent claims about Biaggi’s “nightmare” treatment of aides and an unsuccessful complaint from Common Cause to the state Board of Elections concerning Cuomo’s ongoing campaign expenditures. 

He added that criminal charges against Cuomo went nowhere despite evidence outlined in the reports by investigators working on behalf of James and the Assembly. 

“Just like the last time Common Cause used a faulty interpretation of the law in order to go after Governor Cuomo, this effort is clearly unconstitutional and a pathetic abuse of taxpayer money, but not surprising from the gang that can’t legislate straight,” Azzopardi said.



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