Cuomo spends day in Cal­i­for­nia rais­ing cash and pro­file

The Buffalo News - - LOCAL NEWS - By Tom Pre­cious

AL­BANY – Gov. Andrew Cuomo spent Tues­day trav­el­ing be­tween San Fran­cisco and Los An­ge­les, rais­ing money for his gu­ber­na­to­rial cam­paign fund and, pre­sum­ably, stir­ring the waters a bit more about a pos­si­ble 2020 White House run.

How much Cuomo raised was not re­vealed by his cam­paign. Cuomo left some­time Mon­day evening and was due back Tues­day night.

Cuomo was ex­pected to tap deep into the Hol­ly­wood film in­dus­try with a sched­uled gath­er­ing of top en­ter­tain­ment ex­ec­u­tives Tues­day evening at the Bev­erly Hills home of Jeff Shell, chair­man of Uni­ver­sal Filmed En­ter­tain­ment Group.

The take­away in some me­dia ac­counts was about how Cuomo was try­ing to boost his 2020 pres­i­den­tial am­bi­tions. But the Los An­ge­les Times, anony­mously quot­ing one of the Los An­ge­les fundraiser’s host com­mit­tee, said part of the mo­tive for donors at­tend­ing was to help the in­dus­try pre­serve its best-in-the-na­tion tax breaks it en­joys in New York State.

With Cuomo’s mus­cle, those tax breaks – $420 mil­lion a year for qual­i­fied film pro­duc­tions in New York – were ex­tended ear­lier this spring through 2022.

Sev­eral peo­ple host­ing or ex­pected to at­tend one of the two events have been big Cuomo donors in the past. Dream­works co­founder Jef­frey Katzen­berg, who was among those the Los An­ge­les news­pa­per said was at­tend­ing the Tues­day evening fundraiser, do­nated $60,000 to Cuomo in 2014 and 2015, ac­cord­ing to a search of cam­paign records in New York.

Jim Gianop­u­los, chair­man of Paramount Pic­tures, do­nated $5,000 in 2009 for Cuomo’s first run for gov­er­nor.

With donors be­ing asked to give Cuomo up to $50,000 apiece, the in­vite list to a morn­ing fundraiser in San Fran­cisco in­cluded an ar­ray of in­ter­ests, in­clud­ing San Fran­cisco Giants Pres­i­dent Larry Baer and ex­ec­u­tives with hedge funds who have been among Cuomo’s most loyal donors over the years.

Among the hosts in San Fran­cisco was New York­ers Barry and Lizanne Rosen­stein. He is the bil­lion­aire founder of Jana Part­ners hedge fund and, to­gether with his wife, they al­ready do­nated $185,000 to Cuomo in the past three years.

Sil­i­con Val­ley en­trepreneurs Chris Larsen and Mun­jal Shah were on the in­vi­ta­tion list, as was Ben Lawsky, who is Cuomo’s for­mer fi­nan­cial ser­vices depart­ment head and gov­ern­ment and po­lit­i­cal ad­viser.

Bill Mul­row, Cuomo’s for­mer top gov­ern­ment staffer and who is serv­ing as chair­man of Cuomo’s 2018 re-elec­tion cam­paign, did not re­spond to an email seek­ing in­for­ma­tion about how much the Cal­i­for­nia fundrais­ers were ex­pected to col­lect.

Cam­paign of­fi­cials Tues­day evening said Cuomo flew via com­mer­cial jets and that his cam­paign is pay­ing for the travel costs.

Repub­li­cans crit­i­cized the money rais­ing trips. On Twit­ter, Sen. John DeFran­cisco, a Syra­cuse Repub­li­can mulling a run for gov­er­nor next year, wrote: “Cuomo is rais­ing $$$ in San Fran­cisco to run for Pres­i­dent while NY faces the big­gest short­fall in 7 years – $4.4 bil­lion and grow­ing. Pri­or­i­ties???”

The state Repub­li­can Party noted the con­nec­tions be­tween the film in­dus­try and Cuomo’s strong sup­port of the $420 mil­lion an­nual tax break pro­gram for the com­pa­nies.

“It’s a form of money laun­der­ing that is eth­i­cally and po­lit­i­cally cor­rupt, all so he can try to run for pres­i­dent,’’ the GOP said Tues­day.

Cuomo cam­paign of­fi­cials noted that Tues­day was the sixth time that Cuomo, dat­ing back to his days as state at­tor­ney gen­eral, has trav­eled to Cal­i­for­nia for fundrais­ers.

“The Gov­er­nor has broad na­tional sup­port for what he’s done in New York and ap­pre­ci­ates our shared ef­forts with ‎Cal­i­for­nia to com­bat dis­as­trous tax and cli­mate pol­icy com­ing out of Wash­ing­ton. These at­tempts by the New York GOP to dis­tract from last week’s (elec­tion day) de­feats in ev­ery corner of the state are silly and frankly in­ef­fec­tive,’’ Mul­row, the Cuomo cam­paign chair­man, said in a state­ment Tues­day.

Who gave to Cuomo on Tues­day won’t be re­vealed un­til he files his next cam­paign fi­nance re­port with the state elec­tions board in mid-Jan­uary. In July, he re­ported hav­ing $25.7 mil­lion in his cam­paign ac­count.

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