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Long IslandColumnistsDan Janison

Cuomo talks campaign finance reform

A woman walks past the campaign signs of

A woman walks past the campaign signs of New York State gubernatorial candidate Andrew M. Cuomo on East Fordham Avenue in the Bronx. (Oct. 31, 2010) Photo Credit: Charles Eckert

Gov.Andrew M. Cuomo came off as simpatico with advocates of campaign-finance reform at a Manhattan conclave Friday -- yet cited what he called a "substantive issue" that gives elected officials pause at enacting new funding restrictions.

The landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the Citizens United case approved purportedly "independent expenditures" that attack or promote political candidates. "The politicians feel a public financing system will handcuff them," Cuomo said in addressing the conference, "and if an independent expenditures committee then parachutes into the race, they'll be defenseless."

Cuomo said these candidates ask "what protection do they have from an independent expenditure committee, which is a good question, and a question, frankly, I haven't been able to fully answer at this point."

Still, Cuomo said he's "cautiously optimistic" that campaign finance reform could come later in the legislative session. Cuomo was warmly introduced at the luncheon by second-generation liberal philanthropist Jonathan Soros, CEO of JS Capital Management Llc.

In January, Cuomo, who calls fundraising "the least favorite part of my job," reported more than $22 million in his re-election fund.

'EXPLORING' NASSAU: Nearly a month since former Nassau County Executive Thomas Suozzi said he'd run for his old job, a fellow Democrat, North Hempstead Supervisor Jon Kaiman, still is "exploring" a campaign for executive against first-term Republican incumbent Edward Mangano.

Declared Democratic candidate Adam Haber, meanwhile, is keeping his eyes on the prize fight. His campaign sent out a new mailing that shows the back of a car sticking out of the top floor of a house with the message, "If Nassau politicians taught people how to drive, our roads would be as much of a mess as our government."

Its text could target either Suozzi or Mangano or both where it says: "Nassau's quality of life didn't decline overnight. Political insiders ignored the warning signs for years."

Separately, Suozzi created a bit of a buzz in GOP circles earlier this month by showing up at prominent Republican Joseph Cairo's Pat Cairo Family Foundation dinner dance in Franklin Square, in support of those struggling with cancer. "It's a worthwhile charity. I wanted to pay my respects," was how Suozzi explained it Friday. "Even people in politics can be human beings."

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