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Cuomo derided by GOP hopeful for violating order on donations

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, was criticized by

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, was criticized by Sen. John DeFrancisco, who is running for governor as a Republican. Credit: AP

A Republican gubernatorial candidate criticized Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Monday for accepting campaign contributions from political appointees, saying the governor violated his own executive order.

Sen. John DeFrancisco (R-Syracuse) cited a recent report in The New York Times that found Cuomo, a Democrat, had received about $2 million in contributions from people he appointed to various boards and positions, their spouses, their children or their businesses.

The contributions run counter to an executive order first signed by then-Gov. Eliot Spitzer in 2007 and then renewed by Cuomo when he took office in 2011. The Cuomo administration told the Times it viewed the order as applying only to those appointees who could be fired by a governor at any time, not board members with set terms, which would be a narrower interpretation than previous governors’.

DeFrancisco called the explanation “absolute sophistry” and “dishonest.”

“If you’re going to claim you’re going to be the person to get rid of corruption, the first step is to follow your own rules,” DeFrancisco said after holding a news conference at Penn Station. “It’s not only hypocritical. It’s worse — it’s dishonest.”

The senator, one of three announced Republican candidates, said the practice represents “pay to play” dealing, in which campaign contributors receive special treatment.

The head of the state Democratic Party, responding for Cuomo, fired back that DeFrancisco a “walking example of pay to play.”

Geoff Berman, in an email, accused DeFrancisco of “taking money from trial lawyers to stop tort reform and getting money from health care companies and opioid manufacturers to oppose the proposed surcharge against them.”

DeFrancisco countered that Democrats were trying to change the subject.

“It’s different to take contributions from the general public as opposed to violating an executive order you put in place,” the senator said.

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