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3 progressive lawmakers criticize Cuomo $25,000-a-plate fundraiser

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo during a news conference

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo during a news conference in the Red Room at the state Capitol in Albany on Feb. 11, 2019. Credit: AP/Hans Pennink

ALBANY — Three of the rising stars in the State Legislature and the Democratic progressive movement called Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo hypocritical on Wednesday for holding a $25,000-a-plate fundraiser while saying he is fighting for campaign finance reform.

“I think it’s hypocritical,” said Sen. Alessandra Biaggi (D-Bronx). “It is impossible to say a $25,000 ticket is not influencing.”

“Talking the talk is one. Walking the walk is another,” said Assemb. Yuh-Line Niou (D-Manhattan). “We’re asking him to walk his talk.”

“Pay-to-play politics must end,” said Sen. Jessica Ramos (D-Queens). “Our concern is that the governor stick to his word.”

She acknowledged that she had a recent fundraiser, but in hindsight should have canceled it.

“These hypocrites should practice what they preach and take a look in the mirror,” said Cuomo senior adviser Rich Azzopardi. “They and their colleagues hold fundraisers daily, a hop skip and jump from the Capitol. “

The three legislators also said fundraising should be banned during the time the state budget is being crafted.

The legislators held an impromptu news conference after they said they read tweets of a New York Times story about Cuomo’s fundraiser headlined: “A Secretive Dinner Where $25,000 Buys Access to Cuomo.”

The state budget is due by midnight Sunday night and one of the issues being discussed is a proposal to use public funds to operate political campaigns. The long-proposed measure is favored by many good-government advocates as a way to reduce the influence of big-money donors through a 6:1 match of public funds to candidates who must raise contributions in smaller amounts, with the intent of attracting more donors.

The system would be voluntary, but the legislators on Wednesday said a similar system in New York City has prompted more people to run for office who couldn’t otherwise raise enough funding.

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