ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is giving up about $534,000 in campaign contributions associated with the key players convicted in two corruption trials tied to his upstate initiatives, following a wave of criticism.
Cuomo’s campaign said the money won’t be returned to the donors but instead will be distributed among non-profits that work for abortion rights, immigrants’ legal defense and Puerto Rico hurricane recovery.
The money came from executives and their associates who were involved with LP Ciminelli (a Buffalo developer), COR Development (Syracuse) and Competitive Power Ventures (Hudson Valley power plant); and it covers Todd Howe, the former lobbyist and Cuomo insider who connected the developers to the Cuomo administration.
The trials, concluded in March and early July, resulted in the convictions of six men, including Cuomo’s former top aide, Joseph Percoco, and the former president of the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, Alain Kaloyeros.
“Two years ago, the campaign removed these donations and segregated them into a separate account. The money is currently in the process of being donated and will be dispersed in the coming days to groups who do important work on behalf of vital causes: immigrant legal defense, women’s reproductive health rights, and Puerto Rico recovery efforts,” Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Abbey Collins said in a statement.
Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo’s rival for the Democratic nomination, and Republican candidate Marc Molinaro had called on the governor to return any contributions from the convicted developers. Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara — who had launched the investigations into the Cuomo projects before stepping down — also took to Twitter to urge Cuomo to return the money.