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On 2nd thought: After criticism, Cuomo returns Weinstein donations

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here on Oct.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here on Oct. 1, 2017, announced he is returning contributions from producer Harvey Weinstein. Credit: Charles Eckert

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Thursday he would donate to charity all his campaign contributions from Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein, who faces sexual harassment accusations, according to a statement issued after hours of intense criticism from the state Republican Party.

Earlier Thursday, the Democratic governor said he had donated $50,000 he received from Weinstein during the last two years for his current re-election campaign. But regarding Weinstein donations to his previous campaigns, he said, “Obviously, money he donated in the past campaigns has been spent and is gone.”

Those 2010 and 2014 campaigns had concluded with millions of dollars left unspent and Cuomo’s campaign now has more than $25 million on hand, state records show.

State Republican Chairman Ed Cox had called Cuomo’s reasoning “a ridiculous and bogus excuse.”

“He had $9 million left after the last campaign and is sitting on $25 million currently,” Cox said Thursday afternoon. “Every other Democrat elected official in the country has given back the money — including Senators [Chuck] Schumer and [Kirsten] Gillibrand — dating back to the 1990s. What is wrong with him that he is obsessed with hanging onto this creep’s money?”

Hours later, Basil Smikle of the state Democratic Party headed by Cuomo released a statement that blamed the Republicans.

“It’s shameful that some have sought to use this matter to score political points, but the real issues are far too serious to allow any distraction to overtake them,” Smikle stated Thursday night. “For that reason, the extraordinary step will be taken of giving all contributions from prior campaigns whose committees have been closed for years so that we can dispense with the Republican ploys and focus on the real issues.”

State Board of Elections records show Cuomo’s 2018 re-election campaign received $25,000 from Weinstein in April and $25,000 in July 2015. Cuomo received nearly $30,000 between 2008 and 2012 during his first and second campaigns for governor, records show.

Weinstein of Manhattan was terminated by his company after the issue was reported by The New York Times. Weinstein has denied sexually harassing anyone.

Schumer and Gillibrand of New York reported this week that they donated all of their Weinstein contributions to charities that benefit women.

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