ALBANY - A Republican state legislator called for an investigation Monday of how Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s campaign obtained Mets World Series tickets to be used as an election fundraiser.
A Cuomo campaign spokesman called the move "grandstanding."
Assemb. Steve McLaughlin (R-Schaghticoke) released a letter he sent to the state inspector general’s office, asking it to review how the Cuomo campaign acquired the tickets when regular fans had to submit to a lottery.
“As you may be aware, Mets fans are subject to a lottery in order to obtain World Series tickets due to their scarcity and demand, and the news of a wealthy politician cutting corners is disconcerting and frustrating to many Mets fans and constituents alike,” McLaughlin wrote. “It is also my understanding that the New York Mets owners have had business before the state, and Governor Cuomo’s deal may potentially represent a conflict of interest in that regard.”
McLaughlin, an outspoken Cuomo critic, made the request of Inspector General Catherine Leahy Scott, a Cuomo appointee.
Cuomo, a Democrat, initially invited donors to fork over $5,500 each to attend a pregame campaign fundraiser and the game at Citi Field. He planned to hold events before Game 3 of the series, on Oct. 30, and Game 4, on Oct. 31.
But he canceled the events after sharp criticism from watchdog groups, editorial boards and fans that he was exploiting the game to raise cash from deep-pocketed donors. The campaign returned all of its tickets, about 20 for each game, to the Mets, the campaign had said.
Cuomo campaign spokesman Austin Shafran sought to dismiss the assemblyman's criticism.
"This is the usual sort of grandstanding that we've come to expect from Steve McLaughlin, who always attacks the Governor on days that end with 'y,'" Shafran said in a statement. "However, this is the first time I've seen someone call for an investigation into something that even they say is legal."
Shafran referred to McLaughlin's acknowledgement that the type of fund-raiser was legal. However, McLaughlin raised questions about the acquisition of the tickets, not the governor's ability to hold the event.
Earlier in the World Series, Cuomo and two aides flew to Game 1 of the series in Kansas City on a private jet with Mets owners Fred and Jeff Wilpon. Using money from his campaign account, Cuomo was to pay "face value" for the game ticket, an aide said previously, although the amount wasn't specified. The governor also will reimburse the Wilpons for airfare at "fair market value," the spokesman said.