ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo yesterday denied a report that his effort to bring casinos to New York was influenced by $2 million in donations from gambling interests to a lobbying group created to support him.
The New York Times reported that the New York Gaming Association provided the funding as Cuomo developed a plan to expand casinos.
The contribution was made to the Committee to Save New York. That's the business group that has spent $10 million on an unprecedented TV ad campaign to support Cuomo's policies and actions. The group is not yet required to identify donors.
"To try to suggest an improper relationship between the governor and gambling interest is to distort the facts in a malicious or reckless manner," said Cuomo spokesman Richard Bamberger.
The Times cites interviews, unidentified people and records in stating that the Malaysia-based Genting company, part of a huge gambling company, donated $400,000 to the Committee to Save New York in 2011.
The New York Gaming Association founded by Genting and operators of race tracks in New York and the video slot machines placed in them, contributed $2 million as the gaming association sought to make sure any new casinos were built at their tracks, according to the newspaper.
The Times reported that unidentified Cuomo administration officials advised Genting and the Gaming Association, which was considering its own advertising campaign, to contribute to the Committee to Save New York instead and allow the committee to handle the ad campaign.
The Cuomo administration denied the contention.
The newspaper also cites Cuomo's opinion piece Dec. 4 supporting expanded gambling. Days later, the Committee to Save New York also supported the idea. Cuomo, however, had said months before he was exploring the expansion of gambling that didn't restrict it to race tracks.
James D. Featherstonhaugh, president of the New York Gaming Association, confirmed that he donated a total of $2 million to the Committee to Save New York in December. But Featherstonhaugh said no one from the Cuomo administration advised him to do so.