Gov. Cuomo appointed dozens of generous donors to a board helping advise the state on re-opening and lifting New York coronavirus restrictions, The Daily News found.
Thirty-seven Cuomo donors who’ve collectively given him nearly $1 million were put on the “New York Forward Re-Opening Advisory Board” created last month, according to a News analysis of campaign filings.
Nineteen advisory board members have donated at least $10,000 to Cuomo campaigns and all but two have given $1,000 or more.
The Cuomo donors account for 28% of all advisory board’s 134 members – and 21 have shelled out $427,550 for the governor since January 2017 alone.
Cuomo said in April the board will “help guide” the state’s phased re-opening “and ensure businesses are following the necessary guidelines to preserve public health as we work towards a new normal."
The advisory board includes leaders of unions, trade associations, businesses, education institutions, nonprofits and sports teams, as well as big names in real estate, health care, finance and commerce.
Advisory board members are unpaid but their advice will help Cuomo and the state develop coronavirus policies that could ultimately benefit their industries or the businesses and organizations where they work.
“It is deeply disturbing that Governor Cuomo is exploiting the pandemic to promote his billionaire campaign donors to lead the recovery while ignoring the needs of parents, children and educators," said Jasmine Gripper, executive director of the Alliance for Quality Education. "We need a Governor who will demand New York’s billionaires pay their share so our state can recover from COVID-19 — instead of cutting schools and furthering pay-to-play politics.”
NY Daily News
Some things never change — even during a pandemic.
Mayor de Blasio appointed at least 80 donors to advisory groups that were formed to help shape New York City’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Daily News found.
The coronavirus advisers have collectively given Hizzoner at least $176,282 — including $44,320 last year, according to a News analysis of campaign filings. That’s not counting thousands that their relatives gave to de Blasio or any taxpayer funding that the mayor got when certain donations were matched with public financing in city races.
The donors account for nearly a quarter of some 330 people de Blasio appointed to 10 COVID-19 advisory councils and a “fair recovery task force" this month.
While the advisers are unpaid, their guidance will help the city develop coronavirus policies that could benefit the businesses and organizations where they work.
De Blasio has faced multiple investigations into his fund-raising practices, including whether his administration was favorable to donors and others with business before the city. Prosecutors eventually decided against charging de Blasio or his aides — but they still said he intervened on behalf of donors seeking favors from City Hall.
The mayor’s office said advisers have “no decision-making power,” but de Blasio himself has stressed the importance of seeking outside input to bolster the city’s response to coronavirus and other issues.
The councils include industry leaders, head honchos and prominent figures in all aspects of city life: transportation; large business; small business; construction and real estate; education; faith; labor; nonprofit and social services; health, and arts, culture and tourism. While the 10 sector advisory councils will help shepherd the city’s efforts to reopen the economy and lift coronavirus restrictions, the “fair recovery task force” is focused on a broader postpandemic recovery.