After Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s State of State speech in January, the political world wondered where he got the idea for a huge, Malaysian-financed convention center.
Now it appears clear. The idea originated at a fund-raiser for Mr. Cuomo in Westchester County, where gambling executives from a Malaysian company, Genting, presented to the governor a proposal for a convention center and casino complex at the Aqueduct racetrack in Queens.
On Monday night, The New York Times reported that Genting, a subsidiary of Southeast Asia’s largest gambling company, gave $400,000 to an advocacy group that was set up at Mr. Cuomo’s urging, and that the New York Gaming Association gave $2 million to the group as the governor was developing plans to legalize casino gambling and create the Queens convention center.
On Tuesday night, The Wall Street Journal reported that senior Genting executives put forth the idea for the convention center at a fund-raiser in October at the Westchester estate of Barry Gosin, a commercial property broker. The event was attended by a number of real estate and gambling executives; the convention proposal was made by K. T. Lim, the chairman of Genting, as well as by Christian Goode, the company’s lobbyist. Jennifer Cunningham, a communications strategist who consults for Genting, was also on hand.
The fund-raiser was not originally disclosed on the governor’s public schedules, The Journal reported; the omission, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo told the newspaper, was “inadvertent.”
The Cuomo administration offered no comment on Wednesday morning. A spokesman for Genting did not return a call for comment, and Ms. Cunningham said she had no comment.
Of the three Genting representatives present at the fund-raiser, only Mr. Goode was registered as a lobbyist at the time, according to state records. It is not clear, however, who said what to Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat.
A few weeks after the fund-raiser, the gaming association, of which Genting is a member, contributed the $2 million to the Committee to Save New York, the private lobbying group that Mr. Cuomo pushed to be set up. And a review of state records showed that by the end of the year, Genting was lobbying in support of his effort to legalize casinos in New York, noting its support of the governor’s legislation in a state record filed at the end of 2011.
New York Magazine puts this story into context:
Yet even well short of outright corruption, Cuomo has a significant problem: He looks too clever for using the Committee to dance around disclosure requirements, and the mess damages the image he’s built since his days as New York attorney general: a reform politician taking on Albany’s pay-to-pay culture. Yesterday Cuomo’s office sent the Times a 2,200-word letter defending the relationship, but it isn’t enough to argue legalities when the whole thing smells bad. The governor knows this. So was it a coincidence, or more cleverness — a preemptive attempt to restore his can’t-be-bought brand — that Cuomo jumped out of bed with Genting, the company behind the Queens mega-casino proposal, days before the Times ran its casino money story?
This is the first real damage we've seen on Governor Transparency and it's a doozy.
Cuomo is now exposed as just another Albany politician up for sale who hides that the fact behind lies, non-disclosures and half-truths.
The next time this hypocrite calls some politician in the Assembly a shill for the unions, the natural response will be "Whose paying you, Andrew? The gamblers? The bankers? The real estate industry? Big Pharma? The hedge fundies?
Actually it is all of the above - those are the contributors to the Committee To Save New York, CSNY.
This is the modern Democratic Party, where a Democratic governor is bought and sold by the gambling industry, the banking industry, the real estate industry and other business interests, refuses to disclose the payoffs and then has the audacity to point at the unions for their lobbying.
Compared to the cash Cuomo is raking in under the table, the union lobbying is small time.
We'll see if this dents Cuomo's vaunted 71% approval rating.
It's not a difficult story to understand - governor meets with gamblers, takes $2 million in gambler cash, promotes plan to legalize gambling in the state and hand a race track over to a contributor.
Yeah, that's a pretty easy story to understand with a very simple moral:
Cuomo is a crook.