A group of entities located in or tied to Kiryas Joel deposited $250,000 in Gov. Andrew Cuomo's campaign account on Monday and Tuesday, less than a week after the governor vetoed two bills spawned by the Kiryas Joel annexation controversy that leaders of that community strenuously opposed, according to the financial disclosure report Cuomo's campaign filed this week.
Cuomo's haul included eight $25,000 checks from four limited liability corporations that listed the same address in Brooklyn and that appear to be connected to Mayer Hirsch, a Kiryas Joel resident and former village trustee who oversees the land development arm of Kiryas Joel's main congregation. Three of the entities that made contributions listed Hirsch's home address in Kiryas Joel when they were incorporated in 2012 and 2013.
The remaining $50,000 came in a single check from a limited liability corporation that listed the home address in Kiryas Joel of Hirsch's son, Jacob.
The disclosure of the donations has further infuriated activists who supported the bills that Cuomo vetoed, one of which would have enabled Orange County planners to recommend approval or rejection of two pending proposals to annex 507 acres or 164 acres into Kiryas Joel from the Town of Monroe. Emily Convers, chairwoman of the United Monroe citizens group, called the sudden infusion of campaign cash an obvious payment for services rendered by the governor.
"For anyone to doubt for a second who Cuomo is working for and what motivated him to veto, look no further than this blatant purchase of an elected leader," Convers said on Friday. "When those opposed to an environmental oversight bill are screaming 'anti-Semitism' and paying off the governor, it's hard not to make that assumption. It's despicable."
Reached on his cell phone Friday afternoon, Mayer Hirsch said he would have to look into the contributions and couldn't discuss them until Monday. Vaad Hakiryah, the landholding entity he oversees, owns almost a third of the 285 undeveloped acres included in the larger annexation request.
Can't get more blatant quid pro quo than this - Cuomo vetoes legislation that Kiryas Joel residents want vetoed because it might curtail the village's expansion, then the fellow who oversees land development for the village sends Cuomo $250,000 via eight checks from four different LLC's.
If you're like me, you don't know much about Kiryas Joel - you can read more about the village here.
Let's just say that land acquisition is a big thing for the Village of Kiryas Joel and Cuomo did them a big favor when he killed legislation that might have kept the village from expanding.
Bill Mahoney from Capital NY reported on this first and you can read his story here.
There often aren't many comments on Capital NY stories, but this one got a bunch: