Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, June 23, 2014

How Crooked Are Andrew Cuomo And Sandra Lee?

From Fred Dicker at the NY Post:

State Republicans want to know if Gov. Cuomo’s live-in girlfriend, “Semi-Homemade’’ celebrity chef Sandra Lee, is subsidizing his living expenses with income from companies doing business with the state, a possible “gifts law’’ violation, The Post has learned.

Republicans — who recently accused Lee, owner of the $1.2 million, six-bedroom, Westchester home where the First Couple lives, and Cuomo of failing to pay their fair share of property taxes — are combing public records for the names of Lee’s clients to see if they’re doing business with the state or trying to influence state policy, sources said.

“License! Global,’’ a trade publication, reported in 2012, for instance, that Lee, a Food Network star, author of numerous cookbooks and a magazine publisher, had “teamed up” with TV Guide magazine for a new magazine with “high-profile corporate sponsors’’ such as Verizon and Bristol-Myers Squibb.

State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli’s Web site shows that the companies together have hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with New York.

“Companies that hire Lee surely know she’s the governor’s girlfriend and that could be a factor in their decision to pay her,’’ said a GOP operative involved in the research.

Lee is also frequently paid to speak before food and other industry groups, although the names of the companies are generally not publicly disclosed.

Celebrity Talent, a booking agency, says online that Lee charges a minimum in the range of $25,000 to $50,000 for speeches.

She gets from $50,000 to $99,999 for speaking overseas, the agency says.

If Lee and Cuomo were married, Lee would be required to disclose details of her income to the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), which would then check for possible conflicts of interest.

But JCOPE, in an April 2013 decision, held that Lee, despite her relationship with Cuomo, doesn’t have to make any disclosures.

“The governor should be disclosing how much if anything he is contributing to the household costs,’’ said Jessica Proud, a spokeswoman for GOP gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino.

“If his household is benefitting from businesses that have business before the state, that should be disclosed by the governor, who said he was going to have the most transparent administration in history,’’ Proud continued.

Cuomo’s office repeatedly refused to provide any information on what, if any, cost-sharing arrangements the governor has with Lee.

Cuomo’s aides have said in the past that the governor kicks in for household costs including property taxes. But the governor’s publicly disclosed income-tax returns don’t show him making property-tax payments that could be tax-deductible.

Cuomo is paid $179,000 a year as governor and, according to a financial disclosure filed last month, will be paid $700,000 to $900,000 by HarperCollins for a forthcoming memoir.

If they dig, they will find something.

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