July 20–Updated at 11 p.m. with comment from Cuomo campaign aide
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — As he prepared for a campaign fundraiser this evening in Syracuse, Republican candidate for governor Marc Molinaro criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s fundraising. He said Cuomo’s massive $31 million campaign account is tainted by Albany’s pay-to-play culture.
“Every dollar seems to be infected by this culture of corruption that he’s either afraid or unwilling to address,” said Molinaro, the Dutchess County executive.
Molinaro, who had less than $900,000 in campaign funds as of July 15, accused Cuomo of taking large donations from donors seeking state grants, contracts or other favors from government. He also mocked the governor for numerous small donations reported by his campaign — including 69 $1 donations from a man with connections to Cuomo’s staff — an apparent effort to demonstrate grassroots enthusiasm.
“I think the governor’s made a mockery of campaign finance and campaign rules in the state of New York,” Molinaro told reporters during a brief interview at the Onondaga County Legislature chambers.
How would Molinaro be different?
The candidate said he would push for term limits of eight years on statewide officials and would not allow campaign donations from companies seeking business with the state.
Molinaro also said he would radically revise the state’s approach to economic development. He said he would focus on cutting taxes, building infrastructure and training workers — not providing incentives to targeted companies.
“No more direct cash to businesses,” he said. “Taking money from taxpayers and giving it to those who are well connected — that is wrong.”
Cuomo has proposed a series of ethics reforms during his eight years in office; some the Legislature adopted, but others fizzled. Cuomo’s proposals this year included term limits, banning outside income for legislators, and closing the limited liability company (LLC) loopholes that allow corporations to exceed campaign donation limits.
Abbey Collins, speaking for the Cuomo campaign, said Molinaro’s criticisms were a “distraction from his failing pro-NRA, anti-LGBTQ, anti-woman campaign.”
Besides attending a fundraiser tonight, Molinaro planned to meet today with state Sen. John DeFrancisco, formerly his rival for the Republican nomination. DeFrancisco dropped out of the governor’s race three months ago, after it became clear Molinaro had more support.
“He’s been very helpful to me,” Molinaro said.
Molinaro also attended a news conference today with several Republican county lawmakers to promote a program called “Think Differently” that seeks to expand acceptance and opportunities for people with autism or other disabilities.
Molinaro made news this week when he said he supports at least limited hydrofracking, the controversial gas drilling technique that Cuomo banned in 2014. Molinaro said he advocates “a DEC-monitored pilot program” to test fracking in the Southern Tier.
The pilot program would be undertaken only after state environmental officials map the state’s water sources to protect them, he said.
Molinaro declined to provide more specifics on his fracking proposal today, other than to say his motivation was “job creation.”
Ryan McMahon, chairman of the Onondaga County Legislature, said county lawmakers will vote on a resolution next month to adopt “Think Differently,” an initiative Molinaro launched in 2014 in Dutchess County. The loosely defined program, which aims to raise awareness and promote inclusion of people with special needs, has been adopted by more than 100 communities across the state, Molinaro said.
Contact reporter Tim Knauss — email — Twitter — 315-470-3023
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