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Cuomo's Campaign Supported by Small Number of Wealthy Donors

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Governor Andrew Cuomo has raised more than $30 million for his campaign from wealthy donors, which is the most of any governor in the country, but he is getting the bulk of his campaign cash from from wealthy donors writing big checks. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

Last month, Governor Andrew Cuomo's campaign filings showed that he has raised a whopping $33 million. That's more than any other candidate for governor in the country.

But unlike grassroots politicians within the Democratic party like Barack Obama and, before him, Howard Dean, Cuomo's money comes from a small number of donors.

"This election cycle, he has raised over 80 percent of his money from contributors who have given him $10,000 or more," said Bill Mahoney of the New York Public Interest Research Group.

According to the the last filing, of the $33 million Cuomo has raised, nearly half of the money comes from individuals who gave $40,000 or more. In contrast, Cuomo took less than 1 percent of his haul from those contributing less than $1,000 apiece.

"The only way to really substantively do that is to embrace small donor financing, which has worked in New York City," said Bill Samuels, the founder of EffectiveNY.

Cuomo's largest donor was real estate developer Leonard Litwin, who was able to bypass state contribution limits by donating $800,000 through various limited liability corporations.

"Governor Cuomo is especially skilled at exploiting various loopholes in the law like the LLC loophole," Mahoney said. "In theory, according to campaign finance law, an individual is only allowed to give $60,800 to a candidate for governor."

In his budget message last month, Cuomo announced that publicly financed campaigns would be part of his budget, which is due April 1.

"It's inarguable that the amount of money in politics has created a number of difficult issues," said Cuomo.

Good government groups sent Cuomo a letter urging him to keep campaign finance reform in the budget. There had been some speculation that it could be removed as budget negotiations heat up next month because Republicans in the state Senate are opposed to public financing.

"If he does not keep small donor in the budget, I think not only might he have a challenger in New York, but more importantly, I think his credentials as a progressive across the country are fatally tarnished," Samuels said.

Cuomo is potentially facing a challenge from the left if the Working Families Party decides not to endorse him and run its own candidate.

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