A political-lobbying group founded by real estate developers and business executives closely allied with Governor Andrew Cuomo received a total of $2 million from a gambling interest group last December, the New York Times reported. The group, the Committee to Save New York, is led by REBNY President Steven Spinola and Tishman Speyer President Rob Speyer, and received the money as Cuomo worked on a proposal to expand casino gambling in New York.
The money came from the New York Gaming Association, and Gov. Cuomo has denied being influenced by money coming from the gambling industry, even though he made known his support for expanded gambling in his State of the State address in January, after the contributions were made.
The Committee to Save New York has become the biggest lobbying spender in Albany, the Times said. As previously reported, the group has raised over $12 million for Gov. Cuomo and $17 million overall in 2011. The committee defended its spending. “From the inception of C.S.N.Y., we have focused on a reform agenda designed to help create jobs, improve the economy of our state and get state government working for the people again,” a spokesperson told the Times.
Jeffrey Gural, chairman of Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, said he chipped in $200,000 to the committee last year in part because expanding casino gambling would benefit upstate jobs. [NYT]