Cuomo made appointments to state boards. Then, in apparent defiance of his own executive order, he cashed their checks

Aby Rosen and Scott Rechler named in New York Times investigative report

New York Weekend Edition /
Feb.February 25, 2018 01:43 PM

From left: RFR Holding’s Aby Rosen, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, RXR Realty’s Scott Rechler. (Credit: TRD, Pat Arnow, Getty Images, Pixabay)

An investigation by the New York Times claims two dozen appointees to state boards have collectively donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s political campaign, in spite of an executive order the governor himself signed prohibiting the practice.

Two prominent real estate figures — and longtime donors to Cuomo — are mentioned in the investigative report. Cuomo’s team, meanwhile, has quietly reinterpreted the executive order, which bars appointees from donating to or soliciting donations for the governor who made the appointment.

Aby Rosen, the principal and co-founder of RFR Holding, was appointed to the arts’ council board in 2011 after his wife and he donated about $85,000 over the course of the preceding five years. Following his appointment, Rosen continued donating to Cuomo’s campaigning efforts paying for private planes on two occasions, according to the Times, and donating $40,000 personally and $50,000 from RFR.

Rosen has been donating to Cuomo’s campaigns since 2002 and, in 2007, The Real Deal reported he and RFR co-founder Michael Fuchs had donated nearly $300,000 to the then-incoming New York State attorney general’s political ambitions.

Scott Rechler, meanwhile, was identified as the Times to be one of Cuomo’s largest donors, having given over $500,000 from companies he’s tied to, including RXR where he is CEO and chairman. Rechler was appointed to the MTA board in June 2017 and months later donated $65,000 to Cuomo — a pattern the Times found to be commonplace among Cuomo’s so-called “donor-appointees.”

Cuomo’s practice of accepting donations from current or future state appointees appears to fly in the face of an executive order Cuomo himself upheld on his first day in office back in 2011 to prevent such ethical blurs, however Cuomo justifies the Times’ finding that he has accepted $2.2 million from 37 appointees since assuming the governorship by claiming a different interpretation of the order.

“The purpose of the order is to prohibit employees and board members who serve at the pleasure of the governor from making political contributions,” said Cuomo’s lawyer Alphonso David to the Times.

“It does not apply to every single person who serves in government, to individuals who volunteer for government, or to individuals who were appointed by the Senate and cannot be removed by the executive,” he continued. “A different reading simply divorces the purpose of the order from its language.” [NYT]Erin Hudson


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
Governor Andrew Cuomo and Senator James Skoufis (Credit: Getty Images, NY Senate)
Owners of some residential properties can’t hide behind LLCs anymore
Owners of some residential properties can’t hide behind LLCs anymore
Governor Andrew Cuomo and 538 Johnson Avenue in Brooklyn (Credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)
Landlords take another hit: Cuomo signs expanded Loft Law
Landlords take another hit: Cuomo signs expanded Loft Law
Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)
Cuomo wants to exempt NYC from prevailing wage bill
Cuomo wants to exempt NYC from prevailing wage bill
Hudson Yards (iStock)
EB-5 program set to expire at the end of June
EB-5 program set to expire at the end of June
RSA President Joe Strasburg (Jefferson Siegel) and Governor Cuomo (Getty)
Landlords ask Cuomo to ditch eviction ban after ending Covid restrictions
Landlords ask Cuomo to ditch eviction ban after ending Covid restrictions
Mayor Bill de Blasio and REBNY president James Whelan (Getty, Whelan via Anuja Shakya)
Business alliance urges de Blasio not to blow $22B federal aid windfall
Business alliance urges de Blasio not to blow $22B federal aid windfall
Council member Rafael Salamanca Jr and Public Advocate Jumaane Williams (Getty, Facebook via Salamanca Jr.)
City Council to require racial equity reports for rezonings
City Council to require racial equity reports for rezonings
(Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
Years ago he took a bribe. Now he can’t get a license
Years ago he took a bribe. Now he can’t get a license
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...