The New York State Democratic Committee raised $7 million to help fund a more than $5 million ad campaign promoting Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s legislative agenda, according to Board of Elections records made public today.
The vast majority of the funds raised were through the committee’s “housekeeping” or soft money account that did not have caps on contributions levels.
The TV and radio campaign supplanted the now-dormant Committee to Save New York, a consortium of business interests and private-sector labor groups aligned with Cuomo’s agenda during his first two years in office.
But as Cuomo tracked to the left in 2013 in the lead up to his 2014 re-election effort, the committee declined to register with ethics regulators to lobby state government this year.
At CSNY’s height, it spent $12 million on a wall-to-wall ad campaign, raising millions from undisclosed donors.
Just before new reporting requirements took effect, the committee raised about $1 million from only five donors.
Now Cuomo has turned to the Democratic Committee, enlisting the help of veteran PR consultant and former Paterson aide Peter Kauffmann.
Donors to the state committee’s housekeeping account included billionaire financier George Soros, a boogeyman for Republicans and backer of liberal causes. He contributed $750,000 to the committee. Soros’ son Jonathan has become involved in state politics as well, backing an effort to publicly finance political campaigns statewide.
James Simons, a retired hedge fund manager and the chairman of Cuomo’s post-Hurricane Sandy relief effort, donated $1 million.
The committee is not expected to slow down next year. As the Wall Street Journalreported today, the committee is expected to take on the task of promoting Cuomo’s agenda through an aggressive digital-based operation similar to President Obama’s successful 2012 effort.