Cuomo has $16 million in campaign cash and no campaign. What now?

Written By: Katie Glueck © 2021 The New York Times The New York Times
Washington Updated: Jan 19, 2022, 04:26 PM(IST)

The filing of the lawsuit, which coincided with New York Democrats overwhelmingly endorsing Cuomo’s successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, as their nominee in this year’s election, was a reminder that he still faces potential legal jeopardy over the events that hastened his resignation in August. Photograph:( Reuters )

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The most recent disclosure report showed that Cuomo’s stockpile had diminished since leaving office, as he made significant expenditures to law firms

Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo may have resigned in disgrace last year amid accusations of sexual harassment, but he still controls a war chest of more than $16 million, according to records released Tuesday.

Cuomo, once one of the strongest fundraisers in the Democratic Party, left office last summer with $18 million in campaign funds. It was a staggering amount, especially for a departing official — though that sum has been surpassed by his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, whose team announced Tuesday that her campaign raised nearly $21.6 million in five months, with more than $21 million in cash on hand.

The most recent disclosure report showed that Cuomo’s stockpile had diminished since leaving office, as he made significant expenditures to law firms, reflecting the morass of legal difficulties he has confronted.

But with more than $16.4 million in cash on hand, Cuomo remains among the best-funded political figures in New York.

Cuomo is not fundraising as a candidate, but he has continued to communicate with supporters and to pay a few advisers — and he has also continued to take in some donations, in particular low-dollar donations, some of which came from outside New York. Some associates have said he appears interested in regaining relevance in public life, even as many big-spending onetime allies have cut ties. He reported more than $200,000 in contributions and more than $2 million in expenditures for the latest campaign finance period.

The release comes several weeks after top prosecutors in Nassau, Westchester and Albany counties declared the sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo to be disturbing, credible and serious, but concluded that they would not prosecute him for a crime.

Cuomo has plainly been emboldened by those developments.

Last week, Cuomo’s lawyer, Rita Glavin, held a news conference in which she questioned the credibility of some of the women who accused Cuomo of misconduct, and laced into the state attorney general’s office, which oversaw the investigation that concluded Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.

She declined to speculate on Cuomo’s political future, but said he was exploring “whatever legal options he has available to him.”

Cuomo’s campaign arm paid for an email to supporters Tuesday morning that sharply criticized Attorney General Letitia James and promoted Glavin’s appearance. James and her team have strongly defended the report.

At the same time, Cuomo has remained in touch with associates and onetime allies, sounding some of them out over the past several months about the political landscape, even as many Democrats have made clear they hope he stays on the sidelines. One Democrat familiar with some of Cuomo’s calls said that he appeared to have started increasing his outreach in the New York political arena this month, as a judge dismissed a criminal complaint that had accused him of groping a former aide in the Executive Mansion in late 2020.

Another person who spoke with him in recent weeks said Cuomo gave the impression that he was seeking vindication, and made clear that he believed those who had called for his resignation had made a mistake.

Cuomo could use his remaining funds beyond any effort to seek office himself, from making political donations — though accepting money from him would be politically fraught for many Democrats — to attacking perceived adversaries to efforts to improve his image.

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