Lee Zeldin out-raises Gov. Cuomo as donations dry up amid scandals
Campaign contributions to Gov. Andrew Cuomo plunged more than 40 percent amid his recent rash of scandals, official Board of Elections filings showed Friday — as his likely Republican challenger far outraised him in half the time.
Cuomo raised less than $2.3 million during the six months that ended Sunday, compared to almost $4 million during the six months that ended Jan. 11, according to campaign finance documents posted online.
But Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Long Island) raked in nearly $4.1 million since declaring his candidacy on April 8.
Zeldin, who was named the GOP’s “presumptive nominee” following a straw poll of Republican leaders late last month, said he received contributions from more than 9,000, with money pouring in from each of the state’s 62 counties.
Zeldin — a staunch supporter of former President Donald Trump — also said that 94 percent of the donations were in amounts of $250 or less.
“New Yorkers are fired up and passionately all in to Save our State, and they’re taking action,” he said in a prepared statement.
“They know Cuomo’s Gotta Go, and it’s going to take a new generation of leadership to get the job done.”
Despite his fundraising edge, Zeldin’s total war chest of $3.2 million on hand after expenditures is dwarfed by Cuomo’s, which is nearly $18.3 million.
The 43 percent decline in contributions to Cuomo came as he battles allegations that he sexually harassed a series of current and former female aides, about which he’s set to be grilled Saturday by outside lawyers hired by state Attorney General Letitia James.
The three-term Democrat is also under investigation by federal authorities over the state’s nursing home death toll from COVID-19 and his $5.1 million pandemic memoir, and he’s facing a wide-ranging impeachment probe by the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee.
Cuomo — who has denied any misconduct — still managed to score hefty contributions last month from supermarket magnate and former Republican mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis, who gave $25,000, and former HBO CEO Michael Fuchs, who donated $35,000.
The Greenberg Traurig law firm, which is also a major state lobbyist, and its political action committee made five donations that totaled more than $57,000 and media mogul Barry Diller contributed $22,600 on Jan. 20.
Meanwhile, Catsimatidis also gave $10,000 to Zeldin, who got $50,000 from real-estate mogul and former Post publisher Peter Kalikow.
Other Zeldin mega-donors include hedge-fund billionaire John Paulson, who gave the maximum allowed — $60,829 — as did others including private-equity investor Thomas McInerney and hedge-funder John Thaler and his wife, Bonnie.
Zeldin also plowed more than $460,000 from his congressional campaign account into his gubernatorial effort.
Former Republican US Sen. Al D’Amato, who represented New York from 1981 through 1999, said Zeldin was “off to a good start, but he’s got a long way to go.”
“I’m sure Gov. Cuomo is not going to take this election for granted,” he said.
“I wouldn’t sell Cuomo short and anybody who does is making a mistake.”