Mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa is calling for a state probe of scandal-scarred Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s high-dollar June 29 re-election fundraiser.
Sliwa urged state Attorney General Letitia James to scrutinize who is calling up donors on Cuomo’s behalf to kick in to his re-election campaign amid multiple active investigations of the governor over his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and several sexual harassment allegation from women, some of whom worked for the governor.
Sliwa also said the AG should look at what pressing legislative, budget and regulatory issues that Cuomo’s donor lobbyists and their clients — including corporate honchos, not-for-profit entities and labor unions —have before his office.
The Cuomo campaign is asking donors to kick in at least $10,000 or $15,000 per couple for the NYC event.
“This is the ultimate pay to play. This is the height of chutzpah,” Sliwa said.
Sliwa called the fundraiser an “extreme situation” given Cuomo’s multiple probes and his desperation to appear politically strong and relevant.
“This is a Cuomo litmus test. Are you for me? Do you have my back? Are you with us or against us,” Sliwa said.
It is believed to be the three-term Cuomo’s first high-dollar fundraiser since facing a blizzard of probes of his actions. The Cuomo campaign had $16.8 million cash on hand as of January.
The state Assembly Judiciary Committee is conducting an impeachment inquiry into accusations that Cuomo hid the true number of COVID nursing home resident deaths, gave family members and associates priority access to COVID tests during the early days of the pandemic, used staffers and other government resources to help write his $5.2 million memoir on the pandemic, and claims that he sexually harassed female or former female staffers.
James has launched her own investigation into the sexual harassment claims and the circumstances surrounding the Cuomo book.
Meanwhile, the Brooklyn U.S. Attorney’s Office and the FBI are investigating team Cuomo’s alleged underreporting of COVID nursing home deaths, launched after The Post exclusively reported that a top Cuomo aide admitted to hiding the complete data from state lawmakers for months out of fear the information would be “used against us” by federal prosecutors in the Trump Justice Department.
Vivian Zayas, co-founder of VoicesForSeniors, whose mom, nursing home resident Ana Martinez, died from COVID last year, blasted the Cuomo fundraiser.
“The audacity that he has. Cuomo is shameless and arrogant,” Zayas said.
“He’s holding a fundraiser on the backs of dead people. It’s outrageous. We’d like to know where the fundraiser is so we can go to protest,” she said.
Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing.
Team Cuomo sought to belittle Sliwa’s call for a fundraising probe.
“I don’t comment on sad bids for attention. This used car salesman should go back to yelling at squeegee guys in front of the cameras,” said Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi.
James’ office declined comment.
But Democratic Party insiders are privately discussing what Republican Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, is saying publicly.
Nearly the entire New York Democratic congressional delegation — including powerful US Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand — have called for Cuomo to resign amid the scandals, claiming he can no longer effectively govern.
One Albany insider said the Cuomo fundraiser is a “test” about his viability. Cuomo would be seeking a fourth-term next year if he runs.
“People close to him tell me he’s running again. He thinks he’s survived the worst of the scandals,” the source said.
But a Democratic Party official, who requested anonymity, said even Cuomo can’t survive the multiple investigation and is merely buying time to “freeze the field” of potential Democratic opponents.
“It’s kind of pathetic that he’s relying on lobbyists and businesses he regulated to bankroll his campaigns,” the party source said.
“The attorney general’s report will not exonerate him.”