Cuomo schedules lavish fundraisers as legislature tussles over major issues

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s campaign has scheduled a series of fundraisers in coming weeks — including two at $5,000 a ticket — as the legislature grapples with issues from rent control to marijuana legalization.

The headliner: A May 8 event at Yankee Stadium when the Bronx Bombers play the Seattle Mariners, and a single seat will cost five grand.

That’s followed by a small, $25-per-ticket “LGBT for Cuomo Happy Hour” on May 21.

Just a couple of weeks later, Cuomo hits up the heavy hitters again at a $5,000 “Long Island Cocktail Reception” in Great Neck on June 2.

Then it’s off to “Long Island Summer Happy Hour” in Glen Cove at $50 a guest.

Also in the works: a “Taste of New York New York Summer Dinner reception,” where tickets will start at $1,000.

The fundraising avalanche comes as Cuomo and state lawmakers debate high-profile bills before the 2019 legislative session ends in June.

On tap are: an overhaul of rent regulations, whether to legalize marijuana and sports betting and whether to raise the cap on charter schools.

The rush for campaign cash also comes five months after Cuomo was reelected.

Cuomo took heat for holding a big-bucks fundraiser at the St. Regis Hotel amid negotiations during the state budget last month.

Government watchdog groups have long advocated reducing big-money donations and restricting fundraising during the legislative session to discourage pay-to-play politics.

Change may be coming. The state budget recently adopted by Cuomo and the Legislature establishes a commission for create a public finance program by the end of 2019.

“Of course people are trying to influence the governor by making big campaign contributions. Donors want to influence the laws that are passed and make sure those laws benefit their interests,” said John Kaehny of the Reinvent Albany watchdog group.

Kaehny said the law that allows fundraising during the legislative session is “wrong” and called New York’s campaign finance system “corrupt.”

Cuomo has proven adept at raising tens of millions of dollars under the current rules.

“It’s a bundlers’ ball. The lobbyists are bringing money. Will the fundraiser be on the field or in the super box,” Blair Horner of the NY Public Interest Research Group quipped of the Yankee Stadium fundraiser.

Horner said the governor is following the time-honored practice of building up his campaign warchest to drive away opposition.

“The governor could have a fundraiser on Mars and lobbyists would be there,” he said. “The whole system creates conflicts.”

He noted about half the states in the nation restrict donations during legislative sessions.

Many of New York’s 211 state lawmakers also hold big-bucks fundraisers, often just blocks away from the state Capitol, while the legislature is still in session.

In response, the Cuomo campaign forwarded comments the governor made on April 1 defending the early fundraising.

“The fundraiser is by state limits so it can’t be used to run for president or for mayor. I use it to help do my job. I will run commercials to help pass a budget. I will run public information campaigns, this is congestion pricing, this is why we should reduce taxes. And I am not running for president. I am governor and I have, my only plan now is to serve as governor. And then good lord willing, three and three quarters years down the road, we’ll see where we are. But I would want to be in a position, if the people would have me, to run for re-election,” Cuomo said.

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