Watchdog groups slammed Gov. Kathy Hochul Friday for hitting up donors for campaign funds just hours before the state budget is due — with billions of dollars up for grabs in 11th-hour talks with the legislature.
“I’m reaching out today because I’m facing my first quarterly fundraising deadline since I was officially sworn in as New York’s 57th Governor earlier this year,” Hochul said in a fundraising email sent to supporters.
“Over the last few months, I’ve been fighting hard to deliver solutions to the problems everyday New Yorkers are facing.”
She also talked about funding child care and pushing for building “much-needed affordable housing.”
“With so many more critical fights ahead, will you contribute to our end-of-quarter grassroots fundraising goal before tonight’s deadline so we can keep up our work to make New York stronger? Any amount you can contribute would be greatly appreciated.”
A link in the letter sends readers to a site to donate to Hochul’s 2026 re-election campaign with donations ranging from $10 to $1,000 or more. She was just elected last November.
Government watchdog groups rapped Hochul’s fundraising pitch as inappropriate and ethically bone-headed, saying the governor should focus all her attention on adopting a budget with the legislature.
The fiscal year 2024 budget will be late, with Hochul and lawmakers still far apart on issues including bail reform, affordable housing construction, whether to lift the cap on charter schools in New York City and taxes.
“Governor Hochul — and all lawmakers — should be focused on passing the state budget as soon as possible, not fundraising,” said Susan Lerner, executive director of NY Common Cause.
Lerner noted that part of the budget would help fund a new public campaign finance program aimed at reducing the role of fat cat donors in elections. Candidates who accept lower dollar donations would get public matching funds.
“If we had a successful and robust public financing program, lawmakers would be concentrated on passing an on-time budget, and not asking wealthy donors to fund their campaigns,” Lerner said.
The e-solicitation is “totally obtuse ethically,” said John Kaheny, executive director of Reinvent Albany.
“It comes across as an invitation for pay-to-play: `you contribute to me at this critical time, and I take care of your needs.’”
Legislators are also raking it in. At least 21 members of the Senate and Assembly have held fundraisers this budget season with donors who have business before the state, City & State reported.
Hochul has repeatedly insisted that campaign donations don’t affect her policy decisions despite multiple accusations of pay-to-play arrangements with campaign donors with business before state government as she ran for a full term last year.
Hochul talked “community matters” with a high-powered campaign donor, Charlie Tebele, weeks before his firm was awarded a $338 million contract to provide rapid COVID-19 tests, recently unearthed emails revealed.
Hochul, a booster of expanding the controversial $700 million film and tax credit for Hollywood producers, has held fundraisers and collected funds from film producers and met with billionaire donor Alexander Rovt, who oversees a financially ailing private hospital system, One Brooklyn Health.
By: Ny Post