Reformer: Cuomo using campaign money for Israel trip better than using funds for defense lawyer

Aug 14, 2014

A member of a government reform group says it’s ok if Governor Cuomo uses his campaign coffers to finance this week’s trip to Israel if the visit is for political, rather than government purposes.

Blair Horner, with the New York Public Interest Research Group, says it’s preferable for Governor Cuomo to use funds from his $35 million dollar campaign fund to pay for his visit to Israel than for state taxpayers to foot the bill.  Horner says by using the campaign money, Cuomo is also signaling that the trip is more of a political event than official government business.

“It’s becoming clearer that this is really a political trip,” Horner said. “He was invited by the President of Israel to come visit, there is certainly a reasonable argument to be made that this is a way to show solidarity with Israel.”

Homer and other government reform groups have  said, though, that Cuomo’ s use of campaign funds to pay for a criminal defense attorney for his office is not an appropriate use of the money. Cuomo’s office is under federal investigation in connection with a now disbanded ethics panel.  Under what critics says are New York’s lenient campaign laws, both uses of campaign funds, for foreign visits, and for criminal defense, are legal.