ALBANY – Fresh off a major fundraiser in Manhattan where Billy Joel sang him a birthday song, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo heads to Washington on Monday to raise hundreds of thousands more dollars – this time from some of the most wired lobbyists in the nation’s capital.
The invitation promises to give donors the title of “chair” in return for contributing $25,000 to Cuomo’s 2014 re-election effort – a campaign he has not yet announced and that he declines to discuss until sometime next year.
A $1,000 contribution gets the donor the title of “guest.”
While a number of large and small lobbying firms in New York State began getting invitations to the event Thursday afternoon, no lobbyist was willing to talk on the record about the event. But Buffalo lawyer G. Steven Pigeon, a former Erie County Democratic Party chairman who has become a Cuomo political adviser, confirmed the D.C. event.
“I’ll be going,” Pigeon said, adding that he expects to be listed as one of the “co-hosts’’ of the Washington fundraiser.
The fundraiser’s host committee reads like a who’s who of Washington insiders, many with long ties to Bill and Hillary Clinton.
The gathering will be at 8:30 a.m. Monday at the G Street offices of the Podesta Group, whose influential principal, Tony Podesta, is listed as one of three “event chairs,” along with Washington lobbyist Steve Elmendorf and philanthropist Catherine Reynolds. Tony Podesta’s brother, John, served as White House chief of staff during the Clinton administration.
Host committee members listed on the invitation, a copy of which was obtained by The Buffalo News, include powerhouse lobbying firm Akin Gump as well as Tonio Burgos, a longtime lobbyist who was an inside player during the administration of former Gov. Mario M. Cuomo, the governor’s father.
Also on the host committee list is D.C. lawyer John Coale, former Long Island U.S. Rep. Tom Downey, now a lobbyist, as well as former Kansas U.S. Rep. Dan Glickman. Donna and Mack McLarty, who also served as Bill Clinton’s chief of staff, are also on the list, as are Beth Dozoretz, a Democratic fundraiser, and Jonathan Mantz, a fundraiser who helped bring in money for Hillary Clinton during her 2008 presidential bid.
Three press aides to the governor could not immediately confirm the event; his 2014 campaign office and the Washington lobbying firm hosting the fundraiser did not return calls to comment. But lobbyists began receiving the invitation Thursday afternoon.
The Manhattan and Washington events come at a time when Cuomo already has at least $28 million in his campaign bank account, as of the most recent public filing in July. The events also come as the governor is campaigning against the role of big money in Albany’s Legislature as evidence for the need for a taxpayer-funded campaign finance system.
Cuomo’s end-of-year push for campaign cash also comes a month before the next fundraising report is due at the state elections board – a filing Cuomo allies say they hope is so large that it will help dissuade Republicans from thinking about challenging him next year.
As a side benefit for the governor, the D.C. event will help keep alive speculation that Cuomo is interested in a 2016 White House run, though polls show him trailing far behind Clinton among Democrats.