Labor bosses and corporate CEOs showed their support for three-term Gov. Andrew Cuomo at a pricey campaign fundraiser Tuesday night despite ongoing investigations over sexual harassment accusations and his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The minimum $10,000 per head and $15,000 per couple event was held at 75 Rockefeller Plaza, a building managed by the RXR Realty, a firm headed by Cuomo pal Scott Rechler. It attracted more than 170 people, a source familiar with the Cuomo re-election campaign said.
Rechler served as a Cuomo appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.
Related Companies CEO Jeff Blau, whose projects include Hudson Yards, also made an appearance at Cuomo’s first major in-person fundraiser since ending emergency edicts over the coronavirus pandemic.
Equally important for Cuomo was the appearance of some of New York’s most influential labor leaders.
George Gresham, president of the powerful health care workers union — SEIU Local 1199 — introduced Cuomo ahead of his 20 minute speech, a source said.
Other Big Labor attendees included Mario Cilento, president of the NYS AFL-CIO;; Gary LaBarbara, head of the New York Building and Trades Council; SEIU Local 32 BJ president Kyle Bragg; Stuart Appelbaum, head of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, and Dennis Trainor and Robert Masters of the Communication Workers of America, among others.
Also spotted heading into or leaving the fundraiser were public relations maven Ken Sunshine and lobbyist Charlie King, a longtime Cuomo confidante. King ran as Cuomo’s running mate during his failed 2002 bid for governor and served as executive director of Al Sharpton’s National Action Network.
Other lobbyists and lawyers appeared — including Robert Harding and others associated with Greenberg & Traurig. Harding, whose late father, Ray Harding, once headed the state Liberal Party, served as a deputy mayor for Rudy Giuliani.
City Democratic leaders waved the Cuomo flag: attendees included Brooklyn Democratic Party chairwoman and Assemblywoman Rodneyse Bichotte, Manhattan Democratic leader Keith Wright, Staten Island Democratic leader and Assemblyman Michael Cusick, and Queens Democratic Party executive director Michal Reich.
The support for Cuomo clashes with many elected Democrats who called for Cuomo to resign over the sexual harassment claims — among them US Sens. Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand.
State Attorney General Letitia James is conducting an investigation into the sexual harassment allegations current and former staffers leveled against Cuomo as well as accusation that he misused government resources in drafting his $5.1 million memoir about his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
The state Assembly Judiciary Committee also is conducting an impeachment probe of Cuomo over the sexual harassment claims, on whether he withheld information pertaining to the death count of nursing home residents related to COVID-19, as well as the book deal.
The US Justice Department also is also looking at whether the Cuomo administration deliberately withheld accurate data concerning the COVID-19 related deaths of nursing home residents, the book deal and approval of a law granting hospitals and nursing homes immunity from malpractice cases for mistreatment of patients during the pandemic.
Cuomo has denied wrongdoing
Advocates pushing for a “fair wage” for restaurant workers — a minimum wage plus tips — rallied outside the Cuomo event.
“Gov Cuomo, end sexual harassment in restaurants now!,” the protesters chanted.
D.C.-based political consultant Adam Eidinger said he donated to Cuomo’s campaign to give Michael Fuquay, owner of the Jackson Heights restaurant Queensboro, a chance to speak to the governor.
“I got what 30 seconds,” said Fuquay. “I told him we needed his help to help us. He has a platform where he can announce to the whole world that New York is open and we want our restaurant workers back.”
Fuquay quipped that there were “a lot of ear whisperers” inside the fundraiser.
“There was so much whispering going on in the ears. We don’t have that kind of relationship. This was our first time meeting him for both of us so there was no whispering,” he said.
Donors said they were served little pieces of steak, dumplings with truffles and other finger food.
During his speech, Cuomo thanked essential workers’ response to COVID and talked up gun control, marriage equality and the successful fight to raise the minimum wage to $15.
According to Eidinger, Cuomo also slammed socialism and the defund the police movement.
“[Cuomo] attacked them, straight up and said they were living in a fantasy land basically,” he said.
Nursing home advocates whose lost loved ones from COVID were disgusted with Cuomo’s fundraiser.
“Can’t wait to see the donor list to Cuomo’s $10K per person fundraiser tonight. We need to know who supports a mass-murdering sexual predator and everyone else needs to know that also,” VoicesForSeniors said in a tweet.
Cuomo had $16.8 million in his campaign treasury as he eyes a fourth term next year. The amount raised from Tuesday’s fundraiser will appear in a new campaign report due July 15.