Thursday June 7, 2012

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) -- Published reports on Wednesday recounted a meeting between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Malaysian gambling interests at an event kept off Cuomo’s public schedule as he pushed to expand gambling.

The Wall Street Journal reports the October meeting of gambling and real estate moguls was at the Westchester home of a property broker.

The newspaper reports Cuomo met with the chairman of Genting, a Malaysian-based casino developer; and the New York Gaming Association, which is a group of race track owners with video slot machine "racinos."

Three months later Cuomo adopted Genting’s plan for a $4 billion convention center and casino at Aqueduct race track, a centerpiece of his State of the State address, as part of Cuomo’s push to approve several more casinos statewide.

The New York Times on Tuesday reported the New York Gaming Association, which includes Genting, donated $2 million in December to the Committee to Save New York, a lobbying group created to support Cuomo and his policies.

The Buffalo News reported Western New York businesses have donated nearly $1 million. The Buffalo Niagara Partnership confirmed that it was a "gatherer" for nearly $1 million in contributions to the Committee to Save New York.

"Sometimes the appearance of impropriety is as important as actual impropriety," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause NY in a statement. "The appearance here, the timing, is very unfortunate. It raises all kinds of questions about whether there was some sort of influence.


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The Community Voices Heard group that has been at odds with some of Cuomo’s fiscal policies renewed its call for an investigation of the relationship between Cuomo and the Committee to Save New York. That request was sent to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, the new board proposed by Cuomo and led by his appointed chairwoman.

The New York Public Interest Research Group has said the committee acts like a "Super PAC," the political action committees in which wealthy, anonymous donors have influenced presidential campaigns. Cuomo has said he supports campaign finance reform to limit the role of money in politics.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the October meeting in Westchester wasn’t on Cuomo’s public schedule, but was added months later after the newspaper asked about it. A Cuomo spokesman called that omission "inadvertent."

There was no immediate comment Wednesday from Cuomo.