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Gov. Andrew Cuomo Defends Role At Democratic Fundraiser

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks - Albany, NY - Oct 17, 2011 (credit: Governor's Office)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks – Albany, NY – Oct 17, 2011 (credit: Governor’s Office)

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP)Gov. Andrew Cuomo participated in a closed-door fundraiser Friday for the Democratic Governors Association, where his appearance fetched a reported $50,000 a seat for the organization.

When he emerged, he repeated to reporters the need to take the influence of big donors out of politics.

“One of the things we have to work on is getting money out of politics,” Cuomo said after appearing on a panel about infrastructure for business operators and others who paid to attend the national group’s Manhattan event.

The New York Times reported earlier this week that donors could pay $50,000 to attend the private briefing, where Cuomo said he discussed his plan to authorize billions of dollars in infrastructure repair in New York. In that story, Cuomo’s spokesman, Josh Vlasto, said the fundraiser was planned well before Cuomo announced the infrastructure proposal now before the Legislature.

A spokesman for the governors association didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Cuomo told reporters after that he didn’t know how much, if anything, people paid to attend his talk. But he said he assumes the association was following campaign finance rules and there was nothing wrong with his private meeting with donors.

“I and other governors and elected officials are in rooms with people doing business with government all day long,” Cuomo said. “That’s why we have ethics laws and codes of conduct.”

He responded to one reporter: “Your issue of, ‘You are in a room where people contribute money’ — that is the current state of politics and that is (the case for) every elected official in every fundraising forum.”

Taking big contributions out of politics was a major campaign promise in 2010.

“Current election law amplifies the voices of wealthy individuals and special interests,” stated Cuomo’s campaign book in 2010. “We too often see individuals that do business with the state use contributions to leverage private gain.”

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