Albany Republican blasts Cuomo over ‘pay to play’ donations

ALBANY — The top Republican on the state Senate Finance Committee wants Attorney General Letitia James to investigate campaign contributions made to Gov. Andrew Cuomo from individuals affiliated with a prominent medical donor network awarded millions in coronavirus-related state contracts that were recently revealed by The Post.

State senator and ranking GOP committee member Tom O’Mara (R-Elmira) sent a letter to James Friday requesting her office “immediately” probe the nearly $230,000 in political contributions made to Cuomo by individuals affiliated with Somos Healthcare Providers.

The nonprofit also received five emergency pandemic contracts with $62 million.

He also wants James to investigate donations made by the gaming industry, after the Wall Street Journal reported industry donors felt pressured to give money to Cuomo in the past or else lose out on business.

“Unfortunately, in state government there are times when those in office engage in ‘pay-to-play’. We have seen and heard countless allegations over recent years and in recent days that the Governor and his administration may have improperly influenced the state contract process and engaged in such schemes,” wrote O’Mara, referring to past public corruption scandals tied to former Cuomo aides and business associates.

State senator Tom O’Mara is pressing Attorney General Letitia James to investigate contributions made from Somos Healthcare Providers donors to the Cuomo administration.
State Sen. Tom O’Mara is pressing Attorney General Letitia James to investigate contributions made from Somos Healthcare Providers donors to the Cuomo administration.
AP Photo/Richard Drew, File

Joe Percoco — the governor’s ex-top campaign aide and close family friend — is currently sitting in federal prison for accepting hundreds of thousands in bribes from real estate developers seeking related to the infamous “Buffalo Billion” corruption case.

“Participating in ‘pay-to-play’ raises serious concerns on behalf of the taxpayers and residents of New York State, not only threatening their trust in government contracts, but in state government as a whole,” he added.

“We believe that the governor’s office has become a toxic environment where there are no rules and no accountability,” he continued.

“As you know, the governor is currently under investigation by your office for multiple harassment and misconduct claims. He is also being investigated for the outrageous cover-up of COVID-19 nursing home deaths, in addition to multiple other inquiries that are being conducted by various agencies at the state and federal levels.”

A spokesperson for James said her office is reviewing the request.

Cuomo spokesman and senior advisor Rich Azzopardi denied O’Mara’s “pay to play” assertion.

“No donation of any size has any influence on a government decision – period – and this is nothing more than a cheap hit — and not even a good one — from a craven politician seeking a headline,” he said.

Huynh Nguyen

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