Streams

Cigars, Casinos and Tanning Salons: Legit Campaign Expenses?

Monday, May 12, 2014

Governor Andrew Cuomo during his election-year State of the State address in January. (Judy Sanders - Office of the Governor/flickr)

The committee investigating corruption among New York State lawmakers is no more, but there's new evidence of what it was honing in on when New York Governor Andrew Cuomo chose to disband it.

The governor ended the Moreland Commission last month as part of a budget deal with state lawmakers, prompting an outcry by good government groups and an inquiry by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.

Now, new documents obtained by the news organization City and State offer a glimpse inside the commission's work. Albany Bureau Chief Jon Lentz found that lawmakers, including State Sen. George Maziarz, spent more than $125,000 at retailers like Target and BJ’s Wholesale Club. State Sen. Patrick Gallivan was found to have about $80,000 in unreported campaign credit card expenses, including hundreds of dollars spent on cigars, tanning salons and casinos. But while these types of expenditures look questionable, they might not be illegal. 

“If you can, as a lawmaker, come up with an explanation, you won’t get in trouble,” Lentz said. “Basically the law says you can’t use any campaign money for personal use. The law doesn’t really tell you what personal use is.”

Lentz spoke with WNYC’s Amy Eddings.

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Jon Lentz

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Amy Eddings

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