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Watchdogs call for investigation into whether Cuomo is paying adviser with campaign funds

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Watchdog groups filed a complaint Thursday against a top aide to former Gov. Andrew Cuomo, alleging he is currently paying the adviser with campaign dollars, in violation of state election law.

The complaint, led by Common Cause New York and joined by government accountability group Reinvent Albany and two others, asked the New York State Board of Elections to investigate whether Richard Azzopardi is being unlawfully paid a salary from Cuomo's $18 million election fund following a report that Cuomo hired him for help in the aftermath of his resignation.

State law provides that campaign dollars "shall not be converted by any person to a personal use which is unrelated to a political campaign or the holding of a public office or party position," the complainants note.

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Since departing office on Aug. 24, Cuomo hired Azzopardi using the sizable leftover campaign fund, according to a Politico report.

"This raises questions about the appropriate use of his campaign fund," the complaint said, asking elections board Chief Enforcement Counsel Michael Johnson to "investigate and take appropriate enforcement action."

The Washington Examiner reached out to the elections board for comment.

Azzopardi played a critical role in the governor's response to the fallout after Attorney General Letitia James released a scathing Aug. 3 report stating the then-governor sexually harassed at least 11 women. Azzopardi wrote an op-ed on Aug. 20 saying Cuomo had been "railroaded" and implicated the "socialist wing of the Democratic Party" in the effort to boot Cuomo from office.

The senior Cuomo official also attacked James's investigation before the release of the findings, intimating the attorney general's motives were political in nature. After a July story citing anonymous sources reported on investigators' plan to question Cuomo, Azzopardi decried "continued leaks" from the investigation and said they "are more evidence of the transparent political motivation of the attorney general's review.”

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Cuomo left office last month, caving to pressure to resign despite his repeated denials of any wrongdoing. An aide said before his exit that Cuomo has no plans to run for future office, though he indicated he will continue to defend his reputation in his post-governorship, railing against James's "unjust" report in his farewell address to the state.

The Thursday complaint is the second major development in Cuomo-related legal stories this week. James has issued at least one subpoena as part of a separate investigation into the alleged improper use of state resources to promote Cuomo's book on leadership during the coronavirus pandemic, the Times Union reported Wednesday. Cuomo insisted staffers volunteered to help with the book, though his office acknowledged there may have been "incidental" use of state resources.

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Tags: News, Andrew Cuomo, New York, Campaign Finance, Law, Campaigns

Original Author: Jeremy Beaman

Original Location: Watchdogs call for investigation into whether Cuomo is paying adviser with campaign funds

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