A NYPIRG report released today on the top 170 campaign contributors (giving $50,000 or more) of 2013 found Gov. Andrew Cuomo was the biggest beneficiary of the state’s current lax contribution laws, receiving – either directly or indirectly – some 40 percent of the $28 million dumped into campaign coffers by rich donors.

The cash given by this small percentage of rich individual, businesses and labor unions represented more than half – 51.41 percent – of all the money donated by New York’s 19.7 million residents last year.

Most of the mega-donors took advantage of various loopholes in the state’s campaign finance system. For example, James Simons, number one on this list, was legally allowed to give $1 million to the state Democratic Committee’s Housekeeping account, which has no contribution limits. Number two, Leonard Litwin, made donations from 21 different limited liability companies, which are treated like individuals when it comes to contribution limits.

According to NYPIRG, donations to Cuomo’s campaign and to the state Democratic Party, which spent millions running pro-Cuomo TV ads, accounted for 40 percent of the mega-donor total.

NYPIRG and other good government groups are pushing the governor to stick to his guns on campaign finance reform – especially creation of a publicly funded system – during the budget negotiations. Cuomo included public campaign financing in his budget proposal. Cuomo has repeatedly talked about the importance of getting the big money out of politics, but he has so far failed to expend much of his considerable political capital to get that done.

In the meantime, the governor has been raising campaign cash hand over fist, amassing more than $33 million at last count (in mid-January).

The Senate’s one-house budget featured some very vague language on taking a look at a public system, but most members have made it clear they have no intention of voting “yes” on anything that is funded with taxpayer dollars.

NYPIRG's list of top donors, recipients in 2013. by liz_benjamin6490