On NY1’s New York Times Close Up program this morning, Rick Lazio admitted he’ll probably be outspent “to a significant degree” by Andrew Cuomo, but questioned the propriety of the sitting Attorney General raising money from contributors his office oversees.
“I think that is a serious question for all of us to think about–whether law enforcement officials should be allowed to go out there and raise very large amounts money and whether that clouds or creates an appearance of impropriety,” Lazio told Times reporter Sam Roberts. “I just think that’s a question we need to think through.”
Lazio was on the show to discuss Serge Kovaleski’s story about Cuomo’s fundraising, which reported that the Attorney General has taken millions of dollars from so-called special interests, and that Cuomo has violated his 2007 pledge not to accept contributions over $10,000 from certain groups. Lazio said he’d like to see the upper limit for contributions come down from the current $52,000 cap, but declined to impose any limits on his own contributors. [UPDATE: It should be noted that Kovaleski's story also reports that donors must show they have no business pending before the attorney general's office, and haven't for the past 90 days, according to Cuomo's spokesman.]
“We’re focusing on small donors right now,” Lazio said, touting his push for $29 contributions. “That’s the kind of support we want.”
“But if someone offered you $52,000, you’d take it?” Roberts asked.
“We’d probably take it, yeah,” Lazio conceded with a laugh.
In a January filing, Lazio lagged badly behind Cuomo–with less than $1 million on hand to Cuomo’s $16 million–but the Republican hopeful has said he’s seen an “uptick” in fundraising since then, as some big name Republicans have held fundraisers on his behalf.