David Paterson's Campaign Money Problems Only Highlight Andrew Cuomo's Good Sense

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If and when the Times breaks its David Paterson story, some of the news is expected to focus on the governor's exploitation of his campaign kitty for personal use. In that spirit, let's consider the opposite: the use of a campaign committee to advance the public interest.

And guess what? It involves the governor's nemesis, Andrew Cuomo.

Cuomo's campaign committee has spent $27,955 renting an office at 120 Broadway, which also happens to be where the attorney general's office is. Eliot Spitzer, when he was AG, spent almost the same amount, $26,200, to rent the same office. Both have used the office as a refuge where they can do political business without compromising in any way the official functions of the state's top lawyer.

Apparently, when Cuomo first met Spitzer after he was elected AG in 2006, they got together in this office, seven flights up from the attorney general's.

Cuomo is known to tell visitors like Bill Thompson, the mayoral candidate he endorsed last year, to meet him on the 32nd floor, where his committee rents space from the law firm of Emmet, Marvin and Martin and pays roughly $500 a month. He has been seen escorting Jennifer Cunningham, the political consultant who was so critical to his election in 2006, from the AG's office upstairs. Cunningham, who is a partner in Knickerbocker SKD, is not yet on the Cuomo campaign payroll but is already unofficially advising him.

When the Voice pressed Cuomo's office about this expenditure on his campaign filing, no one was anxious to discuss it. Neither he nor Spitzer ever trumpeted it as a sign of their clean campaign living. Obviously, since it's illegal to solicit campaign contributions on state property, both AG's have been free to do it in the Emmet office. Cuomo began paying rent on the office in May 2007, shortly after taking office.

Ironically, the firm used to be known as Emmet, Marvin and Roosevelt (when it included FDR), and it depicts itself as "in the vanguard in the development of new finance products," with mortgage-backed securities listed as a practice area. The firm's website announces that it is "intimately involved" in new "derivative products like inverse floaters and auction rate receipts," which have been targets of Cuomo probes.

Paterson is in his second week of explaining what went on in a utility closet in the executive mansion, where the Post reported he was found by a state trooper with a young woman (Paterson denies it), while Cuomo has his own closet of an office, where he makes an attempt to separate politics and the public interest.

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