- New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's business world allies and major donors did not rush to his defense in the wake of a report detailing multiple instances of alleged sexual harassment by the governor.
- Almost all of the donors, allies and advisors contacted by CNBC refused to comment on the allegations levied against the governor.
- "I think it all crumbles," one longtime Cuomo advisor said regarding the governor's support in the business community.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's business world allies and major donors did not rush to his defense in the wake of a report by the state Attorney General's office detailing multiple instances of alleged sexual harassment.
CNBC reached out to many of the governor's top donors and corporate associates after New York Attorney General Letitia James released independent investigators' 165-page report saying that at least 11 women were sexually harassed by Cuomo and that his office was an intimidating environment.
Almost all of the donors, allies and advisors contacted refused to comment either on the allegations levied against the governor or on whether they would continue to associate themselves with him. Democratic Party leaders such as U.S. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, also a New Yorker, called on Cuomo to resign after the report was released.
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"I think it all crumbles," one longtime Cuomo advisor said regarding the governor's support in the business community. This person declined to be named due to the private nature of conversations the person had.
The governor is seeking a fourth term. Cuomo's reelection campaign raised over $2 million in the first half of 2021 from some of New York's business leaders despite all of the controversy surrounding him.
While Cuomo continues to deny many of the accusations, a potential decline in funds and support from some of the state's most affluent donors could be fatal to his reelection chances.
Many of these donors have ties to the heads of the party, including Henry Munoz, the former Democratic National Committee finance chair who gave $25,000 to Cuomo in late January. It was announced in 2020 that Munoz was joining then candidate Joe Biden's presidential campaign. A DNC spokesman and Munoz did not respond to requests for comment.
Biden is expected to address the report against Cuomo on Tuesday after White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the allegations "abhorrent."
"I don't know that anyone could have watched [James' press conference] this morning and not found the allegations to be abhorrent — I know I certainly did," said Psaki.
One Wall Street executive, who was recently on a private call with Cuomo and business leaders about removing the cap on New York's state and local tax deduction, told CNBC in a text message that the report was "not great." Yet this person said "yes" when asked whether the person would continue to support Cuomo after James' report.
This person did not explain why and declined to be named in order to avoid retribution.
Barry Diller, the founder of media behemoth IAC, gave over $22,000 to Cuomo's reelection campaign in January. When asked for comment, a spokeswoman for IAC told CNBC that Diller was "unable to participate in the story."
Dennis Mehiel, a longtime New York businessman who has been close to Cuomo and Biden for years, said hours before this story's publication Tuesday that he "hadn't seen" the report and would review it and then respond. CNBC did not hear back from Mehiel. Mehiel contributed $12,500 to Cuomo's campaign in June.
Susanne Durst, the wife of real estate titan Douglas Durst, gave $10,000 to Cuomo in June. After asking whether Durst would continue to back Cuomo, a spokesman replied: "We don't discuss political contributions."
Others told CNBC they were too busy to talk about the governor and did not respond to follow-up requests for comment.
Billionaire and Gristedes grocery chain founder John Catsimatidis, who contributed $25,000 to Cuomo's campaign in June, previously told CNBC that he wanted to wait to see what investigations revealed before he made his decision on Cuomo.
He said around noon ET on Tuesday that he was at lunch and would return calls afterward. As of the time CNBC published this story, Catsimatidis hadn't responded to requests for comment.
After publication, Catsimatidis declined to condemn the governor, while noting that he doesn't believe it's fair for Cuomo to be put to "trial" in the media. Catsimatidis once ran for mayor of New York City as a Republican.
"Will read all the facts but do not think he should have a trial in the media," Catsimatdis said in a text message to CNBC.
An executive at a New York professional sports team who also has known and worked with the governor for well over a decade said he wanted to see the report first and then call back after he was through with meetings.
This executive did not call back.