- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Always be a man of the people; especially if you can game the system to look like one.

At least since Sen. Bernard Sanders turned it into a talking point that the average donation to his 2016 presidential campaign was $27, politicians have touted a small figure as proof they run a grassroots campaign and aren’t the product of a few big donors.

According to a report Tuesday in The New York Times, the campaign of Gov. Andrew Cuomo took it to a new level, taking absurdly small amounts of money from people to make the average donation size smaller.

Some of those donors were dedicated though.

The Times reported that in the run-up to the reporting deadline, donor Christopher Kim contributed 69 times. But 67 of those donations were of $1 each.

Mr. Kim’s ties to the Cuomo team aren’t just the tiny donation. According to the filing documents, he has the same address as Cuomo campaign aide Julia Yang.

“We appreciate his enthusiasm,” campaign spokeswoman Abbey Collins told the Times. “Going forward, we’ll put measures in place to count contributions like this differently.”

But he was not alone. The Times reported that “a line of aides, relatives, roommates, allies, appointees and lobbyists” were shown on the filing documents giving such nominal sums as $1 and $5.

“Other small donors included the father of one of Mr. Cuomo’s spokeswomen (who gave $1), the lobbyist father of Mr. Cuomo’s top aide (who gave $10), as well as others who share addresses with Mr. Cuomo’s paid campaign staff,” the Times wrote.

Not that some such folk eschewed the big donations.

The Times cited the case of Jaynne C. Keyes, whom Mr. Cuomo appointed to the state arts council and whose husband is a former top aide to Mr. Cuomo’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo. According to the Times, she gave the younger Mr. Cuomo a hefty $20,000 on July 9.

“Days later, she followed that up with two more donations — for $5 each,” the Times wrote.

Mathematically, such gifts would increase the number of donations while hardly affecting the amount raised, which would lower the average donation size.

Indeed before the full report was released, the Cuomo campaign had boasted Monday that 57 percent of the raw number of contributions were for $250 or less and the commonest amount was $5.

In a Democratic primary in which he is being challenged from the left by socialist actress Cynthia Nixon, Mr. Cuomo could use some statistics to minimize his status as one of his party’s biggest fundraisers sitting atop a $31 million war chest, most of it, the Times reported, coming from big donors.

According to the Times, the Cuomo campaign raised $6 million in the first half of the year, but just 1 percent of that amount came from people who gave $250 or less.

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