- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 26, 2018

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo didn’t break any New York laws by having signs with his name handed out from a state vehicle during Manhattan’s gay pride parade, the Democrat’s office said Tuesday as his political opponents accused him of using government resources for his re-election campaign.

Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi said the governor’s re-election campaign paid for the rainbow-themed signs touting Cuomo’s support of the LGBTQ community with his last name, a heart symbol and “NY Stands with the LGBTQ Community.” The word “re-elect” wasn’t on the placards, which were labeled with “Paid For By Cuomo 2018,” Azzopardi said.

He said distributing campaign-bought signs is permitted when elected officials are performing public duties at events such as a parade. That appears to be supported by a section of the state election law that states a public officeholder can’t be prohibited “from using campaign contributions to facilitate, support, or otherwise assist in the execution or performance of the duties of his or her public office.”

Cuomo, who marched in the parade, “was there in his official capacity as governor,” along with various other New York City officials, Azzopardi said in an email.

The New York Post first reported the placards were distributed during Sunday’s march. A photo with the story shows a man in a state transportation department truck handing a stack of signs to a woman.

State vehicles often participate in parades and similar Cuomo signs were distributed at the last seven pride marches, Azzopardi said. During last year’s parade, some marchers carried placards that read, “LBGT for CUOMO“.

David Grandeau, former head of a now-defunct state commission on lobbying, told the Post that Cuomo violated the state’s Public Officers Law by using a public vehicle to distribute the signs. A spokesman for the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics said he couldn’t comment on a specific matter and referred questions to the governor’s office.

The major party candidates looking to keep Cuomo from winning a third term said the parade signs are the latest example of the governor using government resources in his re-election campaign.

Lauren Hitt, spokeswoman for Cynthia Nixon, the actress and activist challenging Cuomo in September’s Democratic primary, said the governor and his administration “have shown zero hesitation about using public resources for political gain.”

Katy Delgado, spokeswoman for Republican candidate for governor Marc Molinaro, said: “It’s breathtaking to see just how much Mr. Cuomo believes that the laws the rest of us have to follow don’t apply to him.”

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