At the end of a video promoting Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s immigration policies, a disclaimer noted the advertisement’s funding source: an obscure anti-discrimination group called New Yorkers United Together.
The fledgling group, which has financed only the one online video, claims it has no ties to any politician. Two of the group’s co-founders said in interviews that the governor had nothing to do with the ad, other than agreeing to appear in it alongside several celebrities.
But a closer examination shows otherwise. All of the group’s co-founders are close friends of Cuomo’s. Three celebrities who spoke in the ad said they were asked to do so by Cuomo’s office, and another person said he was asked by the office to identify others who might be willing to participate.
The man hired to film the ad, Jimmy Siegel, has shot political spots for the governor in previous campaigns. And his website’s gallery of work examples seems to make clear where the idea for the video originated.
“Title: We are New York,” the website says. “Client: Andrew Cuomo.”
To government watchdogs, the connections are evidence that Cuomo is again skirting campaign finance rules by using a secretive nonprofit to advance his agenda.
The rules limit donations to political campaigns and require disclosure, and politicians are not supposed to get around them by using organizations that can accept unlimited secret donations. But New Yorkers United Together is the third nonprofit formed by allies of Cuomo’s to emerge and support his policies.
In the latest instance, the video ad praises the governor’s immigration…
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