Feedback: As Moreland Controversy Swirls, Cuomo Campaign Spends
Governor Andrew Cuomo's image needed some help this week - and he got it.
Cuomo's re-election campaign spent more than a quarter of a million dollars on TV advertising across the state in just five days.
The ads came as Cuomo defended himself from charges he interfered with the anti-corruption Moreland Commission. That defense began Monday in Buffalo, the same day positive TV advertising began running across the state.
Cuomo's re-election campaign ordered at least $268,000 worth of TV advertising to run between July 28 and August 1. 7 News arrived at that figure by examining the records of every CBS, NBC and ABC affiliated TV station that reaches New York state.
Cuomo advertised extensively in June, but his campaign had not been on television in July up until this week, according to TV station records available online. He is an overwhelming favorite to win re-election, polls have shown.
The Cuomo ads airing in Watertown have touted the state's financial recovery and praised Cuomo's leadership.
"The watchword among public relations people, the kind of people who are advising the governor right now, is when you're in trouble, squirt ink like a cuttlefish and hope that it camouflages the problem," said Dr. Calvin Exoo, a professor of government at St. Lawrence University.
"And it sounds like that's what the governor's doing now, except instead of squirting ink, he's squirting campaign commercials that make him look good and are an attempt to cover up the problem."
A call and email to the Cuomo campaign Friday morning had not been returned as of mid-afternoon Friday.
The state Democratic party, which has been running advertising attacking Cuomo's Republican challenger, Rob Astorino, spent another $104,000 during roughly the same period.
(Gannett's Albany bureau pointed out Saturday that Democrats have spent about $2 million since January on ads attacking Astorino.)
WWNY received $8,398 from the Cuomo campaign and another $9,987 from the Democratic party.
If anything, our calculations understate how much was spent statewide: we used "net" numbers - the dollar amount of advertising purchased after sales commissions are deducted. We also examined only the records of CBS, ABC and NBC affiliates, where the bulk of political advertising is placed. We did not look at spending on Fox or CW affiliated stations or TV stations with no network affiliation.
Our numbers also do not include what was spent on cable TV, which is not required to report political spending in the same way broadcast TV is.
The amount of money also reflects the size of New York - it has at least 10 areas in which TV advertising must be purchased, in order to get statewide coverage. And because of New York City, it has some of the most expensive advertising in the nation.
Also, Cuomo's campaign has spent significantly larger amounts of money in stretches prior to this week - and prior to the Moreland controversy - though because of the way TV stations report the information, it's difficult to compare spending earlier in the election cycle with this week's.
One example where records are available: WABC in New York received an order for $76,000 worth of advertising this week. Station records show it receiving $201,000 for advertising from June 2 through June 8.
And there is plenty more money for the campaign to spend, if it chooses to do so: in mid-July, the Cuomo campaign reported it had $35 million on hand, compared to $2.4 million for Astorino.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said his office is cooperating with a federal probe into the state's recently shuttered anti-corruption commission, but he will not talk about it.
- reported by Scott Atkinson & John Moore, additional reporting by the Associated Press
Thursday, February 11, 2016, Watertown, NY
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