The Democratic candidate for governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, has been receiving campaign contributions from a surprising source, state campaign finance records show: Julia and David Koch, the businessman-philanthropist caricatured in a recent New Yorker piece (see our commentary here) as a corporate polluter who has secretly poured tens of millions of dollars into anti-Obama causes.
The contributions from Mr. Koch and his wife Julia to the Cuomo campaign total $74,900, according to the campaign finance records. David Koch made three separate gifts: $25,000 on July 10, 2010; $18,000 on November 16, 2009; and $6,900 on November 30, 2009. Julia Koch made two donations: $15,000 on July 10, 2010, and $10,000 on January 4, 2010.
We asked spokesmen for the Cuomo campaign and for Mr. Koch yesterday morning whether they had any explanation to offer for the contributions. They haven't yet provided one.
We also asked the Koch spokesman what to make of the fact that all five donations list a Wichita, Kansas address for David and Julia Koch. The New Yorker article about the Koch brothers claimed "Charles remained in Wichita" while "David moved to New York City...They live in a nine-thousand-square-foot duplex at 740 Park Avenue." The Wichita address raises the possibility that David and Julia Koch made like Rush Limbaugh and Tom Golisano and moved their legal residence out of New York City in response to the state's tax increases on high income residents, which Mr. Cuomo would be in a position to rescind. The state income tax rate in Kansas maxes out at 6.45%, compared to 8.97% in New York. And Wichita has no city income tax, unlike New York City. Update: The Wichita address is apparently that of the Kochs' bank, and they have not left New York, according to a source familiar with the situation.
Andrew Cuomo's politics and policies aren't historically exactly in line with those of Reason magazine, the George Mason University economics department, the tea party movement, or other ventures that you might think of when you think of the Koch brothers. The Wall Street Journal editorial page has faulted Mr. Cuomo for his Clinton-era tenure at the department of Housing and Urban Development, though as a gubernatorial Mr. Cuomo has reportedly proposed a pay freeze for unionized public employees, and "a 2% cap on local property taxes and a ceiling on state spending that would be tied to inflation," ideas more in line with the free-market, limited-government ideology espoused by the Koch brothers.
We will pass along any response from the Cuomo campaign or David and Julia Koch that we receive.