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Money In Politics:

WNY contributors to Cuomo campaign

Published April 12, 2021

If it seems Gov. Andrew Cuomo is unpopular in Western New York, consider these numbers: Since 2017, Cuomo’s campaign fund has raised more than $38.4 million statewide. Less than $600,000 of that came from Western New York donors — mostly developers, lawyers, and businesspeople. We looked at donations to Andrew Cuomo for New York from Jan. 15, 2017, to Jan. 15 of this year, a cycle that includes his 2018 reelection campaign. We separated out donations from Western New York by ZIP code, bundled together donations from individuals and the corporations they control, and made a list of donors who gave $5,000 or more.

Watch our report that aired on WGRZ.

Cuomo's largest local donors


Donor Industry Amount
The Joseph family/Clover Group Real estate $150,000
Phillips Lytle Law $61,500
Dr. Gregory Daniel Healthcare/real estate $45,000
Samuel Savarino Real estate $40,000
Russell Maxwell Healthcare/call center $35,080
United Auto Workers, Region 9 and 9a Labor union $29,000
International Union of Operating Engineers Local 17 Labor union $25,000
Benathan Upshaw Real estate $25,000
Anthony Masiello Lobbyist $19,500
The Montante family/Uniland Real estate $18,057
Brett Fitzpatrick Real estate $8,333
Aaron Siegel Real estate/debt collection $8,300
Wayne Kicinski Construction $7,500
Norstar Development Real estate $7,000
Dr. Raul Vasquez Healthcare $5,000
Kenneth Manning Law $5,000
M&T Bank and Wilmington Trust PAC Banking $5,000


Talking Points

  • Cuomo raised $38,444,413 statewide during the four years we studied. Western New York donors — 99 individuals and 63 companies, committees or other organizations, gave a total of $576,945.42 — accounting for 1.5 percent of that sum.
  • Big donors dominate the list. Only 2 of 63 corporate entities and 52 of the 99 individual donations donated less than $500. Contributions from small individual donors amounted to $2,969. 
  • The Joseph family led Western New York donors to Cuomo with a whopping $150,000 since 2017. Michael and Roberta Joseph each gave $25,000 personally to Cuomo’s 2018 reelection campaign, then directed another $100,000 through 33 limited liability companies controlled by the Clover Group, the family’s real estate development and management business.
  • Half the donors on the list have a hand in real estate development. Dr. Gregory Daniel runs a healthcare company, but he’s also a big real estate developer, whose latest project is a healthcare and residential complex on Jefferson Avenue.
  • There’s another physician on the list: Dr. Raul Vasquez is the founder and president of Urban Family Practice and Westside Urgent Care in Buffalo. Then there’s Russell Maxwell, whose company provides answering services for medical offices and coordinates transportation for Medicaid patients.
  • Anthony Masiello, the former Buffalo mayor and state senator, is a lobbyist. He gave $8,500 as an individual and $11,000 through his Friends of Anthony Masiello campaign committee, which remains active even though Masiello left office in 2006
  • Only one local law firm, Phillips Lytle, made the list of Cuomo’s largest donors, with $61,500. A partner in the firm, Kenneth Manning, burnished that total with a $5,000 individual donation.
  • Notably absent from the list is Howard Zemsky. Zemsky and his wife have been among Cuomo’s biggest Western New York donors over the years — $152,500 since 2009 — but according to state records he hasn’t made a contribution to Cuomo since 2016, which is just outside the period considered.


Geoff Kelly and Jim Heaney discuss what they found notable in Cuomo’s campaign contributions and weigh in on the governor’s re-election prospects.

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