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Cuomo uses billionaire's plane for Sundance trip

Cuomo uses billionaire's plane for Sundance trip

It 'will not be covered by taxpayers nor by campaign funds'
Cuomo uses billionaire's plane for Sundance trip
Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference in New York on Jan. 21, 2018.
Photographer: Andres Kudacki/The New York Times

NEW YORK — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo used the private plane of Barry Rosenstein, the billionaire hedge fund manager, to attend the Sundance Film Festival screening of a documentary by his girlfriend, Sandra Lee, his office said Thursday.

Rosenstein and his wife, Lizanne, are major political contributors who have given Cuomo a combined $186,000 for his three campaigns for governor. Barry Rosenstein also hosted a $25,000-per-person event at his Hamptons home for Cuomo last summer.

Cuomo flew Monday to Park City, Utah, and back to New York in less than 24 hours, according to the schedule released by his office. His office disclosed that Cuomo flew on Rosenstein’s plane after inquiries from The New York Times.

Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo, said the Rosensteins are “longtime friends of Sandra and the governor, with no business before the state.”

“The value of the trip is being tabulated, and as it was not in his official capacity nor related to the campaign, will not be covered by taxpayers nor by campaign funds,” Azzopardi said. Lizanne Rosenstein joined the governor for the trip, he said.

The Rosensteins declined to comment.

Cuomo and Lee, a cookbook author who also has a show on the Food Network, have been together for more than a decade. The film, “RX Early Detection: A Cancer Journey With Sandra Lee” is a short documentary about her 2015 battle with breast cancer.

Cuomo does not frequently travel outside New York but he has occasionally used the private planes of donors. Last September, Cuomo led a delegation to the U.S. Virgin Islands following a hurricane there and used the jet of John Catsimatidis, a billionaire who has donated more than $130,000 to Cuomo.

The trip came shortly after Cuomo had signed biofuels legislation that could benefit one of Catsimatidis’ companies. Azzopardi said there was no record of Catsimatidis lobbying the governor’s office on the bill.

The governor’s office said at the time that the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics had approved the plane use because of the emergency situation in the Virgin Islands.

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