How Cuomo’s campaign war chest became one of the nation’s largest

Halmar International did not have a state construction contract since 1988.

But that soon changed.

The Nanuet, Rockland County-based construction firm started to donate to Andrew Cuomo’s election campaigns.

It gave $10,000 just prior to Cuomo’s first win in 2010, and $135,000 overall in his eight years in office.

The company has since landed $236 million in state construction projects, plus a multitude of projects through the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, including a 23 percent stake in the massive $1.8 billion Long Island Railroad expansion, state records show.

While Cuomo denies any quid pro quo, similar examples are found throughout state government after he amassed one of the largest campaign funds of any Democratic governor in the nation.

As Cuomo seeks a third term in November, a review of records by the USA TODAY Network’s Albany Bureau found Cuomo’s campaign coffers are filled with donations from companies with business before the state — and regularly made through a massive loophole in state law.

The influence of money on New York politics is important: Taxpayers are often the ones on the hook for contracts and benefits awarded to donors.

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