By Tom Precious
ALBANY -- A new political committee has begun running an ad downstate using the long-ago words of Mario Cuomo against the plans of his son, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, to expand casino gambling.
The advertisement is being run by the Committee Against Proposition 1, which listed a post office box in the Catskills town of Youngsville on its state board of elections registration form. The committee was not organized before the election agency's recent final filing deadline before November 5; it could not, as a result, be revealed how much the group has raised or spent.
The major anti-casino group, the Coalition Against Gambling in New York, said it is unaware of the group or its activities. Anti-gambling groups have been wondering for months if an out-of-state casino operator might drop a last minute ad in New York to try to block any new casino competition from emerging in New York, though it is unknown how this new organization is funded. Officials with the group could not be immediately reached for comment.
UPDATE: Stephen Shafer, head of Coalition Against Gambling, said the ad is being funded by Catskill Mountainkeeper, a environmental group located in Youngsville. The group appeared with lawmakers today at New York's City Hall to oppose Proposition One.
The ad uses the position of former Gov. Mario Cuomo from a generation ago -- he was against the spread of commercial casinos -- to challenge the position of Andrew Cuomo's proposal on next week's ballot to add up to seven casinos in the state. [State of Politics, a YNN blog, reported that NY1, also a Time Warner channel, will be running the ad from now until election day.]
Release of the ad comes as a pro-casino group began airing two new statewide ads.
UPDATE: Mario Cuomo released a statement tonight distancing himself from the claims in the new ad. "I made those statements in 1994. A great deal has changed in 20 years. The New York that I was dealing with was a different place. We didn't have casinos on every border. Gaming was only in Las Vegas and Atlantic City,'' he said in a written statement.
Mario Cuomo said his statement was made before New York legalized racetrack-based casinos and before casinos came to other states and provinces surrounding New York. "So if you want to vote with Cuomo, vote yes on Proposal One,'' he said.