Progressive groups rallied in Lower Manhattan Thursday claiming Governor Andrew Cuomo is threatening to cut off their funding. The governor denies the charge which surfaced after Cuomo learned the labor-funded Working Families Party will be endorsing his Democratic primary opponent, actor Cynthia Nixon. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
At a soggy afternoon rally in Lower Manhattan, progressive groups including Citizen Action, Alliance for Quality Education and New York Communities for Change rallied to keep their funding intact.
Last week, sources say, at a private meeting with labor leaders, Governor Cuomo said that any group who supports actor Cynthia Nixon in the Democratic Primary this September can "lose his number."
"Brothers and sisters make no mistake, the threat is real. I was there. But when Cuomo tries to divide us from our friends in organized labor, we say solidarity forever," said Bill Lipton of the Working Families Party.
A few days after the alleged threat, Cuomo lost out on the endorsement of the left-leaning Working Families Party to Nixon. But before that happened, two major unions pulled out of the party - Local 32-BJ and The Communication Workers of America, leaving the WFP with a potentially huge funding gap.
Cuomo was asked if he made any threats about retaliation leading the unions to disassociate with the progressive groups that make up the party.
"I am not going to punish - it has nothing to do with me. Punishment is for God. Who the unions should or should not support, that is up to the unions. Nobody is going to tell them what to do," Cuomo said.
Meantime Nixon, who did not have a public event this week, made an appearance on "The Late show" with Stephen Colbert where she was asked about her last name matching the former Republican president.
"So, I am aware of the dubious nature of my last name, but I'd have to say if given a choice I'd rather be the good Nixon than the bad Cuomo," Nixon said.
Some of the groups do receive line-item funding from the state budget but on their non-political side. Once a group endorses a candidate or a party it is no longer eligible for state funding.