Rick Lazio Gets the Big Campaign Bucks from JPMorgan

By Nicole Maffeo and Gavin Aronsen

Just how far has Republican Rick Lazio strayed from 270 Park Avenue in his campaign for governor?

That's the address of JPMorgan Chase, where Lazio actively served as managing director until announcing his gubernatorial bid last year. (For details on his performance at JPMorgan, see Wayne Barrett's "Inside Rick Lazio's Biggest Wall Street Deal — The Chummy E-Mails.") Lazio still remains in that position on unpaid leave.

The answer to the question seems to be not very.

A Voice search found that among 36 current and former JPMorgan employees and advisory board members who donated at least $1,000 to his campaign, Lazio received a total of $210,262.89. That figure includes $31,000 from eight current members of the company's 60-person executive committee.

Lazio's most generous JPMorgan donor was Donald H. Layton, a former vice chairman of the company. He donated $35,237.89. Second was Rod Brayman, who has served as a JPMorgan regional adviser. He donated $25,000.

The state Dems' press office has been hitting Lazio for months now over his continuing financial ties to the company, but it hasn't provided any concrete contribution figures.

Jay Jacobs, chairman of the Dems' state committee, did send a letter to JPMorgan executive Peter Scher on August 16. He urged Scher "to pledge not to mount an independent advertising campaign on behalf of Rick Lazio this fall" in light of the Citizens United Supreme Court ruling that nixed funding limits on corporations supporting or opposing candidates. So far, JPMorgan has donated just $2,500 to Lazio's coffers.

Alex Carey, the New York Republicans' communications director, responded to Jacobs's letter the next day with a statement asking if Democratic senators Kirsten Gillibrand and Chuck Schumer would return the money they have received over the years from JPMorgan. It's a bit of a red herring, because big banks traditionally give giant sums to key members of Congress, especially at times when bills like the financial reform legislation passed through the Senate earlier this summer are debated.

The banks are not typically large donors to gubernatorial campaigns, as JPMorgan's comparatively low total to Democratic rival Andrew Cuomo shows. He received a combined $32,000 from three of the 38 Lazio donors, who donated a total of $11,650 to the Republican. No current members of the executive committee gave to Cuomo, but the company itself donated $1,000.


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