Etiquette question … is it tacky to give someone a birthday gift paid for by campaign donations, rather than your own vast personal wealth? I ask only because it looks like Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., used money donated to his campaign to buy Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., a present from Tiffany for her 50th birthday last year.
That's considered regifting, right?
The New York Post reported on Thursday that campaign records filed by Cuomo listed an "unspecified gift" purchased for $212. When pressed by the New York Post to explain the charge, Executive Director Basil Smikle revealed the money was used on a Tiffany pen given to Gillibrand for her birthday.
Smikle maintains the purchase was fully compliant with campaign laws which specify, according to the New York Post, that funds must be used for "a political campaign or the holding of a public office or party position."
"We follow all campaign finance laws, which allows for funds to be used in connection with the functions of the office," he reportedly insisted.
That may be true, but Cuomo himself seems to disagree with the ethics of the purchase. In a 2010 booklet he wrote outlining plans for his first term, the governor clearly stated his belief that "campaign contributions should not be used for personal expenditures."
"New York's vague prohibition on the use of campaign funds for personal expenditures has resulted in their use for such noncampaign related expenses as country club memberships, purchases of television sets and personal wardrobe items," he complained at the time.
What an interesting idea.
If birthday gifts from Tiffany aren't considered "personal expenditures," my friends should expect to receive nicer presents than the usual Olive Garden gift cards this year. Tiffany pens all around, it's getting expensed!
Cuomo, by the way, has estimated his net worth to be somewhere around $2 million.
Emily Jashinsky is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.