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New York's new legislative leaders see big jump in campaign donations

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ALBANY, New York — In Albany, it pays to be in charge.

At least that's what is suggested by campaign finance reports showing big jumps in political contributions to the two state lawmakers who took over the top leadership posts this year.

Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie of the Bronx took in nearly $352,000 in receipts in the past six months, about five times more than the $72,000 he raised in the same period in 2014, an election year.

Republican Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan of Long Island reported almost $277,000 in receipts, about 2½ times more than the $115,000 raised a year earlier.

Spokespeople for Heastie and Flanagan did not immediately return calls seeking comment on Thursday.

Heastie was chosen speaker by the Assembly's Democratic majority in early February to replace Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, now facing federal charges that he accepted nearly $4 million in kickbacks. Flanagan was chosen majority leader by the Senate Republicans in early May to replace Sen. Dean Skelos, who is charged with trading his influence in exchange for payments and a job for his son. Silver and Skelos both maintain their innocence and are keeping their legislative seats while they fight the charges.

The new campaign totals come from financial reports filed with state elections officials this week.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo's filing shows he has more than $12.6 million in his campaign account, even though he isn't up for re-election for more than three years.

The Democrat's latest campaign finance filing shows he raised more than $5 million, with nearly $1.4 million coming from limited liability companies. Contributions from LLCs are not subject to the same campaign finance limits imposed on corporations. Groups such as Common Cause and the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University say that loophole allows wealthy donors to wield significant political influence without identifying themselves.

Cuomo hasn't committed to seeking a third term but has said there's nothing else he'd rather do than continue as governor.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman reported raising more than $2 million in campaign donations over the past six months in his filing, which shows a closing balance of almost $2.4 million.

Donations include more than $225,000 from limited liability companies and $100,000 from his stepmother.

Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli raised almost $250,000 over the past six months. The report shows DiNapoli, a Democrat, spent more than $150,000, including six payments to Tucker Green Consulting for fundraising consulting that totaled $51,000.

Cuomo, Schneiderman and DiNapoli were each re-elected last fall to four-year terms.

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