ALBANY, N.Y. – Larry Flynt has always been on the fringe of politics. The Hustler magazine publisher has been a party to Supreme Court decisions about pornography, has exposed infidelities of lawmakers investigating former president Bill Clinton, and has sought access for his reporters to accompany soldiers fighting the war against terror.
Now, Flynt has jumped into new political turf. He's hosting a $2,500-a-plate fundraiser for Andrew Cuomo, the former Housing Secretary who's seeking the Democratic nomination for governor of New York.
The event, to be held in Beverly Hills on Thursday, lists Flynt as a vice chairman, a designation awarded for $10,000 donations. Cuomo's father, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, is the featured speaker.
Flynt's involvement drew fire from one prominent ally of New York Republican Gov. George Pataki.
"I guess it's who you seek out when you're blinded by naked ambition," said state Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno.
Pataki, who is expected to seek re-election to a third term this year, declined comment.
Cuomo campaign manager Josh Isay defended the candidate's fund-raising.
"Just like Andrew Cuomo has a right to fight for a woman's right to choose and to create homeless shelters for battered women, these people have a right to support Andrew Cuomo," Isay said.
"Voters care about cleaning up the system and getting rid of corruption and quid pro quos and that's what Andrew Cuomo is going to do as governor," Isay added.
The Cuomo camp has repeatedly complained about Pataki and Cuomo's rival for the Democratic nomination, state Comptroller H. Carl McCall, taking campaign cash from people who have lucrative business contracts with the state.
The sure to be star-studded event includes such Hollywood moguls as Gail Zappa, widow of late rock musician Frank Zappa, who is also a $10,000 vice chairwoman of the fundraiser. Co-chairmen Jimmy Iovine, chief of Interscope Records, and Hollywood executives Ted Fields and Lew Wasserman have contributed $25,000 each to the event.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, D-N.Y., has also been a recipient of Iovine's generosity. She received a $2,500 donation from him during the 2000 U.S. Senate campaign, earning her the wrath of Republican women's groups who criticized Iovine for recording artists whose lyrics demean women and glorify violence. Iovine also handles artists U2, Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.