Is Gov. Andrew Cuomo playing politics with the impending sale of the Buffalo Bills? Buffalo businessman and Cuomo’s former GOP challenger Carl Paladino suggested he is.

“Cuomo’s been fixing it,” Paladino said. 

Paladino’s remarks followed multiple reports last week that New York City developer and chairman of the New York State Thruway Authority, Howard Milstein, was interested in buying the Bills.  Milstein previously co-owned the New York Islanders from 1998 to 2000 and expressed interest in the Washington Redskins in 1999.

“Of course he’s interested. This is a game that’s being played by Andrew Cuomo to take care of his buddy Milstein,” said Paladino. 

Milstein has ties to Western New York, controlling a large undeveloped area in the city of Niagara Falls, an area the New Stadium Working Group is considering as a new home for the team

In the late 1990’s Milstein was given exclusive rights by the city to prime land downtown.  Twelve years after he unveiled an aggressive plan for private casinos, condos, and retail the 150 acre plot remains vacant

“There was talk about this, about Milstein buying the Bills and building a stadium in Niagara Falls on all this land that he’s illegally held onto for ten years because the idiot elected officials up there in Niagara County let him. They never took some action against him for not doing what he said he was going to do in developing this property,” Paladino said. 

Lieutenant Governor Bob Duffy, the co-chair of the Stadium Working Group, said Friday he thinks Milstein is a good businessman.

“I certainly think he (Milstein) and the Jacobs family and all the names that have been mentioned so far are great names to hear because they’re people that will have connections to Western New York,” said Duffy.

Speaking of the Jacobs Family, Erie County Clerk Chris Jacobs expressed similar skepticism about Milstein.  Jacobs’ uncle Jeremy Jacobs Jr. owns the Boston Bruins and Buffalo-based Delaware North and has said he’s not interested in selling the Bruins to buy the Bills

“There’s been a lot of acquisition over a decade, I think by the Milstein group and not a lot of action so I think they would really have to demonstrate that they’re really going to do more than talk at this point in time. We need action,” Jacobs said.

Duffy didn’t mention Real Estate Mogul Donald Trump’s name specifically.  Paladino has offered his assistance as an investor should Trump make a bid on the team.

Paladino isn’t alone. News broke Monday that Bills Hall of Fame Quarterback Jim Kelly’s attorney met with Trump.  Kelly, who continues to recover from oral cancer, is friendly with the former USFL owner and even stayed at a Trump-owned apartment while undergoing cancer treatment in New York City.

Kelly has made no secret of his interest in being part of an ownership group.  He’s been approached by a number of interested parties about the possibility of joining them in a bid for the Bills.

In addition to names like Trump, Milstein, and even Bon Jovi the Buffalo News reported over the weekend Rochester-Area Billionaire and former Buffalo Sabres Owner Tom Golisano had a private dinner with Bills President Russ Brandon.

This flurry of activity has been connected to new condensed timeline. The Associated Press reported on Saturday there is an anticipation that the Bills could be sold by July, and the sale approved by NFL owners as early as the league’s meetings in October.

Just to add more pressure to the situation U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer told reporters in Buffalo Monday he’d like a plan to either retrofit the current stadium in Orchard Park or build a new stadium in place by the time a new owner is announced.

“Perhaps the best way to get the Bills to stay here, in Western New York, for a generation, is to have some plan for a stadium, in place at the time the Bills are sold,” Schumer said.

Schumer said he spoke with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Monday, and believes the commissioner is “on our side,” and wants the Bills to stay in the area.

No matter who ends up with the team the Cuomo administration is likely to play a key role.  The Governor’s office announced last week it had retained a Manhattan based attorney to provide the state and stadium working group with legal counsel while working to convince any potential owner to keep the team in Buffalo.

It’s a move Paladino believes gives Milstein a clear advantage.

“The state’s paying for it, taking care of Howard. You’ve got to simply connect up the dots. It’s real easy.  He’d be the worst owner we could ever have for the Buffalo Bills. He’s a greedy developer-type out of New York City. Is that the kind of guy you want?”  Paladino asked.