Cuomo Sidesteps Bharara’s Presence
Over the course of his first gaggle with reporters in Albany since October, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked at least multiple times about the appearance of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in the state’s capital city on Monday.
And each time, Cuomo for the most part demurred.
“I went in, I did the event,” Cuomo said when asked about Bharara. “This was a major gathering for law enforcement people — judges, colleagues from all across the state. I think the turnout was magnificent. I think that was an endorsement of the selection.”
There were no plans for both men to meet today at the Capitol.
Both Cuomo and Bharara were literally face to face for the swearing in ceremony of the state’s new chief judge, Janet DiFiore, a former Westchester district attorney nominated by the governor to fill the vacancy created by the retired Jonathan Lippman.
The event of both men being in the room together was highly anticipated: Bharara has prosecuted some of state government’s most high-profile cases, winning convictions of both leaders last year in the Senate and Assembly.
Bharara was in Albany to address the New York Conference of Mayors as well as participate in a forum at WAMC public radio.
Both Cuomo and Bharara were in the packed Court of Appeals chamber — filled to overflow capacity — for the swearing in of DiFiore, which the governor administered.
Bharara at NYCOM didn’t reference either case brought against Sheldon Silver or Dean Skelos, nor did he stop to take questions from reporters at the event.
While Judge Eugene Pigott went through a long list of the VIPs in attendance of the state’s legal world and said Bharara’s name, Cuomo applauded politely and smiled.
During Cuomo’s remarks, Bharara was attentive and polite, smiling for most of the lighter moments.
Asked by reporters later about Bharara’s presence, Cuomo largely shrugged it off.
“How do you feel about him being here?” asked New York Public Radio’s Karen DeWitt?
“In terms of what?” Cuomo responded.
He pivoted to an area of public agreement between Bharara and him: the need for ethics legislation in state government.
“I think his point that we need ethics reform is the same thing that I’ve been saying,” Cuomo said. “We have a very aggressive agenda on ethics reform.”
Bharara’s office continues to investigate the state’s economic development programs in western New York, known as the Buffalo billion. Asked if there were any recent subpoenas issued, Cuomo said he has “heard nothing.”
“I’ve heard nothing,” Cuomo said. “When I say I’ve heard nothing, what does that mean? I’ve heard nothing. That’s what that means. I’ve heard nothing.”
Cuomo insisted he’s pushing for ethics legislation, adding that it’s up to individual New Yorkers to pressure state lawmakers, especially on the issue of limiting what state lawmakers can make outside of their government jobs.
Cuomo wants to cap outside pay of state lawmakers at 15 percent of their base income, which is currently at $79,500.
“I think you don’t really get to this issue until you resolve the fundamental conflict and the fundamental conflict is legislators are allowed to make outside income,” Cuomo said while adding, “Politicians listen to the people. The way they taught us is politicians. I think very often the people lead. I think people get it, but they have to take the next step and communicate with the legislators.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on February 8, 2016 at 3:46 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|