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Posts by Liz Benjamin
Sep 25th - 6:14 pm
The total audience for the first general election presidential debate at Hofstra University tomorrow could be as high as 100 million viewers — Super Bowl territory. That would surpass the 80 million who watched Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan in 1980, the record for a presidential debate, and rank among TV benchmarks like the finales of “MASH” and “Cheers.”
Gennifer Flowers, the former model who had an extramarital affair with Bill Clinton in the 1980s, says she’ll accept an invitation from Donald Trump to sit in the front row of Monday’s presidential debate, according to an assistant.
The New York Times endorsed Clinton, saying its decision to back her for president “is rooted in respect
for her intellect, experience and courage.” The paper also did acknowledge Clinton “has evinced a lamentable penchant for secrecy and made a poor decision to rely on a private email server while at the State Department.”
The editorial board made a single brief but pointed mention of the GOP candidate as the “worst nominee put forward by a major party in modern American history” before declaring that “the best case for Hillary Clinton cannot be, and is not, that she isn’t Donald Trump.”
Philippe Reines, a longtime Clinton aide who insiders say has made it his mission to know all the Democratic candidate’s weaknesses, is reportedly role-playing Trump in her debate prep.
At the request of the city’s mayor, Clinton postponed her hastily planned visit to Charlotte, NC that was scheduled for Sunday.
In dedicating the National Museum of African American History and Culture, President Obama said the story of black Americans is the story of the nation’s essential greatness.
There is a sense in some quarters that Cuomo, while undeniably damaged and even personally pained by the accusations against friends and associates, has, by comparison, dodged the worst of it. At least for now.
So how could Cuomo not know about the several schemes that Bharara outlined? Two possible answers arise. First, he has a penchant for reliance on a very small circle of trusted advisers. Second, he also has a penchant for getting things done, and as a result sometimes due diligence doesn’t get done.
Madison Square Garden boss James Dolan is sticking by Senior Vice President Joseph Percoco, one of the nine charged by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but insiders expect he will be cut loose with a buyout or severance package eventually.
Opponents of a gas-fired power plant near Wawayanda say the recent indictment of the governor’s top aide confirms their concerns about the project.
The Buffalo Billion is now squarely in the hands of Howard Zemsky and Empire State Development. Zemsky said he hopes to build “more of an integrated, collaborative and communicative relationship” with officials at SUNY Polytechnic, which under Kaloyeros played a leading role in state-backed technology developments across the state.
Here’s a look at who received political donations over the last 10 years by COR Development partners and family members, according to New York state records. (The list does not include donations to federal politicians).
LPCiminelli, whose roots trace back to the founding of the Frank L. Ciminelli Construction Co. in 1961, is one of the largest general contractors in Western New York, with a long history of work on major public- and private-sector projects.
An unpopular portion of the specialized high school entry exam for some of NYC’s most competitive schools – “scrambled paragraphs” – is being removed and replaced with multiple choice questions intended to evaluate writing skills.
A plan to alter passenger limits at Westchester County Airport has run into a roadblock, with lawmakers questioning the impact on nearby towns and a chief critic accusing County Executive Rob Astorino of playing politics to satisfy airlines eager to expand.
Hattie’s Restaurant in Saratoga Springs was included on Food & Wine’s list of the “Best Fried Chicken in the U.S.” and on MSN.com’s “America’s 50 Best Fried Chicken Spots.”
Sep 23rd - 5:05 pm
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz endorsed Donald Trump for the presidency, a stunning turn of events after a contentious primary filled with nasty personal attacks and a dramatic snub at the Republican National Convention.
Top members of the state Senate Republican Majority and Democratic Minority predicted the latest state government scandal won’t affect the battle for the control of the Senate, though the drumbeat of reform won’t die down through Election Day.
The attorney for two Cor Development executives charged in an alleged bribery and bid-rigging scheme said the case is based on lies by Todd Howe, the government’s main witness against them.
As expected, President Obama vetoed legislation that would allow families of 9/11 victims to sue Saudi Arabia in U.S courts, setting up a high-stakes showdown with Congress.
Trump Hotel Collection agreed to pay $50,000 in fines and strengthen security measures after data breaches exposed more than 70,000 credit-card numbers and other personal information, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
With just days until the first presidential debate, Democrats Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine lead Republicans Donald Trump and Mike Pence by 7 points among likely voters nationally including those who are undecided yet leaning toward a candidate, a new Marist poll found.
Clinton will travel to Charlotte, North Carolina, on Sunday in the wake of a fatal police shooting of an African-American man that has sparked protests in the city.
The special commission charged with proposing pay raises for state lawmakers appeared yesterday to be headed toward potential deadlock.
Former Gov. David Paterson agreed to pay a $25,000 fine to the SEC in connection with a failed project to build the largest movie studio in North America at a suburban location outside Savannah, Georgia.
A special election to fill the legislative seat of the late Nassau County Legislator Judy Jacobs of Woodbury will be held on Election Day, Nov. 8, County Executive Edward Mangano announced.
An organization calling itself ImpeachCuomo.net dropped off a complimentary tray of ziti with red sauce and cheese at the LCA.
The NY GOP is having fun capitalizing on the Cuomo administration scandal.
AG Eric Schneiderman opposes two bills critics say would weaken the landmark I-STOP law that makes it difficult to obtain multiple opioid prescriptions and makes it easier for authorities to investigate the misuse of the highly addictive painkillers.
Officials in Madison County are urging Cuomo to sign a law that would allow the state to share gaming revenue from the Yellow Brick Road Casino with the county.
Airlines are pressing once again to weaken the pilot experience requirements imposed after the crash of Continental Connection Flight 3047 in Clarence in 2009, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is once again pressing back against the airlines.
Twenty-two percent of public school teachers and administrators in New York school districts outside New York City – including about half in the city’s suburbs – were paid more than $100,000 during the 2015-16 school year, according to data added today to The Empire Center’s transparency website SeeThroughNY.
David Howard King is leaving the Gotham Gazette to become the first editor of The Alt – the Capital Region’s new weekly publication.
Sep 23rd - 3:45 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, making his first public comments since U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s bombshell yesterday charging nine men with ties to the governor with corruption in connection to upstate economic development projects, insisted he had “no idea” about anything untoward taking place in his administration.
“I had no idea about anything that was contained in that complaint,” the governor insisted to reporters. “…These were secondary and tertiary level situations. I was not aware of who some of these people were representing, and who were their business consultants. And to the extent the situations that are laid out in the complaint were breathtaking to me when I read them.”
Cuomo seemed to be of two minds about Alain Kaloyeros, who is facing both state and federal charges alleging that he engaged in bid rigging on contracts worth millions of dollars of taxpayer money and has been suspended without pay from his post as president of SUNY Poly.
Cuomo noted that Kaloyeros had worked for five different governors since starting with SUNY in the 1980s, directing the investment of “billions” of dollars in state money into nanotech, and turning around Albany in the process.
” Mr. Kaloyeros has had a 20 year long career in state government.” the governor said. “He also has done a lot of good for New York State.”
As for Joe Percoco, whom Cuomo called a “a long-time friend of mine, a long-time friend of my family,” the governor reiterated: “I know him about 25 years; my father knows him since he was 19 years old. I said my father would be heartbroken if he read that complaint.”
Cuomo seemed to try to distance himself from this mess by saying that it was SUNY, not his administration, that was responsible for letting the contracts in question using its own procurement process, which is different from the process the rest of state government uses. He announced that the responsibility for letting future contracts would be given to the Empire State Development Corp., run by Buffalo resident Howard Zemsky, which will develop its own procurement process.
The governor also rejected the idea that the RiverBend project – the keystone of the Buffalo Billion – has been “tainted” by this scandal.
“It’s tainted quote unquote; I don’t know what that means in this context,” the governor said, clearly annoyed by the question. “The building is going up. The company is moving in. The jobs are being produced. There’s an allegation that the company may have done something wrong that developed it. Fine. It will go to the courts, there will be a process, there will be a trial and if they did something wrong they will be punished.”
Cuomo also said that these allegedly rigged contracts were “the exception to the rule,” noting the state lets hundreds – if not thousands – of contracts every year without incident or illegal behavior.
“We’re talking about nine charges, which is serious, but they are nine charges; so let’s keep it in focus,” the governor said.
Sep 23rd - 1:34 pm
Former Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, who has been outspoken in his opposition to a gas power plant under construction in Orange County, says the project should be scrapped altogether in the wake of the corruption charges brought by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, which showed the company behind it, Competitive Power Ventures, allegedly bribed a former top aide to the governor, Joe Percoco, seeking favorable treatment from the administration.
Kucinich has previously called for the $900 million plant in Wawayanda to at least be put on hold while a detailed investigation into the permitting process for the CPV Valley Energy Center that allowed the project to move forward, in light of reports that it was being looked at by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara as part of a wider probe into the administration’s upstate economic development efforts.
But now that charges have been formally lodged against Percoco (AKA “Herb”) and CPV executive Peter Galbraith (AKA “Braith”), Kucinich said he believes there’s more than enough evidence that the “whole endeavor is corrupt and ought to be stopped.”
“The whole permitting process was corrupted by payoffs, Kucinich said in a brief telephone interview yesterday. (The former congressman reached out via email shortly after Bharara’s press conference). It’s kind of like fruit from the poisoned tree. Why the heck should that thing be allowed to move forward if it was permitted by corrupt means?”
Kucinich said he believes the governor’s “credibility is on the line,” adding: “He can just shut it down, and let (Bharara’s charges) be the mitigating factor.”
“If you build a fence without permission, the city can make you take it down,” Kucinich explained. “If the permit for this was granted through subterfuge, then it should be cancelled. Nobody’s going to fight it in a court of law. This plant wasn’t allowed, it was bought.”
Of course, Bharara’s case has not yet been proven in a court of law, though one of the 10 men charged – former lobbyist Todd Howe, who did work for CPV – has already pleaded guilty for his role in the bribery scheme that involved paying tens of thousands of dollars to Percoco through the former gubernatorial aide’s wife.
The 650-megawatt CPV plant in Orange County has already received a series of approvals from the Cuomo administration over the years, and is viewed by officials as key if the governor is to realize his long-term goal of shutting down the Indian Point nuclear power plant in Westchester County and replacing the energy it generates with other sources.
CPV has spent more than $140,000 lobbying the Cuomo administration and lawmakers in recent years. Also, the company, along with a host of connected LLCs, also donated at least $80,000 to the governor’s campaign committee.
Though other elected officials have begun to announce that they’ll return campaign cash received from individuals and/or entities involved in this corruption case, Cuomo has yet to do so. A Cuomo spokesman yesterday did not respond to a question as to what the governor plans to do with that money.
UPDATE: The Cuomo administration rightfully notes that it severed communications with CPV this past spring when allegations of potential wrongdoing first arose. AT the time, Cuomo’s counsel, Alphonso David, sent letters to the heads of the PSC, the DEC and NYPA ordering they “immediately suspend or discontinue all communications with CPV or CPV Valley.”
That order ended any activities in support of regulatory approvals, regulatory proceedings and any other discussions with CPV – including lobbying. Most of the approvals the plant needed were already in place, though NYPA had not yet approved a vital interconnection and also refused to grant a long-term contract to buy the power it would be generating.
Kucinich, it should be noted, is asking the Cuomo administration scrap this plant altogether – basically rescind all approvals and tank the whole project. At this point, the plug has not yet officially been pulled, though from the state’s point of view, the project is on life support.
Sep 23rd - 5:11 am
Gov. Andrew Cuomo will be in Erie County today – in Buffalo, specifically, home to the economic development project that was the focus of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation, which resulted in corruption charges lodged against nine men with connections to the governor, including Joe Percoco, Cuomo’s former top aide.
Cuomo will be making an announcement at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, 1285 Elmwood Ave., at 1 p.m.
However, the big moment will come after the formal part of his event, when the governor faces members of the press for the first time since the dual press conferences yesterday by Bharara and state AG Eric Schneiderman, who announced another set of charges against one of the men accused by the U.S. attorney, former SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros, along with Capital Region developer Joseph Nicolla.
Both Bharara and Schneiderman said the governor himself does not have any exposure in their respective investigations…yet.
But as the Empire Center’s E.J. McMahon writes in the NY Post this morning: “(M)ake no mistake: the cloud of corruption now surrounding billions of dollars in state economic development investments is an outgrowth of Cuomo’s highly secretive and centralized management style.”
To put it less delicately, fish rots from the head.
The governor may not be formally charged with anything – not this week, and perhaps not ever – but he did establish a culture and preside over an administration in which that sort of behavior that the U.S. attorney and AG allege occurred was possible.
Bob McCarthy notes that the Buffalo Billion was not only Cuomo’s signature upstate economic development program, but also a potential vehicle for him to ride to higher office, arguing that he is capable of restoring struggling Rust Belt cities to their former glory.
But, as political operative Michael Caputo, (who worked for GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump and Cuomo’s 2010 GOP opponent Carl Paladino), put it: “They may not bring down the king, but they will bring down his court. And this makes him unelectable.”
Tom Precious writes: “Bharara’s case alleges bribery, extortion and tax evasion. It also muddies a picture of ethical cleanliness that Cuomo has sought to portray of his administration since taking office in 2011.”
The criminal charges against three top executives at construction company LPCiminelli as part of Bharara’s case could dent the prominent company somewhat in the short term while the news is absorbed, but shouldn’t affect it in the future because of the firm’s solid work and charitable reputation, WNY real estate professionals said.
Todd Howe, a Troy native, lobbyist and wheeler-dealer with a shaky past and vast political connections in Albany and Washington, pleaded guilty to eight felony charges, including bribery, extortion, wire fraud and five years of tax evasion. He has been cooperating with the feds since June.
Almost immediately after Howe took his guilty plea in New York City, defense attorneys for Buffalo developer Louis Ciminelli began an intense investigation into his background, including his business dealings, a past bankruptcy and a previous criminal case where he also pleaded guilty.
Kaloyeros’ attorney, Michael Miller, says his client “has always sought to make sure the right company was doing the right job on the right project. He committed no crimes along the way.”
Percoco’s wife, Lisa Toscano-Percoco, and the governor’s former director of state operations, Howard Glaser, both feature prominently in the feds’ latest corruption case — even though neither has been charged.
Parts of the 80-page federal complaint unsealed yesterday read like a James Bond novel – with code names (“Herb” for Percoco, “Dr. K” for Kaloyeros) and code words (“ziti” – a term allegedly caged from the hit HBO show “The Sporano” for the bribes Percoco took).
The charges mark the second major inquiry of the Cuomo administration by Bharara. Eight months ago, after investigating Cuomo’s handling of an anticorruption panel that he had created and abruptly shut down, the U.S. attorney said there was “insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime.”
For Kaloyeros, the rewards he sought beyond money in this bid rigging scheme appeared to be power, prestige and, perhaps most of all, the fulfillment of a long-held dream: reinventing upstate New York as a Rust Belt Silicon Valley.
Adam Cohen, special agent in charge of the Buffalo office of the FBI, said careless email exchanges provided ample evidence for the criminal complaint related to the Buffalo Billion probe.
Also among those charges were two executives with COR Development, a Fayetteville-based development company that has been awarded lucrative state contracts and is among the governor’s top donors.
Assemblyman Al Stirpe became the second elected official to reject campaign donations he received from executives of COR Development Co. after Bharara’s press conference. (The first was Rep. John Katko).
In other news…
Sep 22nd - 6:08 pm
Ken Lovett: “In 2010, as he stood in front of the Tweed Courthouse announcing his run for governor, Andrew Cuomo declared ‘enough is enough’ while promising to clean up Albany once and for all. He has failed.”
Louis P. Ciminelli, wearing a Park City, Utah, Harley Davidson T-shirt, jeans and flip-flops appeared in court to face allegations of bid rigging and bribery. He and two other Ciminelli executives who are charged in the case – Michael Laipple and Kevin Schuler all pleaded not guilty.
Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney said she was “surprised” to hear news of indictments against top COR officials, who are accused of bribing former top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco.
Rep. John Katko’s office says the Republican Congressman will be returning contributions sent to his campaign by one of the COR Development executives currently facing corruption charges.
Albany’s corruption timeline: 12 major scandals over the past three decades.
NYPD Special Victims and the Manhattan District Attorney’s office are reportedly “looking into” the latest allegations against former Rep. Anthony Weiner, though Manhattan D.A. Cyrus Vance declined comment on the matter.
Prosecutors in the office of US Attorney Preet Bharara have issued a subpoena for Weiner’s cell phone and other records, according to law enforcement officials.
A spokeswoman for the US attorney in North Carolina, Jill Westmoreland Rose, tells NY1 she is “reviewing all materials relevant to the matter,” regarding sexts that Weiner exchanged with a 15-year-old girl who lives in that state.
The wife of Ahmad Khan Rahami, the man charged with detonating bombs in New York and New Jersey, has returned to the U.S. days after she voluntarily went to federal agents in the United Arab Emirates and gave them a statement, law-enforcement officials said.
Hillary Clinton chatted with Zach Galifianakis on “Between Two Ferns,” and received at least one rave review.
Progressive groups and labor unions are assembling a list of vetted candidates for top posts in a potential Clinton administration, vowing at the same time to block any they consider too close to industry or Wall Street.
The maker of Suboxone, a blockbuster drug that helps people control their opioid addiction, engaged in anti-competitive business practices, coercing patients to use an oral strip because the tablets were set to face generic competition, according to a federal lawsuit filed by AG Eric Schneiderman and 35 other attorneys general.
Ex-NYC mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said she’s “not closing the door on running for office again,” as she recalled the crushing 2013 defeat that left her feeling she “had so profoundly let everyone down.”
NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio referred to the NY Post as a “propaganda rag,” apparently miffed by its coverage of his Brooklyn YMCA habit.
Yahoo, in the midst of getting acquired by Verizon for $4.8 billion, was hacked and experienced a major data breech that exposed several hundred million user accounts.
New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer laid out a handful of policy proposals in an ABNY address, criticizing Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to expand affordable housing and offering a competing agenda for the city that could serve as a prelude to a mayoral run in 2017.
The Adirondack Park Agency has scheduled tentative dates for hearings on the controversial classification of Boreas Ponds.
The U.S. Navy has selected Saab Defense and Security in DeWitt for a $38 million contract to provide the next generation of air traffic control radars for aircraft carriers and amphibious ships, the company said.
Sep 22nd - 3:33 pm
Less than two hours after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara wrapped up his press conference detailing a complex public corruption case against nine individuals, including now-former SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros, state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman followed suit, revealing the outcome of his own – related, but independent – investigation.
The result of that probe, which, like Bharara’s, is still ongoing, was more charges for Kaloyeros, who, according to the AG, engaged in bid rigging to benefit Albany developer Joseph Nicolla, president of Columbia Development.
Schneiderman said Kaloyeros, who was once the state’s highest compensated public employee but has been suspended without pay by SUNY, and Nicolla colluded to benefit each other, the former even going so far as to provide details of a competitor’s solicitation for a lucrative state contract to the later to give him a leg up on the process six months before an RFP was officially issued.
Kaloyeros also allegedly awarded another lucrative contract to a firm that agreed to provide a nonprofit he controlled with a $50 million loan along with a $3 million research grant to SUNY Poly, the AG said, and engaged in a “collusive” agreement with an architectural firm that served to increase his own annual compensation.
Schneiderman called the actions by Kaloyeros “stupid” and “brazen” accusing them of “acting in an unrestrained way to enrich themselves.”
Kaloeryos is facing three felony counts of restraint of trade and competition and is scheduled to arraigned in Albany City Court tomorrow. Nicolla faces one count, and is scheduled to be arraigned in the same court on Monday.
If convicted on all charges, Kaloyeros faces a maximum sentence of 4 to 12 years in prison, while Nicolla faces 1.3 to 4 years in prison.
Schneiderman said he exercised the anti-trust powers afforded to him under the Donnelly Act. He said more individuals could be charged in the future, but stressed – when asked – that “there are no charges today that related in any way to” Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Note the careful placement of “today” in that sentence by Schneiderman, who succeeded Cuomo in the AG’s office, and hasn’t always seen eye-to-eye with the governor, who even tried on his way out the door to take Martin Act power and give it to the newly created Department of Financial Services superintendent – a job created for his onetime top aide, Ben Lawsky.
You can read the AG’s complaint against Kaloyeros and Nicolla below.
Sep 22nd - 1:46 pm
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara this afternoon outlined what he called a “network” of wrongdoers – both inside and out of state government – involved in two complex public corruption schemes that involved individuals close to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, including his former top aide, Joe Percoco.
Unlike in past press conferences, Bharara was careful not to go overboard in his excoriation of Albany. (He has been admonished by a judge in the past for saying too much, too soon).
He repeatedly stressed that the charges in the complaint unsealed this morning are “allegations,” though he also said that he hopes the eight remaining defendants – Todd Howe has already pleaded guilty, and is cooperating with investigators – end up going to trial, so New Yorkers “can see in gory detail what their state government has been up to.”
Bharara said the complaint outlines what he believes is a “systemic problem” in Albany – and he was also quick to note that when he uses the term “Albany,” he means the state government that is located there, and not the city itself, which he called a “wonderful town,” as Mayor Kathy Sheehan has told him “multiple times.”
Bharara was asked if Cuomo himself has any involvement in the case by a reporter who noted that he had once issued a statement absolving the governor of wrongdoing in connection with the early demise of the corruption-busting Moreland Commission. His reply:
“What I can say at this moment is that there are no allegations of any wrongdoing or misconduct by the governor anywhere in this complaint. That’s all I’m going to say.”
When pressed on whether it’s “realistic” to believe that the governor, who has a reputation of being something of a micromanager, did not know what his top aide was up to, Bharara said simply: “It’s not my job to comment on what is realistic or unrealistic.”
Bharara also said that this investigation, “as a general matter,” remains open.
The U.S. attorney was also asked if he believes that the corruption problem in Albany is getting better as a result of all the cases he has brought in recent years – including the successful prosecution of two men who were once among the state’s most powerful political players, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.
“I presume some people have gotten the message and abstained from engaging in criminal activity,” Bharara said. “But we’re as busy as we ever were, in some ways busier…if that’s the metric you use then the assessment is not a positive one.”
Sep 22nd - 1:36 pm
SUNY Chairman H. Carl McCall and SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher confirmed the announcement made by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in HIS statement that SUNY Poly President Alain Kaloyeros has been suspended without pay in light of the charges brought against him by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office.
“It is imperative that any charges brought against SUNY Poly President Alain E. Kaloyeros today do not distract from the educational mission, ground-breaking research, and academic operation of SUNY Polytechnic Institute or negatively impact the thousands of students, faculty, researchers, and staff that the campus serves,” McCall and Zimpher said.
“Effective immediately and until this matter is resolved, Dr. Kaloyeros has been suspended without pay. SUNY will review the charges against Dr. Kaloyeros and cooperate fully with prosecutors on any further action as state and federal investigations continue.”
“In order to ensure a seamless leadership transition for the entire campus community, we are directing executive staff at SUNY System Administration, under the leadership of Provost and Executive Vice Chancellor Alexander N. Cartwright, to collectively serve in an officer-in-charge capacity for the campus until an individual can be appointed.”
Sep 22nd - 1:14 pm
Gov. Andrew Cuomo just released a statement in response to the public corruption charges brought by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara against a number of individuals with close ties to his administration, including his former top aide, Joe Percoco, whom he once described as like a third son to his late father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo.
In the statement, Cuomo does not mention Percoco by name. He severed ties with Percoco, known alternately as the governor’s muscle and right-hand man – perhaps closer to him than anyone else, and someone who followed him from job to job – when allegations of wrongdoing first became public this spring.
Cuomo does not mention anything about Todd Howe, the former lobbyist who is accused by Bharara of being involved in two complex bribing and bid-rigging schemes with Percoco and SUNY Poly head Alain Kaloyeros, also known as New York’s nano czar, who has long been one of the state’s top paid public employees.
Howe also has longstanding ties to Cuomo that date back to his father’s tenure in Albany.
According to the governor, SUNY has “relieved” Kaloyeros of his duties and suspended him without pay. According to Bharara’s complaint, Kaloyeros was earning in the neighborhood of $1.3 million.
Here’s the governor’s full statement:
“I learned this morning of the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s office that include a former member of my administration. If the allegations are true, I am saddened and profoundly disappointed. I hold my administration to the highest level of integrity.”
“I have zero tolerance for abuse of the public trust from anyone. If anything, a friend should be held to an even higher standard. Like my father before me, I believe public integrity is paramount. This sort of breach, if true, should be and will be punished.”
“SUNY has rightly relieved Alain Kaloyeros from his duties and has suspended him without pay, effective immediately.”
“This matter is now in the hands of the court, which is exactly where it belongs. My administration will continue to be fully cooperative in the matter as we have been since it began.”
Asked after his press conference whether Cuomo is in any way implicated in this case, Bharara said:
“What I can say at this moment is that there are no allegations of any wrongdoing or misconduct by the governor anywhere in this complaint. That’s all I’m going to say.”
Asked if it was “realistic” to believe that Cuomo, who is known as a very hands-on manager, did not know what his top aide was up to, Bharara replied:
“It’s not my job to comment on what is realistic or unrealistic.”
According to the U.S. attorney, this investigation is ongoing.