Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Investigative Post Finds More Double Dealing In Cuomo's Buffalo Billion Project

I'm posting three, four, five times a day and I'm STILL not able to keep up with all the Cuomo corruption news.

Here's another item, courtesy of Investigative Post (which broke the Buffalo Billion story initially and may have interested the US attorney in investigating it):

Questionable dealings by officials managing the Buffalo Billion didn’t begin or end with the selection of a politically wired developer to oversee the construction of the SolarCity plant in South Buffalo.
In fact, before LPCiminelli started developing the SolarCity facility, the state-affiliated development corporation managing the Buffalo Billion awarded a $20.3 million contract to design the plant to an architecture firm whose president, Thomas Birdsey, sat on the board of a closely related entity.

Both development corporations were controlled by Alain Kaloyeros, the so-called nanotech guru and Gov. Cuomo’s point person on upstate economic development projects.

It wasn’t the first time EYP Architecture & Engineering had been chosen by the development corporations to work on major projects. Since 2013, the firm has been awarded work on at least five projects across upstate, both during and after its president’s stint on one of the development corporation’s boards.

“For any non-profit, it’s a huge red flag for self-dealing and corruption to have board members doing significant business of any kind whatsoever,” said John Kaehny, executive director of good government group Reinvent Albany.

Meanwhile, the law firm of Whiteman Osterman Hanna has been collecting fees from both the state-affiliated development corporations and the companies they were doing business with.

In the case of the Buffalo Billion, the firm has represented both LPCiminelli, as lobbyist, and the Fort Schuyler Management Corp., which has overall responsibility for the SolarCity project, as attorney.
The law firm’s government relations subsidiary is headed by Todd Howe, a longtime Cuomo associate currently under scrutiny from U.S Attorney Preet Bharara as part of a wide-ranging investigation.

The takeaway from all this?

“There’s all sorts of overlapping ties and roles in the SUNY Poly empire. Everywhere you turn it seems you bump into the same set of consultants and companies,” said E. J. McMahon, president of the Empire Center for Public Policy.

Go on over to Investigative Post and read the whole piece by Charlotte Keith.

It's more evidence that the further investigators and journalists dig into Cuomo, his donors, his minions, his contracts and his projects, the more interlinking stuff they find - all of it dubious at best.

SUNY Poly Scrubbed Dorm Project After Subpoenas

Gee, this doesn't have the appearance of a problem:

ALBANY – Officials say SUNY Polytechnic and its leader, Alain Kaloyeros, one of the point people for the Buffalo Billion program, is under investigation by the state attorney general over a contract awarded for a new dormitory building at the public college he runs in Albany.

A person familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is looking at possible bid-rigging violations after just one company – Columbia Development – put in a proposal to build the dorm.

The project, which included a signed contract with Columbia, was canceled last fall after SUNY Polytechnic officials said the construction effort was going to be rebid. It appears the scrubbing of the deal came about two months after Schneiderman issued subpoenas to the public college and the developer for information about the contract process.

 Kaloyeros has been a close advisor to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on upstate economic development issues, and Cuomo personally tapped him to handle mega-projects such as the SolarCity plant under construction in South Buffalo. Columbia is a large developer and builder of projects in the Albany area, including a sprawling new building at the SUNY Polytechnic campus on the west side of Albany. Between corporate contributions and those from individuals tied to the company, it has been a reliable donor to Cuomo in recent years.

Hey, you know that project we were going do but we got subpoenas on it?

Let's not do that anymore, okay.

And there's more trouble in CuomoLand:

The source who spoke to The News said the dorm contract award is not the only matter Schneiderman is looking at involving SUNY Polytechnic; the source declined to elaborate. Also, the person said U.S. Attorney General Preet Bharara is aware of Schneiderman’s probe and that the state investigation of the dorm project and Bharara’s expanding Buffalo Billion investigation is “all inter-connected.” In the Buffalo Billion probe that began with an inquiry after the awarding of the RiverBend project that will house a future SolarCity plant, Bharara issued subpoenas to SUNY Polytechnic and Cuomo’s economic development agency, as well as Buffalo firms LPCiminelli and McGuire Development.

Key takeaway from all of this?

"Schneiderman’s probe and the state investigation of the dorm project and Bharara’s expanding Buffalo Billion investigation is 'all inter-connected.'”

At the very least, Cuomo's going to have some serious political fallout to deal with when all the "interconnected" investigations come to a close and some of Cuomo's closest allies and former aides get carted off in handcuffs.

Investigation Into Another Cuomo Ally Broadens

This was reported late yesterday afternoon, but just in case you missed it:

The New York attorney general’s office is investigating possible bid-rigging related to a proposed dormitory at a State University of New York campus in Albany, part of a broader probe of contracting issues involving an ally of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, according to a person familiar with the investigation.

The office of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is examining whether Alain Kaloyeros, the president of SUNY Polytechnic Institute and a powerful force in state economic-development projects, improperly coordinated with real-estate firm Columbia Development, in possible violation of state antitrust laws, the person said.

Subpoenas on the matter were sent in September to SUNY Polytechnic, Columbia Development and Fuller Road Management Corp., a SUNY-affiliated nonprofit responsible for considering the bidding on the dorm project, the person said.

...

The probe comes amid heightened scrutiny of Mr. Cuomo’s upstate redevelopment initiatives, many of which involve SUNY Polytechnic and one of which, the Buffalo Billion project, is under investigation by the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office.

EYP Architecture & Engineering, another firm involved in Buffalo Billion, was also subpoenaed by the attorney general’s office in the dorm-bidding probe, the person familiar with the matter said. It wasn’t immediately clear what the firm’s role was in the dorm project.

The fallout for Cuomo?

The investigation is the highest-profile one to date by Mr. Schneiderman into people and projects close to Mr. Cuomo, a fellow Democrat.

And it comes as Mr. Cuomo’s orbit has been shaken by the Buffalo Billion investigation, part of which has become focused on one of the governor’s longtime aides and others close to Mr. Cuomo.

...

Many of the entities and individuals involved in both the state attorney general and U.S. attorney’s investigations have overlapping connections.

There are now multiple tentacles in the investigation into Cuomo administration corruption.

There's the initial Buffalo Billion investigation into bid rigging for Cuomo donors.

There's the Percoco matter wherein Cuomo's former top aide is being investigated for payments from companies with business before the state.

There's another former Cuomo aide, Todd Howe, being investigated similarly.

And there's the Kaloyeros matter, connected to both the Buffalo Billion Project and to the SUNY dorm project.

Count 'em and you've got four separate but interlinking strands of Cuomo corruption investigations.

Nothing yet reaching the governor, but interwoven with all of these scandals is one constant:

Cuomo donors are always involved.

"Shady" Cuomo Crony Gave Percoco Nearly 100% Mortgage Financing

The Cuomo/Percoco scandals keep coming:

Gov. Cuomo’s former right-hand man, who is under federal investigation, got nearly 100 percent financing on his sprawling Westchester home through a shady lender with close ties to the state capitol, The Post has learned.

Joe Percoco and his wife, Lisa Toscano-Percoco, obtained an $800,000 “balloon” mortgage to buy their $815,000 South Salem house in 2012 — and needed a new loan two years later to avoid default, records show.

The unusual, short-term loan was originated by GFI Mortgage Bankers, whose co-founder, Abe Eisner, is a key Cuomo liaison to Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. He even tagged along during the governor’s 2014 “solidarity” trip to Israel.

Gee, that was nice of the "key Cuomo liaison" to give Cuomo's top aide an $800,000 for an $815,000 house.

It's a shame Percoco couldn't seem to make the payments and really couldn't afford the house.

So what'd he do to fix the problem?

Percoco, 47, faced a deadline to pay off the massive debt around the same time he pocketed up to $125,000 in consulting fees from two firms with business before the state in 2014.

He and his wife failed to pay off the mortgage as required under its stated terms, and instead cut a deal with another lender on Aug. 25, 2014, to consolidate, extend and modify the agreement, records show.

Terms of that agreement include five years of fixed-rate, 3 percent interest payments to GuardHill Financial Corp.

At the time, Percoco had temporarily left his job as the governor’s executive deputy secretary to run his successful re-election campaign.

Official financial-disclosure forms made public on Monday show that Percoco made between $70,000 and $125,000 during 2014 as a consultant for two companies — COR Development and CHA Consulting — which are involved in publicly-funded revitalization projects upstate.

Sounds like Percoco needed to take the "consultant" fees from COR and CHA so that he wouldn't lose the new house that Cuomo's shady ally helped him get.

It's all kinda coming together now on Percoco, isn't it?

Given the near daily drip of sandal-related information on Percoco we're getting, I wouldn't be afraid to bet my own mortgage that Joe gets a new home for a couple of years that requires him to wear orange.

Facts Contradict Cuomo Statetments About Joe Percoco Employment Status

Governor Cuomo said on Monday his scandal-plagued former top aide, Joe Percoco, was able to take outside payments from other companies when he was working for Cuomo's 2014 -re-election campaign because he was a consultant.

This morning the Times-Union reports that Percoco's employment status not what Cuomo says it was:

Though Cuomo repeatedly said Percoco was a “consultant” to his 2014 re-election campaign, state Board of Elections records list the 17 payments made to Percoco between April and December by the governors campaign committee as “WAGES.” They were paid every two weeks, and rarely varied from a regular sum of $5,240.83.

Perhaps this was another typo, kinda the way the Cuomo people claimed they made a "typo"during the Buffalo Billion bidding process:

Not content with just building a factory for Solar City, the Cuomo administration appears to have rigged the bid by putting in the RFP (request for proposals) a stipulation that only a company with 50 years in business could bid. Well..... interestingly there is only one company in Buffalo that fit that bill, L.P. Ciminelli. Even more interesting is that Ciminelli is one of Cuomo's top 100 donors. Wow! What a coincidence!

When the information came out about the 50 year requirement the excuse was that it "was a typographical error" and it had been corrected and it should have said 15 years. But, Ciminelli was still awarded the contract.

Take a look at your keyboard. How does someone mistakenly type

50 instead of 15? I believe that excuse like I believe Cuomo supports education or your 2nd amendment rights.

Here's the deal, folks:  The more they dig into Cuomo and Percoco, the more they're finding that these two guys did not play y the rules, that they thought the rules did not pertain to them and they could do as they pleased when it came to the law.

Cuomo may yet avoid criminal prosecution by wile or guile, but Percoco is looking to be more and more on the hook for some crookery.

More on Percoco later.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Schneiderman Investigates Cuomo Ally For Rigging Bid For A Cuomo Donor

Another day, another corruption investigation involving a Cuomo ally and/or associate:

State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office is investigating potential bid-rigging in the development of a dormitory on the campus of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, according to a source with knowledge of the investigation.

SUNY Poly’s CEO Alain Kaloyeros, the state’s highest-paid employee and a major player in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s upstate high-tech development blueprint, is a key focus of the investigation, according to the source.

Subpoenas were issued in September to SUNY Poly as well as its development arm, Fuller Road Management Corp., as well as two Albany-based companies involved in the dorm project, Columbia Development and EYP Architecture & Engineering.

...

The Attorney General’s subpoenas were not the only ones received by SUNY Poly last fall.
The same month, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara’s office subpoenaed records from the school as part of its investigation into the Buffalo Billion program.

At the time, Cuomo said, “You can have investigations but that does not mean there’s any ‘there’ there, or that anyone did anything wrong.”

This SUNY case mirrored the Buffalo Billion case wherein a bid was rigged for a Cuomo donor to win:

A request-for-proposals issued by the school asked that the dorms be located within a 10-minute walk of SUNY Poly’s Fuller Road campus and required that the developer be based in the Capital Region and have experience in dorm construction.

The requirements matched the abilities of Columbia Development, which had been buying land along Loughlin Street adjacent to the SUNY Poly campus. Columbia is also the lead developer of the $190 million ZEN building on the campus, and the company said that it planned to become a tenant in that building.

SUNY Poly later said that Columbia had won the bid and would likely build three dormitories and parking on land that included the Loughlin Street properties.
...
 Columbia and its various entities have given the governor’s campaign at least $200,000 over the past three years. Half of that sum was donated to Cuomo’s political operation on a single day — June 17, 2014 — by two Columbia LLCs that each made $50,000 donations.

The same day, Nicolla’s wife, Jessica Nicolla, made a $50,000 donation to the governor’s campaign that, according to Board of Elections records, was made using her maiden name and an address in Muncie, Ind., her home town.

The same scam was worked in the Buffalo Billion with LP Ciminelli:

 Not content with just building a factory for Solar City, the Cuomo administration appears to have rigged the bid by putting in the RFP (request for proposals) a stipulation that only a company with 50 years in business could bid. Well..... interestingly there is only one company in Buffalo that fit that bill, L.P. Ciminelli. Even more interesting is that Ciminelli is one of Cuomo's top 100 donors. Wow! What a coincidence!

When the information came out about the 50 year requirement the excuse was that it "was a typographical error" and it had been corrected and it should have said 15 years. But, Ciminelli was still awarded the contract.

Take a look at your keyboard. How does someone mistakenly type

50 instead of 15? I believe that excuse like I believe Cuomo supports education or your 2nd amendment rights.
Ciminelli was of course a Cuomo donor:

LPCiminelli, whose chairman and chief executive, Louis P. Ciminelli, is a financial backer of Mr. Cuomo’s, was ultimately selected to construct the SolarCity factory.

Records show that the Ciminelli family was supportive of the governor’s campaign during the period when developers were being sought for Buffalo Billion projects.

On Nov. 19, 2013, Mr. Cuomo traveled to Buffalo for a fund-raiser. Campaign finance records show that Mr. Ciminelli’s wife provided facilities or services to the Cuomo campaign that day worth $2,350 — known as an in-kind contribution. A Cuomo campaign spokesman said the contribution paid for a private gathering that Mr. Ciminelli hosted for the governor that night.

Three weeks later, on Dec. 10, LPCiminelli submitted its proposal for development work as part of the Buffalo Billion. In early January, Mr. Ciminelli and his wife gave more money to the governor — $29,200 in total. Mr. Ciminelli was so generous, he donated more to Mr. Cuomo than was allowed by law, so a portion of his donation was refunded.

Later that month, LPCiminelli was selected as one of the winning developers, and would eventually build the SolarCity factory.

The subpoena to SUNY Polytechnic sought records related to monetary and in-kind donations to any state elected official.

A pattern of quid pro quo - bid rigging for Cuomo's donors, donations coming Cuomo's way?

De Blasio Defends Mayoral Control Despite Scandals

De Blasio was up in Albany today testifying in favor of extension of mayoral control.

State of Politics reports that the testimony was a fairly staid affair - except for this exchange:

The only actual fireworks came when de Blasio was challenged by Republican Sen. Terrence Murphy, who has been a staunch critic of the mayor and is a freshman lawmaker from a suburban Senate district that includes Putnam and Westchester counties.

“Convince me,” Murphy said, “with all the allegations going on in your office why I should vote for mayoral control.”

De Blasio responded by pointing to successes under the mayoral control program, including higher graduation rates and test scores as well as an expansion of computer science courses.

“These are major changes in the way we approach education,” de Blasio said. “It’s only possible under a mayoral control system.”

Murphy, however, wasn’t necessarily convinced.

“There’s one thing you forgot and that’s the trust factor,” Murphy said. “You have to have the trust of the people.”

The mayor shot back: “The public trusts the actual positive changes in their lives.”

And he added the allegations that have been raised shouldn’t count against the mayoral control policy itself or his administration.

“In our democracy, we don’t judge by allegations,” he said, “we judge by facts.”

Murphy’s political allies had initially complained over the Democratic fundraising tactics in 2014, when donors at de Blasio’s urging gave heavily to county party committees, which in turn supported candidates running in key battleground races.

Murphy succeeded in the Senate Republican Greg Ball, a maverick GOP lawmaker and conservative firebrand who moved to Texas rather than seek re-election.

De Blasio’s political team had backed Democrat Justin Wagner to replace Ball, one of a half-dozen competitive races that year. 

Heavy money is on mayoral control being extended for a year, then we do it all over again next year (assuming de Blasio isn't indicted or heading to prison by then.)

De Blasio wants a multi-year extension (knowing he cannot get a permanent extension like he tried for last year) but state Senate Republicans and Cuomo want to humiliate him as much as possible, so it's a heavy left to get more than a single year.

But we'll see - Heastie is backing the mayor and as always in Albany, you never know what gets horsetraded.

Oops - We'd Better Cancel That Event With The Governor's Secretary

Casey Seiler at the Times Union:

Amid a full-blooming investigation of possible deception and conflicts of interest involving Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former executive deputy secretary Joe Percoco, a May 10 “Public Affairs Roundtable Breakfast” featuring Cuomo’s current Secretary Bill Mulrow has been postponed.

The roundtable was to have been hosted by the lobbying arm of the Whiteman Osterman & Hanna law firm.

A subsidiary, WOH Government Solutions, was run by lobbyist Todd Howe, who represented several of the companies currently in focus in U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s probe into upstate economic development projects.

It's perfect that a roundtable featuring the governor's secretary was being sponsored by the lobbying arm of a law firm under investigation for corruption involving the governor's former aides and his Buffalo Billion Project.

I think they should have let it go on anyway - kinda like an emblem for the administration as a whole.

Cuomo Trying To Downplay Appearance Of Corruption

From Politico NY:

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo said a power plant that is at the center of a federal corruption probe still needs more approvals from the state, even though construction crews are now pouring its foundation.

Competitive Power Ventures already is at work on a proposed $1 billion 650-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda, Orange County. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is looking into ties between the plant and Cuomo administration figures. The governor's office has now cut off contact with CPV.

Cuomo, speaking to reporters on Monday for the first time since the scandal broke last Friday, tried to downplay the state’s action on CPV’s gas plant. He said permits issued by the state were “conditional,” though the plant began construction months ago.

“The CPV plant has not been approved, so it’s not like the plant is operating,” he told reporters. “There was a conditional early approval, they have to do a final agreement, which has never been done.”

Sure, the approval is conditional.

That's why the concrete is being poured for the foundation.

Everybody knows you pour the concrete for projects that haven't yet been approved so that you're ready to go when they get the "A-OK!"

As for where the appearance of corruption comes in:

For years, environmental and community groups have raised concerns about the plant, and the administration dismissed all of them, said Pramilla Malick, who runs a group called Protect Orange County that opposes the plant. Some of the numerous questions raised by local citizens over the years include whether trees were improperly cleared, whether the plant encroached upon the habitat of an endangered bat and whether it destroyed wetlands. They have also questioned why the Cuomo administration was pushing forward with a natural gas-fired power plant at a time when it was implementing climate policies, such as a fracking ban, that turned the state away from fossil fuel reliance.

“On multiple levels this project was inconsistent and incoherent with his public policies, which is why we were so bewildered with the approvals this project kept getting,” she said.
... 

Over the years, CPV has spent more than $220,000 on lobbying and donations to Cuomo’s campaign or to those of state lawmakers.
The wife of former Cuomo aide Joe Percoco received up to $120,000 from CPV, financial disclosures show. Some of the payments to Lisa Toscano-Percoco, who was a teacher in the New York City school system the year before she was employed by a consultancy firm, Chris Pitts LLC, that did work for CPV. Todd Howe, a lobbyist and longtime Cuomo friend who is also at the center of the investigation, has also done work for CPV.

Gee, maybe that's how the concrete for the foundation wound up getting poured before the official, you know, approval.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Shelly

Best reaction to Shelly Silver getting sentenced to 12 years in prison and a hefty fine to boot:


In other corruption news:


In July of 2015, Libous was found guilty of one count of lying to the FBI.

Silver going to prison, Libous dead less than a year after a criminal conviction.

Will be interesting to see what changes come about in the year ahead on the corruption front, won't it?

Scott Stringer Would Primary De Blasio Now If He Knew He Could Win

Ross Barkan in the Village Voice:

De Blasio is trapped in a singular no-man's-land. Bloomberg had the elites and the upper middle class; Giuliani had his white outer-borough ethnics. To all of these people, de Blasio is a feckless socialist. And to many of his old allies — and the leftists who never trusted him in the first place — he is a Hillary Clinton in Elizabeth Warren's clothing.

Emblematic of this struggle, and maybe of de Blasio's entire mayoralty, was his belated decision to back Clinton for president. She announced her campaign in April 2015; he hemmed and hawed until October. No one really believed that de Blasio, the campaign manager for her 2000 Senate bid, would endorse Bernie Sanders, and his delayed choice was widely mocked — even by Clinton, during their excruciating "CP time" skit at the annual Inner Circle dinner. But according to City Hall sources, de Blasio actually did come genuinely close to endorsing Sanders, only to have top aides, including Emma Wolfe, talk him out of it. As the presidential primary descended on New York this April, de Blasio, frozen out of Clintonland for insufficient loyalty and bereft of the adulation progressives showered on Sanders, had nowhere left to go.

Now his potential 2017 rivals salivate. Comptroller Scott Stringer would primary him now if he knew he could win. Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. and U.S. Representative Hakeem Jeffries have Cuomo cooing in their ears. De Blasio can't buy support or deference like Bloomberg could, and he's never been overwhelmingly popular since he took office. Had he embraced his progressive conscience fully and endorsed Sanders, he could at least have tapped into a whole new universe of donors, a wave of millennials thrilled to have their own Bernie acolyte in stodgy City Hall. Imagine if Sanders deigned to email a fundraising appeal on behalf of his besieged Brooklyn buddy?

Read the whole piece by Barkan - it's quite fair to de Blasio and pretty instructive of why he's in the mess he's in.

As for Stringer, I say he should throw his hat in the ring if he's so eager to run against de Blasio.

Show some guts, have at it while the mayor's down (and maybe almost out) and the governor's actively looking for primary challengers against de Blasio.

Federal Investigators Looking At Cuomo's Vaunted Solar City Project

From the Buffalo News:

Federal investigators looking into the Buffalo Billion have requested information from SolarCity, the California-based rooftop solar energy systems installer, whose solar panel factory in South Buffalo is the keystone of the state’s high-profile economic development initiative.

SolarCity is not the focus of the investigation, a company spokesman said Monday.

The spokesman also said it was “premature” to speculate on how the ongoing investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara will have on the timeline for completing construction of the $900 million factory. The plant would be the biggest solar panel production facility in the Western Hemisphere, now scheduled to open next year.

“We’re not the focus of the investigation, but the U.S. Attorney’s office did request information from us to aid in the investigation, and we will cooperate fully,” Jonathan Bass, SolarCity’s vice president of communications, said in a statement in response to questions from The Buffalo News.
 
Bass noted that SolarCity has not been directly involved with the construction of the 1 million-square-foot solar panel factory that is being built on South Park Avenue. Under the company’s deal with the state, New York is paying $750 million to build the factory and install sophisticated production equipment that SolarCity will use to make its solar panels. The company, which has agreed to spend up to $150 million of its own money on the project, will lease the factory from the state for $1 a year, plus utilities, over a 10-year term.

If you're looking for stock not to buy, Solar City fits the bill.

Unless you're into dead cats, that is.

FBI Executed Search Warrants In Four Different Locations In Buffalo Billion Corruption Investigation

From the NY Times:

Financial disclosure statements from a former senior aide and campaign manager to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, currently at the center of an investigation involving improper lobbying and conflicts of interest, show that he earned at least $70,000 in consulting fees in 2014 from two entities that do business with the state.

The aide, Joseph Percoco, was one of Mr. Cuomo’s closest confidants and was employed by him as his executive deputy secretary until early January, when he left for a job as senior vice president at Madison Square Garden.

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan and the Federal Bureau of Investigation are currently looking at whether Mr. Percoco and his wife failed to properly disclose thousands of dollars in income they had received from entities doing business with the state, according to people briefed on the matter.
The state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics, known as Jcope, received a federal grand jury subpoena seeking copies of Mr. Percoco’s financial disclosure forms more than a week ago, according to a person familiar with the subpoena. F.B.I. agents from the Buffalo office have executed search warrants at locations around Buffalo, Albany, New York City and Washington, several people briefed on the matter said.

Also last week, the governor’s office received a grand jury subpoena seeking a broad range of records, including correspondence and other documents, reflecting whether Mr. Percoco may have sought a benefit on behalf of any of the companies that paid him and his wife, or anyone else, a person with knowledge of the subpoena said.

Search warrants at locations around Buffalo, Albany, New York and Washington.

Subpoenas to JCOPE and the governor's office.

Cuomo talked to the press last night in an extraordinary effort toward damage control.

But the governor's jive is meaningless in the face of search warrants and subpoenas.

Companies Tied To Percoco Corruption Investigation Increased Donations To Cuomo

From the Wall Street Journal:

A former aide to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo who is a focus of a federal public-corruption probe reported at least $70,000 in income from two companies that had business before the state and had contributed to the governor’s re-election campaign.

The federal investigation is looking at payments that Joseph Percoco, Mr. Cuomo’s former aide and re-election campaign manager, reported he received from COR Development Co. LLC, a developer, and CHA, a civil-engineering firm previously known as Clough, Harbour & Associates LLC, and whether the firms received beneficial treatment from the state, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Percoco’s annual financial disclosure statements show he received payments from both companies in 2014. He received between $50,000 and $75,000 from COR and between $20,000 and $50,000 from CHA, according to the reports.

...

During the time Mr. Percoco reported receiving the payments from these companies, he spent a large portion of the year working as campaign manager for Mr. Cuomo’s 2014 re-election bid, a period that coincided with a significant increase in donations to the governor’s campaign from CHA.

Between 2013 and 2014, Clough, Harbour & Associates donated $160,000 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign, according to filings with the state Board of Elections. Before that, the one reported contribution from the firm to Mr. Cuomo was $1,000 in 2010. The company gave another $35,000 to the governor’s campaign in 2015.

In 2013, COR executives and LLCs affiliated with the company contributed $187,500 to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign, up from $60,000 in 2012 and $15,000 in 2011.

Before January 2011, the only contribution from those parties was a $5,000 donation from COR President Steven F. Aiello, in 2010.

Steven F. Aiello has a son, Steven L. Aiello, who currently works for the state's Division of Military and Naval Affairs as a project assistant but previously worked for Cuomo's re-election campaign.

COR reiterated yesterday that they never paid Percoco but Percoco's JCOPE disclosure form says otherwise.

Perhaps Preet never gets as high as Cuomo in this matter, perhaps Cuomo continues to have plausible deniability around the corruption allegations, the increased donations, the outside payments, the rigged bids and so forth.

Jim Heaney at Investigative Post writes that even if that is so, Cuomo's governing style invited this kind of corruption:

In short, the Cuomo crowd is obsessed with secrecy and operates with the mistaken notion that the rules don’t apply to them. The governor may or may not have knowledge of the supposed misdeeds of some of his associates, but he has most certainly created an environment that’s made state government susceptible to official misconduct.

The erased emails, the use of untraceable Blackberry PIN communication, the ignored FOIA requests - all show Cuomo running his administration not like a governing official but like an organized crime figure who doesn't want to end up on a wire or with his emails subpoenaed.

And if Cuomo or his minions get offended by the organized crime analogy, well, too bad.

That's exactly how they run things in the Cuomo administration, as we're seeing more and more in the Buffalo Billion and associated investigations.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Cuomo: I Knew Of Percoco's Outside Consulting Work And I Was Okay With It

Cuomo talked to the press tonight about the Percoco investigation:








And now, some reaction to Cuomo's comments:





In essence:


Or, if you're more of a visual learner:

Somebody's Lying

From Tim Knauss at Syracuse.com:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. – COR Development Co. officials on Saturday denied ever paying a cent to a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. But today state officials released a disclosure form on which that aide, Joseph Percoco, declared between $50,000 and $75,000 in income from COR Development.

Today, COR officials stood by their assertion that the company never paid Percoco.

Percoco is reported to be one of the targets of a federal investigation into Cuomo's Upstate economic development efforts. He worked as a top aide to the governor for years, and took a leave of absence for much of 2014 to run Cuomo's re-election campaign.

On a state-mandated financial disclosure form filed with the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and made public today, Percoco listed COR along with the Cuomo campaign as one of his sources of income. According to the form, COR paid Percoco "consulting fees.''

The Wall Street Journal reported that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is looking into whether Percoco received undisclosed outside income from companies doing business with the state, including COR, among other lines of investigation.

Asked about that report Saturday, COR officials said they never paid Percoco.

"COR Development did not hire, retain or pay Joe Percoco in any capacity, and intends to fully cooperate with any investigation into this matter," said Maggie Truax, speaking for the company.
Asked today about Percoco's filing, Truax said only that COR stood by its original statement. She offered no further explanation.

"Our statement stands as is,'' she said.

Yikes.

So COR Development says they never paid Percoco.

Percoco's disclosure form says they did.

Casey Seiler succinctly explained what that means:


I bet Preet Bharara might be able to get to the bottom of who is lying - and why.

Here might be another interesting thing for Preet to pursue:

The more these Percoco matters get looked into, the more questions that get raised.

When it's journalists raising the questions, the Cuomo administration has been able to evade answering.

But of course, a US attorney with subpoena power is a whole different thing.

COR, btw, gave Andrew Cuomo a lot of money too:

Steven F. Aiello, COR Development's president and management member, has given Cuomo $65,000 in his own name since the beginning of the governor's first term in 2011, and his wife, Lori, gave $25,000. Three limited liability companies sharing a Fayetteville address gave a collective of more than $92,000, records show, and at least $65,000 in other gifts can also be tied to the company.

And, to make matters even more curious:

A young policy aide in the Cuomo administration, Steven L. Aiello, is Steven F. Aiello's son, a Cuomo spokesman confirmed. He had previously worked at the state Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and also worked as director of operations for Cuomo's 2014 reelection bid, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Subpoena away, Preet.

More Cuomo Donors Who Got Big Big Favors

Man, the questionable stories around Governor Cuomo and his donors keep coming.

There was this one this morning.

Now here's another:

ALBANY — The company that proposed a power plant now at the center of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s probe of the Cuomo administration has received a series of beneficial state approvals in recent years and was a generous donor to Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

Competitive Power Ventures is now at work on a proposed $1 billion natural gas-fired power plant in Wawayanda, Orange County.

As a result of Bharara’s probe, the administration has cut off contact with CPV, the Daily News has reported. Bharara is examining whether top Cuomo aide Joe Percoco received tens of thousands of dollars from CPV, the Wall Street Journal reported. Todd Howe, a lobbyist close to Cuomo who is also at the center of the investigation, has done work for CPV.

The CPV Energy Center plant has received a series of approvals from the Cuomo administration over the years. The 650-megawatt plant in Orange County is viewed by the Cuomo administration as a key part of its plan to find replacement power for the Indian Point nuclear center, should Gov. Andrew Cuomo succeed in his effort to get it shut down.

The state’s action on CPV includes multiple levels of approvals for plant, as well as an approval for upgrades to the Marcy transmission line, which will connect it to the energy grid. The plant will also connect to the Millennium pipeline, which the company has applied for that through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The approval of the natural gas-fired plant came at a time when the administration was generally attempting to move away from fossil fuel generation and toward renewable energy generation, per its Reforming Energy Vision, which seeks to make the energy grid more reliant on renewable sources and more efficient.

CPV has spent more than $140,000 lobbying the Cuomo administration and lawmakers in recent years, state lobbying disclosures show. CPV, and a host of connected LLCs, also donated at least $80,000 to Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Much of that came just before Cuomo took office, and the company was preparing to seek state approvals for its Hudson Valley power plant.

Maybe it's all good, maybe nothing funky went on here.

But the appearances are that CPV got approval for a natural gas-fired plant even though the administration was trying to move away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy perhaps because they were sending money to Cuomo (via donations) and to former Cuomo's aides, Joe Percoco and Todd Howe (via consulting fees.)

No smoking gun but plenty of questions that need to be answered, that's for sure.

Cuomo Got $247,000 From Company/People Tied To Corruption Probe, Donor's Son Got Job In Cuomo Administration

How's this for an appearance of, well, trouble for Cuomo?

People and entities associated with a company that's reportedly part of a federal investigation into a close associate of Gov. Andrew Cuomo have given at least a quarter million dollars in donations to Cuomo's campaign fund, records show.

COR Development Co. LLC is being looked at by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's office in conjunction with an inquiry into potentially undisclosed conflicts of interest involving a former top Cuomo aide, Joe Percoco, who left the administration in January, the Wall Street Journal reported.

The probe is focused on whether Percoco received undisclosed outside income from firms doing business with New York government.

Steven F. Aiello, COR Development's president and management member, has given Cuomo $65,000 in his own name since the beginning of the governor's first term in 2011, and his wife, Lori, gave $25,000. Three limited liability companies sharing a Fayetteville address gave a collective of more than $92,000, records show, and at least $65,000 in other gifts can also be tied to the company.

A young policy aide in the Cuomo administration, Steven L. Aiello, is Steven F. Aiello's son, a Cuomo spokesman confirmed. He had previously worked at the state Division of Homes and Community Renewal, and also worked as director of operations for Cuomo's 2014 reelection bid, according to his LinkedIn profile.

Given that COR is under the microscope by the feds in the Percoco investigation, you have to think that the donations to Cuomo and the job for the donor's son will get a looksie too.

Which is not good news for Andrew Cuomo - especially since his pal Joe Percoco may need to, you know, trade something in return for leniency if a corruption case is brought against him.

The Beginning Of The End For Andrew Cuomo?

Fred Dicker writes that it could be:

It’s a “devastating turning point” and possibly the “beginning of the end” of Gov. Cuomo’s 30-plus-year political career. 
That’s the profound impact of US Attorney Preet Bharara’s corruption probe of Cuomo’s longtime friend and top aide Joe Percoco — who was tighter with the governor than even members of his own family, top state Democrats told The Post. 
“Joe was even closer to Cuomo than [girlfriend] Sandra Lee, closer than his sisters and even his brother Chris. Joe was always there with him, for God’s sake,’’ said a prominent Democrat who has known Cuomo for years. 

In a move widely seen as a pre-emptive effort to put his own “spin’’ on the federal probe, Cuomo announced late Friday that an investigation was being launched into “undisclosed conflicts of interest by some individuals which may have deceived state employees’’ involved in economic development programs. 

The announcement, which came as Bharara’s probe of Percoco became public, stunned many close to Cuomo because it appeared that the governor was, as a Cuomo administration source put it, “just throwing Joe under the bus, which seemed incredible to everyone and suggested how serious all of this is.’’ 

Administration insiders quickly began asking if Percoco — whose career and relationship with the governor goes back to the days of Gov. Mario Cuomo — could have, as investigators suspect, illegally pocketed some $150,000 from contractors without Cuomo knowing about it.

“Do you think Joe would have done something like this without checking with Andrew and letting him know what was happening?’’ asked a longtime Cuomo associate.

“I find that impossible to believe,’’ the source continued.

I do too - nobody micromanages more than Cuomo, so it's hard to believe that he didn't know about the Buffalo Billion malfeasance and it's hard to believe that he didn't know about Percoco's double dealing.

In addition, Erica Orden at the Wall Street Journal has reported that Percoco continued to act in an official role for Cuomo even though he was no longer working for him and had taken a job working for Madison Square Garden Co.

This official role had Percoco doing some cajoling and arm-twisting during the budget negotiations in March as well as stage managing some Cuomo events including his State of the State Address in January.

Just what was Percoco doing, working for MSG and Governor Cuomo at the same time?

I dunno, but I bet Joe does - and maybe Preet will soon too:

Another huge question hovering over the governor is whether Percoco, privy for years to the intimate workings of the Cuomo administration, might have information that would be of interest to Bharara — which he might be willing to trade for leniency.

In the end, here's how it all could shake out:

“This is a devastating turning point for Andrew that could be the beginning of the end’’ of his career, said a Democrat who once counted himself among Cuomo’s strongest supporters.

Given the number of things Cuomo's on the hook for here - Buffalo Billion malfeasance, corruption by his top aide Percoco and by another former staffer, Todd Howe, the apparent conflict of interest of Percoco working for MSG and Cuomo simultaneously, and questions around what Percoco might be willing to do for a lighter sentence - I would say there really is potential for this to be the end of Cuomo's career.

That may seem like hyperbole, but when you look at the confluence of events and stories we've seen on Cuomo and the people around him since Friday, he's got serious, serious trouble and it's difficult to see how he bullshits his way out of it the way he has in the past.

Cuomo wants to run for president in the future, he wants to be considered for a prime slot speaking at this year's Democratic National Convention.

Given the mess he's in now, I would be surprised he gets the latter, let alone the former.

Cuomo Must Answer Why Corrupt Former Aide Was Still Working For Him

Erica Orden wrote in the Wall Street Journal on April 21 that Governor Cuomo's former aide, Joe Percoco, was pretty much still working for the governor even though he had officially stepped down from his government job and was supposed to be working a new gig in the private sector.

Percoco was still attending Cuomo's government functions, still wearing his official badge, still seemingly managing some of Cuomo's affairs even though he was working for Madison Square Garden, not the governor.

With Percoco now in the sights of federal prosecutors over corruption, Orden reports that Percoco was not only still attending Cuomo's government functions badged up like he was still a government employee, he was also pushing Cuomo's political agenda behind the scenes as late as last month during the budget negotiations:

In recent months, while working in the private sector as a top executive at Madison Square Garden Co., Joseph Percoco, a former senior staff member for Gov. Andrew Cuomo, has continued to aid the governor at public events.

He hasn’t stopped there.

Behind the scenes, Mr. Percoco has also advocated on behalf of the Democratic governor before the state legislature and has directed government events while presenting himself as a current member of the executive chamber, according to people familiar with the matter.

Those actions provoke concerns among some ethics watchdogs about his competing public- and private-sector interests, particularly with regard to matters in which Madison Square Garden has a stake.

According to people involved in the process, Mr. Percoco, who began his job as a senior vice president at Madison Square Garden in early January, privately operated in late March on behalf of Mr. Cuomo during budget negotiations.

The revelation of Mr. Percoco’s role in budget talks comes as he is under federal investigation for possible conflicts of interest involving payments from companies with business before the state during his time working for the governor, according to people familiar with the matter. In response, Mr. Percoco’s lawyer has called him a “dedicated and effective public servant.”

Governor Cuomo has been hiding since news surfaced that his former aide - described by Cuomo as like a brother to him - has been revealed to be under federal investigation for corruption.

Cuomo must be called to account for why it is Percoco was still doing the governor's bidding as late as Marchduring the budget negotiations - especially because Percoco's new bosses at MSG had business before the state.

Here's Orden again:

Since shifting to the private sector, Mr. Percoco has been active in other ways behind the scenes for Mr. Cuomo and his administration. In January, he directed top elected officials gathered backstage for Mr. Cuomo’s State of the State address on their roles in the program, according to people who were present.

Mr. Percoco was the only person in the room not on the state payroll, these people said. The Wall Street Journal previously reported that he attended the speech sporting government staff credentials.
His appearance backstage caused a stir. Some huddled there were confused about whether Mr. Percoco had begun his new job and, if so, why he appeared to be directing state officials on Mr. Cuomo’s behalf. The address took place Jan. 13; according to the state Comptroller’s records, Mr. Percoco went off the state payroll on Jan. 4, the same day he started employment at Madison Square Garden.

His new employer, meanwhile, had an interest in the substance of the event Mr. Percoco was helping to facilitate. Besides issues such as taxation and the minimum wage, the address contained proposals explicitly linked to the company, most prominently the overhaul of Penn Station.

Mr. Cuomo’s plan for the station included the possibility of demolishing a theater on Eighth Avenue owned by Madison Square Garden.

A few days earlier, on Jan. 6, Mr. Cuomo had frustrated many advocates of a Penn Station renovation when he announced bids would be sought for the revamp but laid out few details, though he did say that any plan that called for moving the Garden was a non-starter. That is an outcome Madison Square Garden Co. had long sought.

Mr. Kelly, the Cuomo spokesman, said the decision to keep the Garden put was simply the most practical and that moving it would have required “an astronomical sum of money.”

Mr. Percoco had also worked at that event—which took place at the Garden—on behalf of Madison Square Garden. Thus, within the span of a week, Mr. Percoco apparently operated at two different government events concerning a topic of interest to Madison Square Garden, once representing his current employer and once representing his former.

Man, if that doesn't have at the very least an appearance of conflict of interest and double dealing, I dunno what does.

When Orden first wrote up the Percoco story on April 21, one of Cuomo's flying attack monkeys responded that it was absurd for the WSJ to allege that Percoco and Cuomo were doing anything wrong by having the former aide still involved with Cuomo's official work.

With Percoco under federal investigation for corruption and with Percoco's role with Cuomo clearly a complex one, there is nothing absurd about asking questions about these matters.

What was Percoco doing still pushing the governor's agenda even though he was officially working for MSG?

Why was Percoco badged up like a state employee when he was no longer working for the governor?

What conversations, if any, did Percoco and the governor have about MSG and Penn Station after it became clear Percoco would be working for the Garden?

Finally, why won't Cuomo answer these questions instead of having his attack monkeys go into assault mode when questioned by the press?

I won't hold my breath that Cuomo answers any of my questions, but you can bet Preet Bharara and the federal investigators looking into Percoco are not unaware of the work Percoco has been doing for the governor since he officially starting working for MSG and will be asking questions as well.

And of course Bharara has subpoena power, so those questions tend to get answered one way or another.