ALBANY — Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino refused to give a top Independence Party leader a patronage job in exchange for the party’s ballot line, he claimed Friday.
Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption panel had conducted a preliminary probe of accusations that Westchester Independence Party chairman Giulio Cavallo was trading jobs for endorsements.
Astorino, a Republican now running for governor, says he was told in 2009 that he’d have to find a job for Cavallo if he wanted his party’s endorsement.
“Chairman Cavallo demanded that I give him a job with benefits after the 2009 election,” Astorino told The Post. “I had been told by multiple sources that Mr. Cavallo has a history of shaking down public officials for no-show jobs. I refused to hire him, and the Independence Party dropped its support of me right there and then.”
A political dissident who asked Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption panel to look into a top Independence Party official thinks the way things turned out just stinks.
Two months after Tom Reddy’s last interview with an investigator, the commission closed for business — and soon after Cuomo won the Independence Party ballot line.
“They were looking into it. The next thing you know, the Moreland Commission was disbanded and Cuomo gets the Independence Party endorsement,” said Reddy, a former Westchester detective.
In a letter to the panel and Cuomo last August, Reddy pleaded for an investigation of Westchester Independence Party leader Giulio Cavallo.
“Mr. Cavallo has been boasting for years about his ability to squeeze elected officials for patronage jobs in exchange for the IP party line,” Reddy wrote.
He also claimed Cavallo personally benefited by holding down a number of government jobs “for which he has done no work.”
Initially, Reddy said the Moreland Commission panel took his charges seriously.
He said he was contacted by chief investigator Robert Addolorado in December 2013 and again in January 2014.
In March, the commission was disbanded.
In May, the Independence Party endorsed Cuomo for re-election.
“It was amazing, we didn’t hear anything [back]. Now the commission is defunct,” Reddy said.
A commission source confirmed it was looking into no-show patronage scams to determine if people got phony full-time or part-time jobs to qualify for state pension and health benefits.
“There were multiple targets,” the source said.
Records show Cavallo has held several state jobs. From 1999 to 2005 he was a “project coordinator” for the state Health Department with a salary of $87,366. From 2005 to 2009, he served as a “community aide” on the payroll of the state Senate making about $50,000 a year. From 2009 to the present, Cavallo was a “special health adviser” to the state Senate, making about $57,000 a year.
His workplace in Manhattan is at 250 Broadway, across from City Hall.
But a former employee in that same office said she has never seen him and doesn’t know who he is.
“I have never heard of this fellow. This fellow’s name does not ring a bell with me at all,” said Judith Stupp, former downstate coordinator for Senate Republicans.
Cavallo claims the second story was planted by the Astorino campaign to make both the Independence Party and Cuomo look bad.
I have no doubt that's true.
Nonetheless that doesn't take away the impact of both stories - Astorino says he was shaken down for the Independence Party ballot line in the past and Cuomo received the Independence Party ballot line this time around after the Moreland Commission, which was looking into possible corruption of Independence Party officials, was disbanded.
As Arsenio Hall used to say back in the day - "Things that make you go 'Hmmmm...'"