ALBANY—More than a month after his departure was announced, Larry Schwartz, a top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo, is still coming into the office and remains on the payroll, an administration spokesman confirmed.
Schwartz, whose title was secretary to the governor, will remain on the payroll through “early March,” according to Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi. New York Post columnist Fred Dicker first reported on Monday that Schwartz was still collecting his $181,560 salary. Schwartz's title has shifted to “Dir of the NY Off.”
Cuomo, speaking to reporters after a speech in Upper Manhattan, said Schwartz's title change and work arrangement were "standard practice."
“The job title for secretary was filled, so he had to have a different job title while he was on payroll. You can't have two secretaries to the governor, right? But that is the standard practice," the governor said. "As a matter of fact, the entire story was really garbage. I know garbage because I read that paper, but that was really garbage.
"First of all, Larry Schwartz, it is typical, when you leave state service, you either get paid out for your vacation time or you can take the vacation time. He took the vacation time. He's also been transitioning while he's been on vacation, so virtually every day he's been helping us with the transition. And in terms of him not being able to get private-sector jobs: I literally talked to him last week—he has three fantastic offers. I was considering them for myself if he didn't take it.”
The shrillness of the Cuomo response - and the response of his spokesperson - shows you just how close to home this story hit.
A few of us on Twitter have played the "Where In The World Is Larry Schwartz?" game since Schwartz's departure was announced but his new job in the "private sector" was kept secret.
It seemed a little funky that Schwartz's alleged gig was being kept secret, especially since it's a well-known fact that Schwartz was the governor's man who had the Moreland subpoenas to Cuomo's donors "pulled back" and was interviewed by federal prosecutors over the summer about the matter.
Now we know from the Dicker story that Scwhartz does not actually have a new gig and while Cuomo's playing up how many offers Schwartz has, it remains to be seen whether Schwartz, under a legal cloud because of the Moreland matter, actually does have any.
Last point - and one which I made earlier:
It smells of quid prop quo that Schwartz is still on the payroll, making more than Cuomo himself is actually making, in a job they specially created for him, given the legal jeopardy that Schwartz may be under in the Moreland matter.
The fierce response from the Cuomo administration and Cuomo himself today do not convince me otherwise.
I wonder what Preet Bharara and his investigators think?