Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Is Cuomo Saving Something Big For The End Of The Legislative Session? Is Preet?

A Long Island Republican, unnamed, in Chris Smith's latest New York Magazine piece, on how the legislative session has gone so far:

“This has been the worst session ever,” a Long Island Republican senator says. “I can’t wait to get out of here.”

Smith writes that the legislature, still reeling from the arrests of the Assembly and Senate leaders, is looking to do the bare minimum before the legislative session ends on June 17, then scram out of town as fast as they can, but Governor Cuomo may throw rocks at that plan:

Predictions of a calm Albany conclusion, though, are based mostly on the legislature’s desire to get out of town quietly. And they come with one large caveat: Governor Andrew Cuomo. 

The governor has already been talking up tougher campus sexual assault rules and an education tax credit program that could help needy families, parochial schools, and wealthy donors. Cuomo has generally been opposed to tax increases. On the items crucial to the city — rent regulation and 421-a — the governor hasn’t really weighed in yet, instead suggesting “the parties work it out among themselves.”

For the past few days Cuomo has been tending to his partner, Sandra Lee, after her breast cancer surgery. But no one expects the low-profile to continue. “The governor loves splashy initiatives,” a Cuomo insider says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he spends Memorial Day weekend coming up with some big package to push in the final three weeks.”

Because after a period of tumultuous, involuntary change in Albany, a passive Andrew Cuomo would be the biggest shift yet.

Smith's prognosis misses one other caveat: Preet Bharara.

Cuomo may like to drive the narrative in Albany, but as we have seen so far this year, that's not actually what's happening any longer.

Bharara arrested Shelly Silver the day after Cuomo's big State of the State/budget address, short-circuiting all the lovely press Cuomo was going to get from the speech and putting a shiv into some of the governor's political momentum going into the budget negotiations.

Cuomo still got some of what he wanted - mostly in his destructive education reforms - but there was a lot that had to be left out of the budget agreement, including rent regulations, the charter cap increase, and mayoral control in NYC.

Then, just as things seemed to be calming down after the Silver arrest, Bharara struck again, first with leaks about a grand jury looking into Dean Skelos and son, then with the arrests of both.

Chris Smith writes

It has been 18 whole days now since anyone in New York State government has been arrested or indicted. Albany’s familiar rhythms have returned: By day, the clutches of lobbyists huddle around tables inside the Dunkin’ Donuts beneath the state capitol; by night, the clusters of older legislators huddle at the bar of the New World Bistro.

But you have to wonder, how much longer does that calm go on?

There are rumors abuzz that Governor Cuomo is next on Bharara's list.

Cuomo may be plotting some big plan to unveil for the last three weeks of the session, as Smith's "Cuomo insider" says, but it's quite possible US Attorney Preet Bharara is doing the same.


  1. RBE,

    we can all devoutly pray that Preet Bharara has the goods on Andrew Cuomo but I think that your hopes and musings about his fate may ultimately be disappointed.

    Bharara was recently criticized by the judge handling the Silver case so harshly for the things he did and said in connection with Silver's arrest that she nearly vacated some or all of the indictments. He's been chastised for public over-reach and for saying some very unprosecutorial things about federal judges, to whom he's been forced to apologize privately

    He clearly has the goods on Silver, because the judge couldn't bring herself actually to dismiss the indictments, and on Skelos, because he's got the man and his idiot spawn talking about everything on wiretapped cell phone burners.

    But US Attorneys really don't like to indict sitting Senators and Governors, unless, of course, you're a New Jersey Senator. The prosecution of Alaska Senator Ted Stevens was an unmitigated disaster for the Justice Department. Chris Christie may still get perp-walked on the non-Bridgegate contract and PA stuff but I bet the worst that happens to him is that he's named an "unindicted co-consipirator," if even that.

    Cuomo and his folks don't even use email. They use cell phones with highly sophisticated security features and change numbers and phones frequently. It would be hard to tap them and even then I'm certain that Andy and his crew are smart enough to talk in Sanskrit or Urdu when they communicate. All the office emails get dumped after three months so anything that accidentally got written down that might have been useful to Bhahara is long gone.

    I actually doubt that Bharara even "wants" Cuomo--he'll do what Fishman is doing to Christie in New Jersey and try to take down some of the people close to Cuomo. If he does that, we still can all say "Hallelujah" because it would make it just as hard for Andy to run for president some day as it is for Chris right now and might finally put a full stop to Cuomo's ability to govern in any meaningful way.

    Finally, even if they don't get Andrew, and just ding him by one degree of separation, it might be enough to get one of the not-very-brave folks waiting for Cuomo to stumble hard enough to justify running a primary against him in '18 to come out of the closet--I'm looking at you, Eric Schneiderman.

    1. US attorneys don't indict sitting governors?

      Tell that to Rod Blagojevich and George Ryan.

      As for whether Cuomo is indictable, I defer to NT2 blog:

      "Here’s the bottom line: If he could make cases against Silver and Skelos, he surely can make one against Cuomo. Think about it – Cuomo raised more than $60 million over the last six years. Nobody raises that much without having, at a minimum, appearance problems. And then there’s the way Cuomo and his top people have conducted themselves. No, none of them personally profited, but did they make dubious deals to get things done? Did they look the other way on things when it had utility to do so? Did they employ all manner of leverage on lawmakers? Of course they did. These are people for whom the ends (many times very good ends) justify the means.

      Preet, most likely, will make a case against the Governor. And it won’t matter one bit that the Governor recently lost his father and that his woman has cancer. Preet simply doesn’t care.

      Preet apparently believes that the only way things will really change in Albany is if all the leaders are taken out and there’s a fresh start. Ironically, just like Cuomo, the means don’t seem to matter to him. Personal costs don’t matter. Nor does the fact there’ll be disruption. The only thing that matters is the outcome. And maybe Preet is right. Maybe this has to happen to finally clean up state government."


      You can bet there's enough there if he wants to.

      Cuomo's antics make Skelos and Silver look small. The "pulled back" subpoenas during Moreland, the commission tampering both during and after, the $700,000+ from News Corp, the Sony money, the CSNY shadiness, the Litwin connection, the bankster bond deals - this is dirty stuff we're talking about.

      Bharara comes out of Schumer's shop and if there's anybody who would love to punish Cuomo and put his own guy into power, it's Chuck Schumer.

      None of this means that Barara will go after Cuomo.

      But it does mean that Cuomo no longer calls the shots in Albany the way he once did.

      And there is an outside chance that Cuomo could find himself in the same place that Silver and Skelos are.

      Preet doesn't delight in torturing Cuomo for nothing - witness the timing of the pressers for Silver and Skelos.