Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Monday, October 5, 2015

Where The Buffalo Billion Investigation Is Likely To Head

Capital Tonight held a very informative reporter roundtable on Friday.

Jim Heaney joined Liz Benjamin, Nick Reisman and Jimmy Vielkind to talk corruption and the US attorney's investigation into the Buffalo Billion project.

You can see that roundtable discussion here.

The takeaway I got from it was this:

The investigation into SUNY Polytechnic's handling of the Buffalo Billion contracts has already had an effect:

Questions continue about economic development practices by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, including the proposed sale of valuable piece of land from one state agency to another state entity for a dollar.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is reported to be probing contracts awarded as part of Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion project, with questions over the timing of campaign contributions to the governor, as well as criteria used to choose the vendors.

The investigation has led to new scrutiny of a deal that would allow the state’s energy agency to transfer a nearly 300 acre parcel of land in Saratoga County, in a high tech park, for $1 to the State University of New York’s Polytechnic Institute, using a third party entity known as Fuller Road Management. The market value of the land is estimated at $9 million.

As first reported in Politico New York, some of the board members of the New York State Energy Development Authority, or NYSERDA, objected. Board member Kenneth Daley, who is the head of the utility company National Grid, said he’d like an independent legal opinion before signing off on the deal.

“Given the sensitivity of having a $9 million valued asset that will be transferred with no economic benefit back to NYERDA, and given some on going audits in, let’s just call it, the business, not related to NYSERDA, is it worth having an independent opinion on this particular issue?” Daley asked fellow board members. “I don’t have a view, but I think it’s a fair question that we should ask.”
The audits Daley is referring to are the ongoing federal probe of the Buffalo Billion contracts. Daley says he completely agrees with the strategy to further high tech economic development, but says the transfer raises a red flag.  

Heaney said on Capitol Tonight that while it's hard to know if Bharara will find a smoking gun in the Buffalo Billion investigation, if the US attorney drills down into what Kaloyeros has been doing in Albany, it is potentially "explosive."

Kaloyeros has been close to Sheldon Silver, Cuomo hasn't thrown him personally under the bus yet - at least for now.

It will be interesting to see where all of this goes.

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