Gov. Cuomo’s controversial email policies could potentially hamper a federal investigation into his administration, some fear.
As part of a probe into former top Cuomo aide and friend Joseph Percoco and others close to the governor, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara issued a subpoenaed to the administration for records and communications pertaining to various economic development and nano-tech projects.
But in some cases, material being sought might have already been deleted--or never been retained in the first place.
That’s because the governor’s office until May 2015 had a policy that automatically deleted all emails after 90 days unless they were deliberately saved.
“We don’t know what the motivation at the time was for automatically deleting state emails after 90 days, but it did offer the opportunity to get rid of an enormous amount of emails without breaking the law,” said John Kaehny, of Reinvent Albany.
“It not only gets rid of an email on the agency end, but also on the governor’s office end,” he added. “That definitely means fewer emails around that could be inconvenient to the governor or anyone being investigated.”
And of course that was always the point of the deletion policy - as well as the untraceable communication system used by Cuomo and his minions within the administration:
The Daily News first reported in 2012 that Cuomo himself doesn’t even use email. Instead, he communicates either by phone or by using a BlackBerry PIN-to-PIN messaging system — a function that leaves no lasting trail because it bypasses data-saving email servers.
But just because all of this stuff got deleted on Cuomo's end doesn't mean it's gone forever:
Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law School professor and former federal prosecutor, said it’s hard to tell just what impact the old deletion policy might have on Bharara’s investigation.
He noted that while emails might have been killed internally, investigators could potentially recover them from servers or from those who received them from outside the administration.
“Prosecutors are greedy and want all kinds of things from all relevant parties,” Richman said.
That deletion policy - first started under Spitzer but expanded under Cuomo until public pressure forced him to stop, was always an egregious middle finger to the public by the governor.
Here's hoping that federal prosecutors get what they need to throw some of the criminals in and around the Cuomo administration in jail.
And according to Fred Dicker in the NY Post, that is exactly what they're worried about:
Joseph Percoco — Cuomo’s former top aide and close friend and, since December, senior vice president at Madison Square Garden — and Cuomo family associate Todd Howe are the subject of an explosive investigation by Bharara over the fees they received helping clients with business before the state.
Bharara served Cuomo’s office with a subpoena late last month seeking records related to Percoco, Howe and 24 other individuals and companies involved in a massive set of state contracts, including the Buffalo Billion project.
The subpoena rocked the Cuomo administration, where what some call a fearful “lockdown’’ is in effect, and has left many close to the governor convinced that criminal indictments are forthcoming.
“Preet Bharara’s subpoena is a turning point for the Cuomo administration,’’ said a source with firsthand knowledge of the situation.
“The administration isn’t what it was and, depending what Bharara comes up with, it may never be the same.’’
Almost every day there is new information ferreted out about the investigation (today we learn that Cuomo's vaunted New York weather system project may be under investigation as well), so it does have the feel of a turning point.
But given how much Cuomo and his flying attack monkeys have deleted and how much they have acted like an organized crime family in their communications, it remains to be seen if that really is the case.
Nonetheless, Cuomo has admitted there were problems with state contracting:
After it received the subpoena, the Cuomo administration acknowledged that Bharara's investigation, which has been under way for at least a year, raised questions of "improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts of interest" related to the portfolio of Buffalo Billion projects and related upstate development deals.
If Cuomo's admitting that publicly, you can just imagine what's under the surface.
Nevertheless, how far up the chain prosecutors can go to catch these guys.
Still, it's amazing how the Cuomo corruption stories keep coming.