Governor Andrew Cuomo claims he barely knows Todd Howe, the lobbyist and former aide at the center of a federal investigation into corruption in Cuomo's economic development programs statewide.
And yet, there is Cuomo, along with lobbyist Todd Howe, back in 2012, at a function in Syracuse involving one of the companies that has been subpoenaed by the feds in the investigation, COR Development.
Also in the photo is Cuomo's former aide, Joe Percoco, also at the center of the federal investigation.
In case you're having trouble seeing, here's a close-up:
That's Howe on the right, Percoco on the left - like twin devils, exerting their corrupting influence on the good governor.
Or, more likely, the fish rots from the head and the corruption emanates from Cuomo, who surrounds himself with people who think and act like the rules don't apply to them because Cuomo himself thinks and acts like the rules doesn't apply to him.
Tim Knause of Syracuse.com found this photo and gives context for it all here:
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- A smiling Todd Howe was photographed, standing in the background, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo enthusiastically shook hands with the president of COR Development Co. during an October 2012 visit to Syracuse.
The picture captures the role that Howe has apparently been playing for years in Syracuse economic development projects. Since the federal probe became publicly known, Howe's image has emerged as an affable guy to see for help in getting state funding or access to Albany power.
In the foreground of the 2012 photo, Cuomo shakes hands with Steven Aiello, president of COR, a Fayetteville company. COR is one of more than 20 companies about which Bharara has subpoenaed information from the Cuomo administration, according to reports.
The photograph, which comes from a public archive on Syracuse University's website, was taken Oct. 2, 2012, during the governor's tour of projects promoted by the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council. The council makes annual funding recommendations to the governor.
It's not clear why Howe was at the event. He is not among the 24 invited guests listed on the governor's official schedule.
Cuomo arrived that morning at Syracuse University in a state police helicopter, accompanied by Percoco and another aide, according to his official schedule. From there, they went to nearby Kennedy Square to begin the tour.
Cuomo stopped at the CNY Biotech Accelerator, the only new building at the former Kennedy Square public housing site. The biotech business incubator is a joint project of Upstate Medical University and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
Neil Murphy, then president of ESF, recalls giving Cuomo a tour of the building that day. In the photo, Murphy and David Smith, then president of Upstate Medical, are looking on as Cuomo and Aiello shake hands.
Murphy said he did not yet know Howe in 2012 and does not know why he was at the event. Murphy said he first met Howe in 2014, when college officials met with COR to discuss plans for a $20 million state research facility to be built at the Syracuse Inner Harbor, where COR is the developer. Howe was a consultant to COR at that time, Murphy said.
Howe's association with COR's Inner Harbor project dates back at least to April 2012, when Howe accompanied COR to a meeting with officials of the state Thruway Authority, which then owned the harbor lands to be developed.
After touring the Biotech Accelerator building, Cuomo and other officials got a briefing on COR's plans to develop Kennedy Square. (Those plans have yet to be acted on.) Then they boarded a bus to tour other project sites, including St. Joseph's Hospital and the Inner Harbor.
For years, Howe was sought after by Syracuse developers and others looking for state money or access to the Cuomo administration.
Last year, Howe represented two successive developers, the Pemco Group and Carnegie Management, who were angling for a $2.5 million state grant to renovate the former Nynex Building in Syracuse. Bharara has subpoenaed Cuomo's records related to both companies, the Buffalo News reported. Company officials have not responded to requests for comment.
Howe also represented 3Gi CNYIP Inc., a company that is trying to develop a cargo transportation hub in Manlius. 3Gi was included in Bharara's subpoena to the governor's office, the Buffalo News reported. Company leader Eckhardt Beck said he was not happy with Howe's work for his company, but does not think Howe did anything improper while representing 3Gi.
The Wall Street Journal reported that Bharara is looking at whether Percoco received illegitimate outside income from companies doing business with the state, including COR. On a state disclosure form, Percoco reported between $50,000 and $75,000 in payments from COR during 2014, a year during which he left Cuomo's administration to run his re-election campaign. COR officials have repeatedly denied paying Percoco.
For more on the players in the federal investigation into Cuomo's economic development programs, contracting, donors and former aides and associates, see this handy guide at Syracuse.com.
On, and that photo of Cuomo, Percoco and Howe?
That wouldn't be the first time they were all together in recent years.
As Jimmy Vielkind reported, Howe "hosted" a fundraiser for Cuomo in December 2014 and guess who came with offerings for the Cuomo camapign?
That's right - COR Development execs:
ALBANY — While Gov. Andrew Cuomo has been downplaying his relationship with Todd Howe, a lobbyist at the center of a federal probe of his administration, records show that Howe was steering developers to contribute to the Cuomo campaign as recently as five months ago.
Howe, then a lobbyist for a subsidiary of Whiteman, Osterman & Hanna, hosted a dinner gathering with Cuomo on Dec. 14 in a small upstairs room of the Fort Orange Club, a baronial brick retreat across the street from Whiteman’s Albany offices and up the block from the state Capitol.
The governor walked in at 8:30 p.m., accompanied by two of his top aides, Bill Mulrow and Joe Percoco. He was met by Howe, who worked as his deputy chief of staff at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, executives from COR Development and Onondaga County Executive Joanie Mahoney, a key Republican ally of the administration, according to public records and four people familiar with the event.
The night’s $25,000 haul came in five checks from three COR executives, the wife of an executive and one of the company’s LLCs. They were deposited on Jan. 12. COR, a Syracuse-based firm, is building two research buildings for SUNY Polytechnic Institute at a business park the company owns in DeWitt.
While Howe’s work was only recently registered with state lobbying regulators, he was a paid adviser to both SUNY Poly and COR at the time of fundraiser. And Percoco, who has managed Cuomo’s political campaigns for more than a decade and shared an office with Howe during Cuomo's 2014 re-election effort, received at least $50,000 in consulting fees from COR that year — something Cuomo has said he did not know.
But that lobbyist under federal investigation for corruption?
Yeah, Cuomo doesn't know much about him or associate with him.