State law ebforcement agents at SUNY polytechnic today, after serving search warrants on Todd Howe's office. pic.twitter.com/Od8qoGwhoR— Jesse McKinley (@jessemckinley) May 26, 2016
From the NY Times:
ALBANY — Agents from the state attorney general’s office conducted a search at the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute here on Thursday, scouring an office once used by a lobbyist as part of an inquiry into possible bid rigging.Agents arrived with search warrants and looked through an office used by Todd R. Howe, who has past ties to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, a Democrat. Mr. Howe had worked as the president of the lobbying arm of Whiteman Osterman & Hanna, a prominent Albany law firm which had SUNY Polytechnic as a client. Agents also served a warrant to examine communications from Alain E. Kaloyeros, the school’s president.Mr. Howe and Mr. Kaloyeros have recently emerged as central players in a multipronged federal investigation led by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, surrounding the Buffalo Billion, the governor’s signature upstate economic initiative. Mr. Howe was fired from Whiteman after news of the federal investigation broke last month.The search — conducted by several agents, who looked into electronic files and removed at least two boxes of material — focused in part on a plan to build a dormitory near the university’s sleek campus. But according to an official with knowledge of the investigation, agents were also looking into other projects connected with SUNY Polytechnic, as well as several developers who had worked with the school.
They're looking at bid-rigging - that the proposal for a dormitory project was written up in such a way that only a Cuomo donor (Columbia Development, $195,000 to Cuomo since August 2013) could win it.
This would follow what appears to be an emerging pattern of rigging proposals for Cuomo donors, as happened with LP Ciminelli in the Buffalo Billion Project or NAH for a proposed for-profit charter school that got backdated under older rules that still allowed for for-profit charters.
Investigators are also looking at the relationship between Cuomo administration officials and COR Development, which gave the governor $325,000 through various individuals and entities and received $100 million in state contracts.
Something similar is happening with Cuomo's vaunted LaGuardia Airport redo, where Cuomo donors stand to do very well in plans set forth by the Cuomo administration, though there's no indication that investigators are looking at that - yet, at any rate.
Yesterday's raid suggests former Cuomo aide/Cuomo hand model Todd Howe is done for - it's only a matter of time before he's picked up and squeezed by the feds.
And since he acted as a "de facto chief of staff" to SUNY Poly guy Alain Kaloyeros and the feds are looking at Kaloyeros too, well, you'd have to think it's only a matter of time before the highest paid state employee gets picked up too.
Cuomo threw Howe and Kaloyeros under the bus this week, along with former aide/confidante Joe Percoco, saying that the the investigation was really limited to those individuals, but with news that the investigations by the U.S. attorney and the attorney general continue to widen (see here, here and here), that appears not to be the case.
There is still no evidence that this will reach as high as Cuomo, but here's the thing that should give some hope on that.
There's one string that links all of this disparate strands together and it is this: Cuomo donors gave money to Cuomo and got state contracts, grants, subsidies and/or other help in return.
This happened not once or twice but seemingly over and over and over.
Maybe Cuomo's got a firewall between himself and the rest of his cronies pulling these shenanigans, but he'd better hope it's a very strong firewall.
Because the authorities are looking not just at some corrupt individuals in basically a good system - they're looking at some corrupt individuals operating in a just-as-corrupt system.
And no pol has taken advantage of that system more than Cuomo, who had a huge war chest for his last re-election and even now is sitting on $16 million raised from dubious sources.