SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo reiterated Thursday that lobbyist Todd Howe, a focus of a federal investigation, is not a close friend of his despite multiple connections between them being reported by the media.
After a news conference in Syracuse, a reporter asked Cuomo if he maintains he was not close with Howe despite published reports that Howe paid for and hosted a fundraiser for him in December, exchanged emails with Cuomo's top aides, had an office at a SUNY college in Albany, accompanied the governor on a tour of Syracuse economic development projects, and worked for both Cuomo and his father.
Here's how the governor responded:
"I know Todd Howe. I've known him for many years. He worked for nano. He's worked on a lot of these projects. I've always said that. But it's also irrelevant," Cuomo said. "If anyone does anything improper, they will be punished to the full extent of the law. Period. I was the attorney general of the state of New York. I put people in jail. Public integrity is job one."
McAndrew points out all the reports of Howe's proximity to Cuomo and his circle:
Published media reports have revealed that Howe paid for a Cuomo campaign fundraiser on Dec. 14 at the Fort Orange Club in Albany.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that Howe exchanged emails with some of Cuomo's top aides.
On May 26, agents with state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office executed a search warrant at an office at SUNY Polytechnic Institute, and a college spokesman disclosed that the room had been used by Howe, who was a lobbyist for SUNY Poly. Schneiderman's office is investigating possible bid rigging on a SUNY Polytechnic contract.
Howe was captured in an October 2012 photo with the governor as Cuomo toured economic development projects in Syracuse. 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.
Holding a fundraiser for the governor last December, engaging in back-and-forth emails with Cuomo's top aides in which he declares himself on the same "team," showing up at Cuomo economic development project photo ops as part of the Cuomo contingent - but Todd Howe's nothing to Cuomo and his associates.
This jive Cuomo spews about public integrity being job one is fooling the public, which either isn't paying attention to the massive investigation into the Cuomo administration or believes Cuomo's nonsense about integrity, but you can bet it isn't fooling investigators.
The connections between Howe and Cuomo and Company are pretty plain.
Perhaps Preet and Company will get to the bottom of them.