ALBANY — The federal probe of New York development initiatives is broader than the Buffalo Billion projects, the highest-profile piece of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s upstate economic strategy.
Investigators have subpoenaed the governor’s office for records of communications with about 20 companies, a source confirmed, that were involved in projects in Buffalo as well as in Syracuse, Albany and the Hudson Valley. They’ve sought communications from high-ranking Cuomo officials, including Bill Mulrow, the governor’s secretary and top adviser; Jim Malatras, the director of state operations; and Gil Quinones, head of the New York Power Authority, the source said.
Beyond the governor’s office, investigators have subpoenaed agencies that regulate solar power and implement solar initiatives, the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, which has been the guiding force in a number of state-backed high-tech ventures, and Empire State Development Corp., the state’s economic-development arm.
The named companies have been engaged in ventures ranging from a major solar-panel factory in Buffalo to a film hub in Syracuse to a dormitory in Albany to a power plant in Orange County. They also touch on a proposed “inland port” and redeveloping an old NYNEX building in Syracuse and loft apartments in Albany.
The companies, according to a source and to companies that have acknowledged separate subpoenas, include: six full-service development and real estate companies, three real estate firms, three engineering/architecture firms, two manufacturers, two lobbying firms, a power-plant company, a construction firm and a cellphone tower/communications company.
And the companies:
Cuomo has said repeatedly that the investigation is only focused on two of his former aides, Joe Percoco and Todd Howe, but given the multiple reports we have that the investigation is looking far and wide into Cuomo's economic development programs (see here and here, for another example), that Cuomo assertion is absurd.
In addition, there's a reported pattern of bid rigging in state contracts, with proposals written in such a way that only a specific contractor - always a Cuomo donor - can win them.
Subpoenas have gone out to the entities and individuals involved in those contractual relationships, and while it's possible that it was only Percoco and Howe pulling these shenanigans, given the number of subpoenas that have gone out, that seems unlikely.
A source close to the investigation told Fred Dicker that the public will hear something about all of this in July or August.
For now, Cuomo's got the public thinking he's an ethical prince, but given the scope and breadth of this investigation, it's very likely that when arrests come - and they will - Cuomo's going to have some very bad news cycles.