According to Fred Dicker of the NY Post, it's not working:
Gov. Cuomo’s renewed effort to distance himself from lobbyist and longtime associate Todd Howe flies in the face of Howe’s continuous role as a member of Cuomo’s “inner circle,” a source close to US Attorney Preet Bharara’s corruption probe told The Post.
“From the start, when Cuomo took office, Todd was part of the inner circle of decision makers. He was basically part of the Cuomo administration,” said the source, who has first-hand knowledge of Bharara’s investigation.
“Todd was a coequal to Joe Percoco and Howard Glaser and absolutely seen as the governor’s guy, even though he wasn’t on the state payroll and officially part of the government.
“For Cuomo to suggest otherwise is ridiculous.”
Percoco, Cuomo’s once-powerful deputy secretary and one of his closest friends, is being investigated by Bharara over money he received from state contractors while running the governor’s re-election campaign in 2014. Glaser is Cuomo’s former state operations director.
The source said Glaser’s successor, James Malatras, regularly deferred to Howe when it came to decision-making, acting as if Howe “was his superior.”
“Howe has been regularly dispatched by the governor as a handler on many issues over many years,’’ the source said.
I dunno how close this "source close to US Attorney Preet Bharara's corruption probe" really is, but I'm not at all surprised that the feds investigating Howe are aware of the proximity Howe had to the governor and the power he held in the administration.
As we learned last week, Cuomo's current Director of State Operations, Jim Malatras, considered Howe part of the "Cuomo Team," saying so in an email in which Howe and he discussed how to get SUNY Poly head Alain Kaloyeros to act according to Cuomo's wishes.
Howe, though not paid by the state or SUNY, simultaneously had offices in Cuomo's 2014 re-election campaign apparatus and at SUNY Polytechnic (was raided two weeks ago as part of the probe.)
The raid of Howe's office was just one part of a much wider investigation into Cuomo's administration.
The public may not be paying much attention to any of this and may think Cuomo is an ethical prince, but you can bet Preet has been paying attention and will not be similarly fooled by any of the governor's jive.
As Fred LeBrun wrote in Yesterday's Times Union:
The governor is dancing as fast as he can to deflect attention from himself over the broadening scandal engulfing his administration, eventually reality will catch up. He can pretend the federal investigation is really only focused on "a couple of people" who were once very close to him but now he barely knows, and everything else is fine. But in all likelihood that is not the way it's going to play out.
No state administration in living memory has been embroiled more deeply in a federal investigation of how it does business than Andrew Cuomo's. That, in spite of the fact that Cuomo is a lawyer, and there appear to be far more lawyers per capita in the political state workforce now than ever before.
Let's repeat: No state administration in living memory has been embroiled more deeply in a federal investigation of how it does business than Andrew Cuomo's.
Again, nothing Cuomo says to the cameras will make that reality go way and eventually, when the indictments come down (and they will - Cuomo's men Todd Howe, Joe Percoco and Alain Kaloyeros are as good as done), the public that thinks he's an ethical prince now (see link above) will learn the truth of Andrew Cuomo and how he operates.