El Chapo used the same communications method as the Cuomo administration pic.twitter.com/gTlHQQsc9v
— Bill Mahoney (@mahoneyw) January 10, 2016
Despite the untraceable communications he used, El Chapo was brought down by arrogance, with authorities tracing him post-prison breakout after the drug lord began holding talks to have a movie based upon his life made.
Similarly, Cuomo may be brought down by arrogance despite the untraceable communications and other games he and his administration have used to avoid scrutiny of their inner doings.
Pro Publica summed up all the shenanigans Cuomo has played here - they include not only using untraceable Blackberry PIN messaging to communicate with aides, but also redacting FOILed documents so heavily as to render them unreadable, a policy that purged emails after 90 days, Cuomo aides using personal accounts to conduct government business (and thus avoiding FOIL issues), and ignoring FOIL requests they don't like (such as around Cuomo's fundraising and donors.)
Despite Cuomo administration attempts to avoid scrutiny of inner administration doings, there are two reported federal investigations related to the governor going on.
The first has the feds reportedly investigating the Cuomo administration for tampering into the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, including Cuomo administration officials putting the kibosh on subpoenas to or investigations of the governor's donors during the commission's work.
The second has the feds investigating Cuomo's signature Buffalo Billion Project economic development program, with subpoenas having gone out to Cuomo donors and state entities involved in the bidding process.
In addition, US Attorney Preet Bharara, who has taken down both former Assembly Speaker Shelly Silver and former Majority Leader Dean Skelos on corruption convictions, has refused to let Cuomo off the hook publicly, repeatedly refusing to say whether he's targeting Cuomo for corruption.
Don't think Cuomo's not aware he's got trouble - this Buffalo News piece with a "state official" who sounds suspiciously like Cuomo himself providing hours of interview time and dozens of documents to News reporter Tom Precious in order to defend himself and his administration against charges of a corrupt bidding process (see more here and here) suggests otherwise.
It's also easy to see Cuomo's frenetic January activity, with multiple daily announcements about his 2016 agenda occurring in different parts of the state, as Cuomo looking to distract from the federal investigations into his administration and his donors, as Baruch College political science professor Douglas Muzzio noted on social media:
Cuomo's Moses-like agenda = laying markers in face of Preet threat?
— Douglas Muzzio (@musingmuttering) January 9, 2016
Our friend in Buffalo Sean Crowley had similar thoughts after Cuomo announced multiple gazillion dollar transit projects (if you're scoring at home, Cuomo has proposed $65 billion in transit and transportation projects):
It really does look like this guy is feverishly flailing to establish some good guy cred any and everywhere before Preet drops the hammer on him. Maybe if he hadn't spent the last 3 decades or so as a belligerent prick he wouldn't be playing such a furious game of catch up now. It is fun to watch.
Indeed, it is fun to watch.
For a long, long time he has thought himself untouchable, the Sheriff of Albany who could claim to be cleaning up all the capital corruption while actually residing at the center of it all, sucking up millions in LLC loophole donations and paying back donors with development projects and millions in tax breaks.
But suddenly, after the Silver and Skelos convictions, those activities go from "business as usual" in Albany to perhaps a very big legal problem for the governor.
Thus all this vigorous agenda activity, with Cuomo everywhere and anywhere to announce another goodie for another constituency?
It sure seems like it.
Here was Cuomo yesterday, on yet another imploding the old bandstand at the state fairgrounds, while also announcing $200 million for upstate airports:
Bam. Great use of Vine by @NYGovCuomo for implosion at state fairgrounds in SYR. https://t.co/4OqICIuWvW #PR
— Dave Armon (@daveyarmon) January 9, 2016
If the US attorney follows the pattern with Cuomo that he's used on Silver and Skelos in the past (leak, leak, leak...criminal charges) that video will be a fantastic emblem for the Cuomo administration and Cuomo's political career.
It's hard to say whether Bharara really will take Cuomo down or whether he's just screwing with him, dangling him out there to twist slowly in the wind.
But given the frenetic pre-2016 state of the state/budget address activity Cuomo's engaging in and the $65 billion (yup - that's "billion" with a "b") in transportation and transit projects he's proposing for the state, something weird seems to be going on behind those beady eyes and that glassy stare he's got.
Might it be that soon he and his fellow Blackbery Messenger user, El Chapo, will have more in common than just communication methods?