Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Federal Probe Appears To Go Right At The Way Cuomo Administration Works

Scott Waldman at Politico NY:

ALBANY — U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s inquiry into the state Department of Public Service has broadened in recent days, according to sources with knowledge of the investigation.

A federal subpoena is now seeking all communication, including records of emails and in-person meetings, between senior state energy officials and top Cuomo administration officials, according to the sources. It seeks information on interactions between Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s former senior aide, Joseph Percoco, Department of Public Service chief of staff Tom Congdon, New York Power Authority president and CEO Gil Quiniones and Len Walker, who has worked as a director of special projects at NYPA.

The subpoena also seeks information about the organizational structure of the Department of Public Service from January 2012 to December 2015, sources said. That period includes most of the tenure of DPS head Audrey Zibelman, who was confirmed in June 2013. She is also chairwoman of the Public Service Commission.

Under Zibelman, Cuomo’s executive branch has taken a more direct role in the inner workings of the DPS and the decisions that come before the PSC, insiders say. At the behest of Cuomo, Zibelman is now conducting a series of investigations into energy companies in New York, including the Indian Point nuclear center. She is not named in the subpoena.

Cuomo wants you to think these investigations are only focusing on the malfeasance of two associates of his - he said so again yesterday:

Cuomo said the federal investigation is focusing on whether two people committed wrongdoing, his former deputy secretary Joseph Percoco, and lobbyist Todd Howe.
"I come from a tradition, started by my father, of 100 percent integrity in public service," Cuomo said.
"If there's any violation, I will be the first...I literally have put people in jail. No one is stricter than I am," he said.

But given the widening of the subpoena to include "all communication...between senior state energy officials and top Cuomo administration officials," it seems Bharara is looking at more than just malfeasance by Percoco and Howe.

And note that his investigation of DPS is looking at the "organizational structure" from January 2012 to December 2015, a time period when Cuomo subsumed much control of DPS through the hack he installed there, as well as that"decisions that come before the PSC."

That suggests Bharara's investigation has gone well beyond Percoco and Howe and right to the root of the way the Cuomo administration works - including the way Cuomo's executive branch seems to control decisions at entities that are allegedly independent of it.

In other Cuomo corruption news yesterday, Cuomo not only threw his two aides, Percoco and Howe, under the bus (as detailed in the quote above), but also Alain Kaloyeros at SUNY Polytechnic.

Cuomo was making an announcement in Syracuse when he was asked about the $325,000 in donations he took from one of the companies at the center of the U.S. attorney's investigation into his economic development programs:

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Wednesday he had no input into SUNY Polytechnic Institute awarding $100 million in contracts to his top campaign contributor in Central New York, COR Development.

He said the more than $325,000 in campaign contributions that COR Development, its executives and COR subsidiaries gave to him had no influence in the awarding of contracts to COR.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in April subpoenaed Cuomo's office for records related to contracts given to COR Development as part of the prosecutor's investigation into Cuomo's marquee economic development projects in Upstate New York.

Bharara, the prosecutor who has already won convictions against former Senate leader Dean Skelos and Assembly leader Sheldon Silver, has issued subpoenas for records related to the Buffalo Billion projects, state contracts with COR Development for Central New York projects, and for a controversial energy project in Orange County, among other things.

Cuomo said the federal investigation is focusing on whether two people committed wrongdoing, his former deputy secretary Joseph Percoco, and lobbyist Todd Howe.

"The way it worked...the state didn't do any of the contracts," Cuomo said when asked about the COR contracts and donations. "It's all done through SUNY, the state university system. They are the ones that actually managed the contracting process."

"They are the ones who ran the contracts, ran the competitions, made the selections," he said. "I had absolutely nothing to do with that."

"It was done by SUNY," the governor said.

Shorter Cuomo: Hey, nothing to do with me, look at Alain Kaloyeros, the head of SUNY Polytechnic,

And yet, look at all the money awarded to COR directly through Cuomo:

SUNY Polytechnic Institute is run by Alain Kaloyeros, the highest paid state employee at $1.1 million in 2015. A board of directors that ran a nonprofit subsidiary set up by SUNY Poly requested proposals to build a nanotechnology building in the Syracuse area.

COR Development was the only company to submit a bid. The SUNY Poly subsidiary awarded COR a $15 million contract to build the Central New York Hub for Emerging Nano Industries, commonly called the film hub, in DeWitt.

Cuomo then awarded Central New York a $500 million award as part of the Upstate Revitalization Initiative contest between seven Upstate regions.

From that award, Cuomo directed that $90 million be used to pay for another contract to COR, to build a factory for Soraa, an LED lighting manufacturer, adjacent to the film hub.

Through his annual awards to regional economic development councils, Cuomo has also approved state grants of about $4 million to COR to demolish the former Kennedy Square housing project in Syracuse and about $4 million to COR to redevelop the former Mercy Hospital site in Watertown.

Cuomo is throwing as many of his cronies as he can to the wolves in order to save himself - it's Percoco, it's Howe, it's Kaloyeros!

Doubtful that this kind of "Not me, them!" thing will fool federal investigators looking into all of this.

And with news coming almost weekly that the investigations into Cuomo's economic development programs are widening, it's doubtful too that Bharara is just looking at Percoco, Howe and Kaloyeros for malfeasance.

As the NY Times reported yesterday, the link between all of this is quite simple - Cuomo donors gave money to Cuomo, got contracts, grants, subsidies or state help in return.

That's at the center of all of this, and while Cuomo wants you to believe that if there's any malfeasance in the donors/state contracting relationship, it was conducted by his under-investigation associates, not him, that seems absurd.

If this kind of thing only happened once, twice, even three times - you might say, "Oh, OK, sure."

But it's pretty clear that this kind of thing happened again and again and again, with Cuomo donors giving money to Cuomo and getting contracts, grants, subsidies or state help in return.

At some point, the feds are going to say, "How is it this happened again and again and again and Cuomo didn't know?


  1. Cuomo's reflex to throw formerly-close associates under the bus may not work out too well if those folks are offered a plea bargain by Bharara.

    I've been skeptical about Bharara actually going after our reptilian governor, but the direction of the investigation seems to be inching closer and closer to him