Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, September 23, 2016

Andrew Cuomo Is Either Corrupt Or Incompetent

That's Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin reacting to the various criminal charges levied against nine individuals with connections to Governor Andrew Cuomo yesterday, including Cuomo's former top aide and all-around fixer, Joseph Percoco.

When you look closely at the criminal complaint unsealed yesterday, you notice that McLaughlin has an excellent point.

Percoco started soliciting bribes and favors even before his boss, Andrew, was elected governor and Cuomo himself was never far from the action, as this NY Times account makes clear:

Though rarely mentioned in the federal complaint, Mr. Cuomo hovers in the background of the narrative of his former aides’ misdeeds — and some of the more embarrassing revelations. Proximity to the governor and the executive chamber were the currency in which both Mr. Howe and Mr. Percoco traded, often by invoking Mr. Cuomo’s name or exploiting his presence.

In October 2010, for example, as Mr. Cuomo was running for governor, Peter Galbraith Kelly, Jr., chief lobbyist for a power company that was seeking state assistance for its plant in the Hudson Valley, arranged for the company to donate a private jet to fly Mr. Cuomo and his staff to campaign events, the complaint says. It was all part of Mr. Kelly’s bid to ingratiate himself with Mr. Percoco, according to the complaint, as it became increasingly apparent that Mr. Cuomo would be elected.

At various points, the complaint says, Mr. Howe and Mr. Percoco referred to generous donors and clients of Mr. Howe’s as “friends,” short for “friends of the governor” — people who, it seemed, could expect special treatment from the governor’s inner circle. In March 2015, according to the complaint, Mr. Howe and Mr. Percoco set up a meeting for Mr. Kelly with the governor’s secretary, a central figure in the executive chamber.

“As Joe told you, Braith is ‘family,’” Mr. Howe wrote to the secretary, referring to Mr. Kelly’s nickname, the complaint says.

In early 2014, Steven Aiello, president of the Syracuse-area developer COR Development Company, another “friend” and major donor to Mr. Cuomo, was scheduled to meet with Mr. Percoco at the governor’s office in Midtown Manhattan, according to the complaint. Mr. Howe emailed Mr. Percoco, employing an affectionate nickname the two men often used for each other, “Herb,” and dropping in a “Sopranos” reference to ziti as a slang for money: “Lay it on thick, govs loves you … Lay it on heAvy Herbie! Zitti herb! Zitti!!”

Thus prompted, the complaint continues, Mr. Percoco replied that he might have Mr. Cuomo drop by the meeting to say hello. Mr. Howe told investigators that Mr. Percoco did this so he could pressure Mr. Aiello later for more bribes.

The governor’s name came up again in September 2015, according to the complaint, when Mr. Aiello complained to Mr. Howe that he had not been invited to attend Mr. Cuomo’s events during a planned trip to Syracuse. After Mr. Percoco intervened, Mr. Aiello was asked to give the governor a tour of a new hotel he was building in the city.

The coziness depicted in the complaint makes it difficult for some to believe that Mr. Cuomo did not know something was amiss.

“It’s unrealistic with an adviser that was this close to the governor, that the governor doesn’t know what was going on,” said Doug Kellogg, a spokesman for Reclaim New York, a good-government group. Or, if Mr. Cuomo truly did not know, Mr. Kellogg added, “It’s a sign that he’s not minding the store.”

The line out today from Cuomo shills is that Cuomo was clean while he was betrayed by his friends, associates and donors in these matters, but he will now use these betrayals as impetus to push for a cleaner Albany.

But that line is horseshit.

Either Cuomo knew part or all of what was going on under his nose and chose to look the other way (how about those "free" private jet flights back in October 2010, Andy?) or he didn't know and was a) a terrible judge of the character of the people around him and b) incompetent in his stewardship of his administration and its signature economic initiatives (which appear to have been run more to line the pockets of his friends, associates and donors than actually provide any economic development.)

Given Cuomo's reputation as a micromanager with his fingers on everything going on around him, it's difficult to believe Cuomo didn't have some inkling of the games Percoco, Howe, Kaloyeros, et al. were playing and the money and favors that were rolling their way.

Yesterday U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was asked if the governor was in any trouble for any of this and he replied with a statement that basically said "No - not yet, at any rate":

“What I can say at this moment is that there are no allegations of any wrongdoing or misconduct by the governor anywhere in this complaint. That’s all I’m going to say.”

That's not exactly a clean bill of health for the governor from the U.S. attorney and while multiple outlets have run stories today with the headline that Cuomo's skating on criminal charges while many around him are not, there remains the possibility that one or more of those guys arrested yesterday decides to tell tales on the governor and give a blueprint for where all the bodies are buried in the Cuomo administration.

Even if that doesn't happen, Cuomo ought to be finished politically, as it's quite clear that his "effective" and "ethical" stewardship of the state government is neither of those things.

But as is always the case with Cuomo, he's searching for ways to survive and thrive - thus an appearance in Buffalo today and the line out of his shills about how Cuomo will use these arrests as motivation to clean up state government.

He cannot be allowed to get away with that nonsense.

Andrew Cuomo was either complicit in the corruption in his administration or he was ignorant of it, in which case he is an incompetent fool.

The only way the cesspool that is Albany gets even a bit cleaner from all the corruption is when Andrew Cuomo is finally shown the door and kicked out of office and power.


  1. The problems here are the same as they have always been in the Preet .v Cuomo showdown:

    1) Cuomo will have no actual fingerprints anywhere on any of this. Its all implicit, for sure, but there will be NO bodies in his yard. No fingerprints from his hand. No wire-tap recording with his voice. The bar is stupid-high for nailing him. Bodies, prints, and recordings of Cuomo saying "this for that" are the only bar. Ridiculous. But thats the world we live in.

    2) None of these people will talk re. Cuomo. They will not bring him down. They just wont. They will talk, surely, but they are super-aware and super-prepared for this. They know precisely how to say things but not say the exact things that will be actionable by Preet. One must understand Cuomo in not only the context of machine politics so famous in NY State, but also organized crime. Cuomo and these people are clearly a mafia-type organization.....but of the earlier type not the later 1980s-present type. These people won't chirp. They will make noises that sound like chirping, but it won't ever ding Cuomo.

    3) All evidence is pointing to the fact that a Hillary Clinton presidential administration WILL NOT keep Preet on. Preet's days are numbered. Clinton will move Preet elsewhere and the heat will miraculously evaporate for Cuomo. I'm not saying that this will be just because of Clinton's friendship with Cuomo......but it will certainly be a part of it. And its a zero-risk thing for Clinton. No matter how many people it will anger in NY politics (probably not many actually) NY State is and always will be a solid lock for her. So Preet is gone. It will end with these folks.

    1. I hope you are wrong. (probably not though)

    2. That's why it's incumbent upon us to make the political damage stick to Cuomo. He's already looking to start undoing that today w/ the Buffalo announcement.

    3. RBE,
      Absolutely. The Teachout campaign of last year should have taught every New Yorker that even the most entrenched of machines is able to be threatened. (If only NYSUT endorsed.....)

      That said, a big challenge for us in the state is how Cuomo (machine-like) ties up block votes of certain groups. Its a precise calculation about certain block groups. Note any administration policy or enforcement in certain areas of Orange and Sullivan Counties as well as parts of Brooklyn in the year or so prior to an election for example. Telling.

      The big, super-reliable blocks of voters he can claim on election day are the real challenge and they seem somewhat resistant to judging him in regards to his shady friends and their indictments.

      Its a heavy-lift for sure in NY State politics, but doable. Teachout showed that. She showed us that machine/block-voting politics can be defeated with block-voting politics....meaning, if every teacher in NYS voted for her, or simply if NYSUT endorsed her, she'd have won. Its our only real power.

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  2. Cuomo is protected by the Obama-Clinton crime syndicate.

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