Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued his first public comments since his former top aide and other former associates were indicted on corruption charges just before Thanksgiving.
Joe Percoco — regarded as a “third son” by the current governor’s father, Mario Cuomo — is charged with extortion and bribery, while the former head of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros, is charged with bid-rigging in connection with major upstate economic development projects, including the Buffalo Billion.
Six others also have been charged, including three executives of Buffalo-based development firm LPCiminelli. Another, former lobbyist and Cuomo ally Todd Howe, already has pleaded guilty to several counts.
Cuomo calls it “sad.”
“It’s sad to me personally,” Cuomo said. “We’re implementing reforms to make sure situations like that don’t happen again.”
The governor is pressing the Legislature to come back for a special session in December to enact procurement reforms, among other things. In exchange, he said they likely can have a pay raise.
A spokesman for the state Assembly said reports that a special session may be imminent are “not true.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who brought the charges against Cuomo’s former top aide and other associates, confirmed after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump that he will be keeping his job when the new administration takes over in January. Bharara said that he presumes Trump asked him to stay because of the “great work” his office has been doing.
“I agreed to stay on”, said Bharara on C-span, who said he would continue to work “independently, without fear of favor.”
Bharara also successfully prosecuted both former leaders of the legislature on corruption charges. They both face long prison terms.
New York's senior U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, who originally recommended Bharara, a former staffer, for the post, says he's "glad" Bharara is staying on.
"He’s been one of the best U.S. Attorneys New York has ever seen,” Schumer said.