A Brief History Of Past Cuomo Scandals And Controversies


Governor Andrew Cuomo is now preventing for his political life, embroiled in two unrelated scandals. One issues his oversight of nursing properties, and the way his administration withheld information on coronavirus deaths there. That is reportedly the topic of a federal investigation.

Quickly, Cuomo will face one other investigation from a legislation agency deputized by the State Lawyer Common, Letitia James, which is able to probe no less than three sexual harassment allegations made towards him.

For these uninitiated to New York State authorities, these scandals could look like outliers. If the response to them has been unusually charged—wall-to-wall nationwide protection that has made Cuomo, as soon as extra, a family identify throughout the pandemic—their existence isn’t distinctive. All through Cuomo’s decade in workplace, there have been a number of main scandals and controversies that attracted exterior condemnation and even federal indictments. Listed below are simply 5.

The Moreland Fee

Governors often arrive in Albany promising to scrub up corruption, solely to run right into a tradition of secrecy and pay-to-play that transcends generations. Cuomo’s first profitable gubernatorial marketing campaign, in 2010, emphasised good authorities: because the state’s lawyer normal, Cuomo vowed to be an impartial, transformational pressure who would change how Albany operates.

In 2013, Cuomo created a particular fee of investigators to root out corruption in Albany. Often known as the Moreland Fee, it might be, by Cuomo’s vow, “completely impartial” and free to pursue wrongdoing wherever in state authorities.

“We should root out corruption in politics and authorities,” Cuomo stated when he impaneled the fee. The fee, he promised, would “convene the most effective minds in legislation enforcement and public coverage from throughout New York to deal with weaknesses within the States public corruption, election and marketing campaign finance legal guidelines, generate transparency and accountability, and restore the general public belief.”

However the actuality was fairly totally different: when the Moreland investigators, trying to find violations of marketing campaign finance legal guidelines, issued a subpoena to a agency that had positioned hundreds of thousands of {dollars}’ value of commercials for the State Democratic Social gathering, a prime Cuomo aide, Lawrence Schwartz, referred to as a co-chair of the fee and advised him to drag again the investigation. The agency had counted Cuomo as a shopper when he ran for governor.

Cuomo would dismantle the fee in 2014, lower than a 12 months into its existence, after it started investigating doable corruption tied to the chief department. The choice was abrupt, surprising good authorities teams and ethics watchdogs.

Cuomo’s resolution to shut the fee would immediate an investigation from Preet Bharara, the hard-charging U.S. Lawyer for the Southern District. In 2016, Bharara launched an announcement that his workplace had discovered “inadequate proof to show a federal crime.” The Moreland Fee did bear different fruit: Bharara efficiently indicted and secured convictions of the 2 highly effective legislative leaders in Albany, Meeting Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Majority Chief Dean Skelos, on corruption expenses.

However Bharara was not performed with these closest to Cuomo.

Joe Percoco

Joe Percoco was so near Andrew Cuomo that he proclaimed, on the funeral of his father, former New York Governor Mario Cuomo, that Mario seen Percoco as a “third son.” An aide to each Cuomo governors, Percoco was often called an extension of every man, an enforcer who may wrangle lawmakers, symbolize the state on vital enterprise, and encourage concern in those that crossed the Cuomo administration. Percoco, on any given day, may deal with absolutely anything for the governor, from establishing occasions to retaining observe of which politicians deserved, in Cuomo’s eyes, retribution.

One state senator, Liz Krueger, revealed just lately that Cuomo deputized Percoco to berate so many various officers in state authorities that he maintained a “do-not-yell-at” record for a choose few folks. “I responded, ‘You folks have such a listing?’” Krueger advised the New York Occasions. “He stated: ‘It is extremely small.’”

Joe Percoco, center, a former executive deputy secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, leaves federal court in New York in 2016.


Joe Percoco, heart, a former government deputy secretary to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, leaves federal court docket in New York in 2016.

Craig Ruttle/AP/Shutterstock

Bharara by no means indicted Cuomo, however he was in a position to reel in Percoco, who served as government deputy secretary to the Governor. In 2018, Percoco was discovered responsible of soliciting and accepting greater than $300,000 in bribes from executives working for 2 firms with state enterprise in return for taking actions to profit the companies. A lot of the particular cash got here from a “low-show” job given to his spouse by an vitality agency that wished to construct an influence plant within the Hudson Valley.

Percoco was sentenced to 6 years in jail. In an announcement on the time, Cuomo stated his closest aide was “paying the worth for violating the general public belief.”

“And it ought to function a warning to anybody who fails to uphold his or her oath as a public servant,” Cuomo continued. “On a private stage, the human tragedy for Joe’s younger youngsters and household is a really unhappy consequence.”

The Buffalo Billion

After dropping Western New York within the 2010 normal election to a right-wing, incendiary actual property developer named Carl Paladino, Cuomo was wanting to win Buffalo within the subsequent election. As a part of an effort to revive Western New York and win over voters there, Cuomo vowed to speculate state cash within the ailing metropolis.

Cuomo introduced a $1 billion financial bundle, often called the Buffalo Billion. The cash led to upgrades, like new waterfront parks, fashionable factories, and medical and know-how amenities. The person picked to spearhead all of it was named Alain Kaloyeros, who Cuomo as soon as known as “New York’s secret weapon.” He oversaw, particularly, the most important venture: a $750 million solar-panel plant.

Kaloyeros, the founding father of SUNY Polytechnic Institute, got here into the crosshairs of federal prosecutors. He earned an $800,000 state wage, drove a Ferrari with the license plate “Dr. Nano,” and repeatedly boasted about his wealth and political connections on Fb whereas posting misogynistic memes. None of this conduct ever drew a public rebuke from Cuomo.

He was later, in 2018, sentenced to three ½ years in jail for his function in a bid-rigging scheme that steered greater than $850 million in state-funded contracts to Cuomo allies.

A federal jury discovered Kaloyeros rigged the method to make sure contracts went to politically related builders LPCiminelli and COR Improvement. Each had been main donors to Cuomo’s campaigns. Cuomo, nevertheless, was by no means charged within the case.

Regardless of his shut relationship with Kaloyeros, Cuomo instantly distanced himself when his ally was convicted. “This was underneath the State College system. There’s a separate board referred to as the SUNY board. This was a subsidiary of the SUNY board, so SUNY was primarily chargeable for supervising these entities,” Cuomo advised reporters. “Earlier than you get to me, there’s 57 ranges, proper?”

The Impartial Democratic Convention

In 2011, throughout Cuomo’s first 12 months in workplace, 4 Democrats within the State Senate broke away to kind their very own third convention referred to as the Impartial Democratic Convention. On the time, the lawmakers expressed frustration with the mainstream Democrats, who had been reeling from corruption scandals and chaotic battles over management. The 4, led by State Senator Jeff Klein, an influence dealer within the Bronx, had been largely much less liberal than their colleagues, with nearer relationships to the true property business and the constitution college sector. With Republicans in full management of the higher chamber, their machinations had been little greater than an Albany curiosity.

That modified within the fall of 2012,when Democrats received sufficient seats to chase Republicans from energy within the State Senate. Most political observers anticipated Klein and his cohort to rejoin the Democratic convention, or no less than kind a power-sharing settlement with them, to manipulate within the majority.

As an alternative, Cuomo reportedly inspired Klein behind-the-scenes to kind an alliance with the Republicans to maintain them within the majority. The consequence was an unprecedented coalition-government that made each Klein and the Republican chief, Dean Skelos, the bulk leaders of the Senate. Cuomo reportedly performed a direct function within the IDC-GOP partnership, although he publicly professed neutrality. Cuomo didn’t assault Klein publicly and didn’t use his monumental marketing campaign battle chest to assist Democrats when he ran for re-election in 2014.

The IDC wielded nice energy—by retaining Republicans in control of the Senate, they assured progressive objectives like stronger hire legal guidelines, felony justice reforms, and abortion protections would by no means turn into a actuality so long as the coalition existed. Tenant advocates had been significantly pissed off, making an attempt and failing to avoid wasting rent-stabilized housing from additional deregulation. Klein and Cuomo, who each fundraised aggressively from actual property builders, took no motion on tenant protections.

In 2018, progressive main challengers emerged towards the IDC members, who had grown their convention to eight. Six of them had been defeated in an anti-Trump backlash and the convention was successfully disbanded. A 12 months later, with Democrats again in energy, most of the long-sought progressive objectives, significantly on repealing emptiness deregulate, had been achieved. Cuomo had far fewer methods to frustrate the Democratic majority.

Governor Andrew Cuomo in the Canarsie Tunnel


Governor Andrew Cuomo within the L prepare’s Canarsie Tunnel between Brooklyn and Manhattan.

Governor’s Workplace


There was no criminality or Republican empowerment right here: merely neglect and inefficiency. Although many residents of New York Metropolis don’t notice this, the subway system is managed by the state authorities, not Metropolis Corridor. Metropolis subways belong to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, a statewide authority that additionally operates the commuter rail strains and buses.

The mayor of New York Metropolis, whether or not it’s Invoice de Blasio or anybody else, can appoint members to the MTA board, however has no important function within the decision-making of the authority. The governor, Cuomo, appoints the MTA’s chair and a plurality of board members. Virtually each governor, till Cuomo, handled the MTA and the subway system as their direct duty.

That modified in 2017. For years, the subway system had been on the decline, with observe signaling know-how courting again to the Nineteen Thirties. The system each lacked funds for critical upgrades and suffered from outstanding inefficiencies that Cuomo, as governor, had performed nothing to appropriate. In New York, the price of constructing new subway infrastructure far outstripped what different cities paid world wide, due partly to a scarcity of aggressive bidding on tasks. Cuomo by no means tried to reform the method.

Within the spring and summer time of 2017, the subways broke down repeatedly, resulting in crowded trains and lots of delays. Although Cuomo had proudly lower the ribbon on the Second Avenue Subway simply months earlier, he proclaimed, towards all accessible proof, he was not in control of the subways in any respect. One way or the other, although, he was in a position to declare a “state of emergency” for the MTA.

Cuomo deputized his MTA chair, Joe Lhota, to make a authorized argument that New York Metropolis itself was chargeable for the subway system, although no accessible professional agreed with this interpretation. “That’s by no means been the understanding for the reason that MTA was created,” Richard Ravitch, who’s credited with rescuing the MTA from its nadir within the Eighties, advised Politico.

Lhota’s tenure as MTA chairman was ethically fraught. Whereas operating the MTA, he concurrently served on the board of the Madison Sq. Backyard Firm, which controls Madison Sq. Backyard. The World’s Most Well-known Area sits atop Penn Station and two subway stations, all managed by the MTA. Lhota was quietly pressured to resign.

Cuomo would go on to rent Andy Byford in 2017, a well-regarded British transit professional, to supervise the turnaround of the subways. Cuomo repeatedly overruled and interfered with Byford’s work, lastly prompting his resignation in February 2020.

In an interview with CBS New York weeks after his departure, Byford stated Cuomo’s undermining had made his job “insupportable” and accused Cuomo of intentionally excluding him from necessary conferences and choices, in addition to upbraiding his employees.

“It’s the governor’s prerogative to see whomever he desires, I get that, however I simply wouldn’t settle for the truth that my folks had been being yelled at, they had been being given route and I used to be intentionally excluded from these conferences,” Byford advised reporter Marcia Kramer. “That’s simply not proper.”