Cuomo Says He Had No Idea About Anything That Was in the State Corruption Complaint
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- The governor tried to make a few things clear during his visit to Buffalo Friday. First, he had no knowledge of the allegations laid out in a 79 page federal complaint.
"The situations that are laid out in the complaint were breathtaking to me when I read them," Gov. Andrew Cuomo said.
Reporters questioned Cuomo on how that could be true when people so close to his administration were implicated in a corruption scandal involving Upstate development projects, people like SUNY Polytechnic Institute President Alain Kaloyeros, the state's highest paid employee.
"Alain Kaloyeros has worked for five governors. Alain Kaloyeros was at SUNY in the 80s, served Governor Spitzer, Governor Patterson, Governor Pataki," Cuomo fired back.
Cuomo announced Friday, he has turned over projects under the purview of SUNY Polytech to Empire State Development. He believes a major issue was the process by which SUNY was awarding bids.
"It was in place, it was working well and there had been no complaints in the process. Now we find that there were flaws in the process," he said.
The governor said the state has reviewed the process and ESD will take the recommendations as it develops a new one. He also pointed out much of the alleged corruption was happening at "secondary and tertiary" levels. That included accusations against his former aide Joe Percoco.
"Joe Percoco has been a long-time friend of mine, long-time friend of my family," Cuomo said. "I know him about 25 years. My father's known him since he's been 19 years old. I said my father would be heartbroken if he read that complaint."
The governor spent the rest of the time assuring people his flagship development initiative, the Buffalo Billion, was not tainted. In fact he doubled down, asking ESD President Howard Zemsky to develop Phase 2 of the initiative.
"Start with a plan and what you want to accomplish. Don't get a number. Don't get him coming up with a number. Come up with a plan first and then we'll see," Cuomo said.
He said he'd like Zemsky to develop the plan in the next three months so he can include it in his January State of the State address.