Contact: Michael Fraser, (518) 455-3751
Federal charges are being levied against top Cuomo aide Joseph Percoco, the influential head of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, Alain Kaloyeros, and others for a series of alleged schemes that include fraud, bid-rigging and bribery; Kaloyeros is also facing felony corruption charges from the state. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman allege bids for economic development projects related to the "Buffalo Billion" were willfully and knowingly handed out as political favors.
The accused also reportedly took bribes in exchange for contract awards. Todd Howe, another former Cuomo aide, has already pleaded guilty to federal corruption charges and is cooperating with investigators. These programs are supposed to be about creating jobs and helping families- not insider deals that make political insiders rich.
The implications for New York taxpayers cannot be overstated. Officials and representatives, whether elected into office or acting as public servants, should be using their roles to respond to the needs of taxpayers, not yield to special interests in today's all too common pay-to-play atmosphere. The governor, the self-proclaimed crusader of transparency, should get off his high horse and demand answers and full cooperation into these and all other on-going investigations.
ASSEMBLY MINORITY CONFERENCE OFFERS TARGETED REFORMS
Assembly Minority members introduced legislation this year (A.10531, Oaks) to establish greater checks and balances in state discretionary spending. There is simply too much done behind closed doors. This legislation offers a much-needed step toward preventing the abuse of public money and trust. The Cuomo administration has been shrouded in secrecy from day one. It must now end, once and for all. The governor and those closest to him must stop going out of their way to make excuses for ill-conceived insider deals masked as economic development programs.
I have repeatedly called for greater transparency into administrative dealings and stronger laws to prevent public corruption. These latest allegations are further evidence that corruption has festered in Albany to the point that honest government is nearly unrecognizable amid widespread schemes.
TRANSPARENCY SHOULD NOT BE AN ABSTRACTION
More often than not, the notion of accountability is a nebulous concept. The details we are watching unfold before our eyes reek of greed and arrogance; we must demand two things: answerability and enforcement.
Sadly, even before these newest charges were levied, many of the governor's economic development programs were either being investigated, failing miserably, or both. His repeated failure to deliver honest, effective programs with taxpayer money is wholly inexcusable.
The foundation of a representative democracy is trust. Hardworking taxpayers give their money to the government and in return expect it to be invested in their well-being. These allegations paint a starkly grim picture; where taxpayer money is merely a tool for the selfish, personal gains of a corrupt few. When too few have too much power, we all suffer. Reforms are needed now.
What do you think? I want to hear from you. Send me your feedback, suggestions and ideas regarding this or any other issue facing New York State. You can always contact my district office at (315) 781-2030 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.