Cuomo avoids ques­tions about in­dict­ments

The gover­nor stays mum on the is­sue dur­ing his first ap­pear­ance since sev­eral aides and donors were charged.

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - FRONT PAGE - By Kyle Hughes NYSNYS News

Gov. An­drew Cuomo avoided reporters af­ter a stop in the Cap­i­tal Dis­trict on Tues­day, his first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since sev­eral of his for­mer top aides and cam­paign donors were in­dicted on cor­rup­tion charges a week ago.

Sur­rounded by State Po­lice body­guards, Cuomo left quickly af­ter speak­ing at a morn­ing event at Proc­tors Theater with Ju­lian Cas­tro, Pres­i­dent Obama’s out­go­ing sec­re­tary of Hous­ing and Ur­ban De­vel­op­ment, the same post Cuomo held un­der Pres­i­dent Clin­ton.

Cuomo has had noth­ing to say about the in­dict­ments be­yond a brief state­ment his of­fice is­sued last week. He has not been charged with any crimes.

“As I said two months ago when the US At­tor­ney first made this case pub­lic, this is a pro­foundly sad sit­u­a­tion for me per­son­ally,” Cuomo said in a writ­ten state­ment given to reporters. “Now the jus­tice sys­tem must take its course, and any of those found guilty of abus­ing the pub­lic’s trust should and will be pun­ished.

“Changes need to be made to re­store faith at ev­ery level of gov­ern­ment. My ad­min­is­tra­tion has taken a num­ber of steps in the past sev­eral months to re­form the pro­cure­ment process, and has pro­posed ad­di­tional mea­sures for the Leg­is­la­ture to take up when they re­turn.”

On Tues­day, press aide Rich Az­zopardi said Cuomo had to leave but would try to take ques­tions from reporters in the next few days. Tues­day was Cuomo’s first pub­lic ap­pear­ance since Nov. 20, when he gave a speech at a New York City church crit­i­ciz­ing Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald Trump’s stance on il­le­gal im­mi­gra­tion.

Cuomo’s for­mer top aide Joe Per­coco, for­mer SUNY Poly Pres­i­dent Alain Kaloyeros, and a num­ber of busi­ness ex­ec­u­tives vy­ing for state con­tracts worth hun­dreds of mil­lions of dol­lars were in­dicted Novem­ber 22 on felony charges that could send them to prison for years.

The charges grew out of what pros­e­cu­tors say was a con­spir­acy to fix state con­tracts in ex­change for bribes and cam­paign dona­tions. A lob­by­ist with long­time times to the Cuomo fam­ily has al­ready pleaded guilty to all charges and is co­op­er­at­ing with pros­e­cu­tors.

Cuomo hasn’t has held a for­mal press con­fer­ence in Al­bany in more than a year, and hasn’t taken any ques­tions from reporters who cover state gov­ern­ment in Al­bany since last spring. He ap­pears to have had just four Q&A’s in Al­bany this year, the long­est last­ing 26 min­utes out­doors at the Court of Ap­peals in Fe­bru­ary.

Tues­day’s event was noth­ing out of the or­di­nary for Cuomo, who since Au­gust has been hold­ing a se­ries of re­gional sus­tain­abil­ity eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment con­fer­ences for lo­cal gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and non­prof­its look­ing for gov­ern­ment money.

He praised his ad­min­is­tra­tion’s use of tax­payer money to en­cour­age im­prove­ments in up­state com­mu­ni­ties, where he said the econ­omy “has been ter­ri­ble for decades,” one of this sig­na­ture themes since tak­ing of­fice in 2011.

“It drives the con­ser­va­tives crazy be­cause it is an­ti­thet­i­cal to the purest con­ser­va­tive be­lief,” Cuomo said tax­payer fund­ing for lo­cal projects. “The purest con­ser­va­tive be­lief is gov­ern­ment does not work, gov­ern­ment can­not sup­ple­ment what the pri­vate sec­tor has left be­hind and aban­doned. And gov­ern­ment can­not cor­rect poor peo­ple prob­lems or poor place prob­lems.

“The only thing gov­ern­ment can do is spend tax­payer money and make it worse.”

PHOTO PRO­VIDED BY NYSNYS NEWS

Gov. An­drew Cuomo and HUD Sec­re­tary Ju­lian Cas­tro back­stage at Proc­tors Theater on Tues­day.

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