Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday that if ongoing investigations into two of his former aides find evidence of misconduct he will be “the first to throw the book at them.”
The Democratic governor said he will wait for the outcomes of multiple investigations of Joe Percoco and Todd Howe before formulating an opinion.
Percoco is Cuomo’s former executive secretary and campaign manager. Howe is a lobbyist who used to work for Cuomo when he led the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Percoco and Howe are under federal scrutiny for possible conflicts of interest and improper bidding related to Cuomo’s upstate economic development programs. Cuomo has also announced an internal investigation by his administration.
“If something improper was done then we want to ensure the proper action is taken,” Cuomo said. “There are rules. People know the rules. They are very clear. They are very precise. And people should follow the rules.”
Percoco was the governor’s executive secretary until early January. In 2014, he took a leave of absence from government to work for Cuomo’s campaign and consult for companies that did business with the state. Cuomo has said Percoco told him he might accept consulting contracts while he was on the leave the absence but he didn’t ask Percoco to identify the clients, a move he defended Tuesday.
As a state employee, “the onus is on you” to follow the rules, he said.
As a lobbyist, Howe represented developers with business before the state.
The governor said he was unaware of Howe’s past financial and legal problems, which included a 2003 bankruptcy, nearly $400,000 in federal tax liens and judgments and a guilty plea to a felony theft charge after he was accused of making a false bank deposit of $45,000.
As a lobbyist, Howe’s clients included companies that have received contracts from the state related to Cuomo’s economic development initiatives.
“I wouldn’t call us close friends,” Cuomo said. “But he worked for the state for a number of years. But I had no knowledge of his personal situation.”