Gov. Cuomo Defends Former Aide Under Federal Investigation

Gov. Cuomo is defending a former aide and campaign manager who is under federal investigation.

Joseph Percoco was the Democratic governor's executive secretary until early January. In 2014, he took a leave of absence from government to work for Cuomo's campaign and for companies that did business with the state.

"I'm saying I've known Joe Percoco for many years and he's a good man and I'd be shocked if he did anything wrong, but let's get the facts and then we can make our own decisions," Cuomo said Monday night after attending the Association for a Better New York's annual Spirit of ABNY Awards in Manhattan.

"He was a consultant to my campaign during the time he was gone. He told me he might accept other consulting contracts. He then came back to state service after the campaign," Cuomo said. "When he came back to state service obviously he stopped representing those other clients."

Messages seeking comment from Percoco and his lawyer were not immediately returned.

Percoco's own disclosure documents show that in 2014 he received between $50,000 and 75,000 from COR Development and between $20,000 and $50,000 from CHA Consulting. At the same time, he was paid between $100,000 and $150,000 from the Cuomo campaign.

New York law prohibits state employees from financial conflicts of interest and trading on their official influence for personal gain.

Michael McGovern, a lawyer representing CHA Consulting, did not comment on Percoco's disclosure but told The New York Times that the company was cooperating with the U.S. attorney's office.

A spokeswoman for COR Development, Maggie Truax, told The Post-Standard on Saturday that it did not hire or pay any money to Percoco.

Cuomo also reiterated that former criminal prosecutor Bart Schwartz would conduct a "full internal review" into the matter.

On Friday, the governor announced that Schwartz had been hired to review the governor's upstate economic development initiative after learning that U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was investigating potential conflicts of interest and improper bidding regarding the Buffalo Billion initiative.

The Buffalo Billion centerpiece is a $750 million factory the state is building for SolarCity.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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