Albany insiders have been rattled by the news that two of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s closest former aides are being targeted by a federal probe, multiple media reports said.
Joseph Percoco, who worked on Cuomo’s 2014 campaign, and then as his executive deputy secretary, left that post a few months ago to take a job with Madison Square Garden, the Daily News and other media outlets said.
He, and Todd Howe, another Cuomo confidant, are being looked at by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office for possible improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts of interest, according to the Daily News report.
Percoco may have made tens of thousands of dollars acting as a consultant for entities that do business with the state, the Daily News story said.
At issue is whether Percoco properly disclosed his outside income and whether he dealt with any state matters that directly affected consulting clients, multiple media outlets said.
According to buffalonews.com , the feds are focusing on Cuomo’s economic development initiative, Buffalo Billion, and other state projects.
The Daily News said sources told it that Howe, a Washington, D.C.-based lobbyist, is being investigated for his alleged role in making the connections between Percoco and those companies.
The Cuomo administration has hired Bart Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor, to look into the allegations.
The in-house lawyer released a statement last week in which he said the state “has reason to believe that in certain programs and regulatory approvals they may have been defrauded by improper bidding and failures to disclose potential conflicts of interest by lobbyists and former state employees.”
The state, Schwartz said, has directed him to review all grants and approvals in certain programs including Buffalo Billion.