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On corruption, where does the buck stop 
in New York? (Commentary)
 
Special to syracuse.com
Updated Jun 6, 7:42 AM; Posted Jun 6, 7:41 AM  
 
Standing behind Gov. Andrew Cuomo in this cropped 2012 photo are Joseph Percoco, left, a top Cuomo aide, and lobbyist Todd Howe, right.
Standing behind Gov. Andrew Cuomo in this cropped 2012 photo are Joseph Percoco, 
left, a top Cuomo aide, and lobbyist Todd Howe, right. (Stephen Sartori)
 
Joseph Fahey, of Pompey, is a former Onondaga County Court judge. In 2017, he served as corporation counsel in Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner's administration.
 
By Joseph Fahey | Special to Syracuse.com
 
Last month, we saw another guilty verdict in the second trial of former New York State Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, who was convicted of official corruption.
Like Silver, former State Senate Leader, Dean Skelos, is scheduled to stand trial a second time on official corruption charges.
In March, a jury returned guilty verdicts against Cuomo's closest aide, Joseph Percoco, whom Cuomo has described as "Mario Cuomo's third son" and a local developer. Both were convicted of conspiracy to deprive the state of honest services.
The offenses involved the developer funneling money through a corrupt lobbyist named Todd Howe in exchange for favorable treatment on the Syracuse Inner Harbor Project and other favors.
A second trial involving charges of bid rigging is about to start with the same Syracuse developer, a Buffalo developer and Cuomo's handpicked head of SUNY Polytechnic institute who was charged with overseeing his "Buffalo Billion" projects.
The bid requirements for the various projects were drawn so narrowly that only these two developers could qualify for the jobs.
A similar bid-rigging scheme occurred in Albany involving another developer, who was a board member of the SUNY Polytechnic Foundation. Charges were dropped by the state Attorney General in exchange for his cooperation in state and federal investigations.
Most recently, the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan is investigating political contributions to Cuomo by a health care provider that was awarded a $25.4 million contract to build two health care facilities.
What is Cuomo's response to this cesspool of corruption?
Following the Percoco verdict, he proposed banning outside income for state legislators.
Apparently he overlooked the fact that Percoco was his closest aide in the Executive Chamber and not a member of the state Legislature.
In the budget that was passed this year, he withdrew his proposal to close the LLC political contribution loophole that allows these legal entities to contribute $65,100 to candidates as if they were individuals, rather than the $5,000 limit imposed on corporations.
There shouldn't be any surprise here. Of the $30 million in campaign cash that Cuomo's re-election campaign is sitting on, $16.5 million came from LLCs.
Since becoming governor, he has raised more from the LLCs than all 213 of the state legislators combined.
In the wake of the latest investigation into the health care provider, Cuomo has refused to discuss the $250,000 he received from the firm.
New Yorkers need to ask themselves a couple of questions.
If two of the three men in the room during budget negotiations with Cuomo are corrupt, what does it say about the third one, Cuomo?
President Harry Truman once famously observed about his responsibilities that "the buck stops here."
As we go forward with all of these corruption trials this election year, where and with whom does the buck stop in New York?
 

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