Joe Percoco. Sheldon Silver. Alain Kaloyeros. Louis Ciminelli. Steven Aiello. Joseph Giardri. Dean Skelos. Adam Skelos.
These men, once part of Albany’s inner circle, were convicted on corruption charges in 2018 in four major trials:
Once a top aide and confidant to Governor Cuomo, Percoco was convicted of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from business executives whose companies did business with the state, and was found not guilty of extortion and conspiracy to commit extortion. Percoco served as Cuomo’s campaign manager on his 2010 and 2014 gubernatorial bids.
Syracuse executive Steven Aiello was also found guilty of conspiracy, but fellow Cor Development executive Joseph Giardri was acquitted on all counts. They were both acquitted of most of the charges they faced, but were later convicted in the Buffalo Billion trial (see below).
Percoco will be sentenced in August, and many in Cuomo’s circle are urging for leniency. Read more.
Democrat and former Assembly speaker Sheldon Silver was found guilty in May on federal corruption charges including honest services fraud, money laundering and extortion. These are the same charges as his 2015 trial, which was vacated after the Supreme Court ruling McDonnell v. United States.In 2015, Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison with a $1.75 million fine and $5.2 million in forfeiture. His sentence after the retrial was knocked down to 7 years.
The Buffalo Billion
What started as a $1 billion economic development package for Buffalo ended in the convictions of the project’s former head Alain Kaloyeros and business executives Louis Ciminelli, Joseph Girardi, and Steven Aiello in July. Some of the projects went well, others were delayed or had no progress, and the investment fell short of providing well-paying and permanent jobs at the projects. Kaloyeros, the former president of the State University Polytechnic Institute, was convicted of bid-rigging upstate development projects such that the investment used a select group of well-connected developers and concentrated projects in one neighborhood where Ciminelli’s construction company is located. He was convicted of fraud and conspiracy.
Aiello and Girardi, executives from Cor Development, were found guilty of wire fraud and conspiracy. Girardi was convicted of lying to federal authorities.
Sentencing will take place in October.
Ciminelli, Girardi, and Aiello’s companies gave Cuomo money in his last two elections, and Cuomo is donating the funds to a slew of progressive efforts: immigrant legal defense, women’s reproductive health rights, and Puerto Rico recovery efforts.
Dean Skelos and son Adam Skelos
Republican and former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos and his son Adam were found guilty on federal corruption charges for the second time. Skelos pressured companies to give his son no-show jobs, threatening his political support. Like Silver, they were convicted in 2015 but had a retrial after the McDonnell ruling. Skelos is due back in court for sentencing in late October. He was previously sentenced 5 years in prison.
Governor Andrew Cuomo maintains a major fundraising lead over his two major challengers, but he still struggles with small money donations.
Cynthia Nixon says approximately 97% of her coffer is from $200 donations or less. Cuomo says about 57% of his donations this fundraising period were for $250 or less.
Sludge.com’s money in politics reporter Josefa Velasquez compiled a list of instances that appear to show Cuomo’s campaign padded its small-donor figures. Read more.
Cuomo’s small money donors only accounts for $63,700 - or 1.09 percent - what he’s raised since mid-January. However, at this time four years ago, only 0.12 percent of Cuomo’s coffers came from $250 donations or less. More, via POLITICO.
POLITICO’s Bill Mahoney found that 12 big Cuomo donors used loopholes to give more than the $65,100 limit, totaling more than what challengers Nixon and Molinaro have raised, combined.
The governor’s office has repeatedly claimed that government favors are not conferred based on donations. But something’s rotten:
- A report by New York-based watchdog group Public Accountability Initiative shows some of Cuomo's biggest donors are landlords who rent space in the city to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) - and make millions. Unlike Democratic-challenger Cynthia Nixon, Cuomo has not called for ICE to be abolished.
- On April 24, the Winklevoss Twins (made famous by their role in Facebook's early days) donated $100,000 to Cuomo's campaign. On May 14, the state approved their cryptocurrency exchange. Then on June 20, they gave another $30,000. This is the first time they've ever donated money to New York political candidates.
Who is William Mulrow?
William Mulrow is a senior advisor at Blackstone Group, a global private equity firm headed by Stephen Schwarzman, a long-time Trump ally and donor who chaired Trump’s Strategic and Policy Forum. He’s also a trustee for the New York Public Library, and gave $100 million to have the central reference building at 42nd Street and 5th Avenue renamed after him.
Mulrow served as a secretary and top advisor to Governor Cuomo from 2015-2017. Now he’s chairman of Cuomo’s reelection campaign and courts the big money donors.
One fun thing: Billy Joel hosted a fundraiser at his Long Island mansion for the governor on July 12. They’ve been friends for years; Cuomo officiated Joel’s most recent marriage and is godfather of two of Joel’s children. Billy Joel sang at a 2013 Cuomo fundraiser, the Cuomo campaign recently had a $5 fundraiser to win Billy Joel tickets, and Cuomo proclaimed July 18 Billy Joel Day in New York to recognize his 100th performance at Madison Square Garden.