Corruption investigations are threatening to swallow up the remaining two months of the legislative session in the State Capitol. The latest probe is focusing on Governor Andrew Cuomo's nanotechnology program at the Albany campus of the State University. Zack Fink filed the following report.
In another potential headache for the governor, sources tell NY1 that the state attorney general's office is investigating an alleged bid-rigging scheme at the state university's polytechnic institute.
SUNY Albany has a nanotechnology center that Governor Andrew Cuomo is looking to replicate in other parts of the state.
"We've got to be incredibly concerned," said Assemblyman James Tedisco of Clifton Park, N.Y. "We've actually regressed in terms of openness and transparency in government, and that's what I think leads to this type of stuff."
At the center of the probe is Alain Kalyeros, who is close to the governor. Kalyeros is also the target of a federal investigation of Cuomo's "Buffalo Billion" program in western New York.
"There is a pattern that is developed and becoming more an more apparent as these investigations evolve, and that is that Andrew Cuomo has used these economic development plans to promote his own re-election campaign and his own political empire," said Assemblyman Bill Nojay of Rochester, N.Y.
Also under investigation is longtime Cuomo confidante Joe Percoco, who left the administration earlier this year. The governor's office received a subpoena from the U.S. attorney's office last week.
The swirling investigations seem to have greatly slowed the pace of things in Albany as lawmakers head into the final weeks of their session.
"Nobody's doing anything because everyone is focusing on who is going to get indicted next," Nojay said.
But others argue there is still time to make progress.
"I actually think the members have shown a remarkable ability and capacity to continue to move ahead and do their work," said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle. "We have lot of work that we did today, that we did this week."
Despite the climate, some remain optimistic that an ethics reform package can still be voted on by the end of session, although there does not seem to be much agreement about what that would entail, with the exception of a pension forfeiture bill that would take away the pensions of elected officials who get convicted of crimes.