Cuomo Needs a Reminder on What Government Corruption Looks Like

It should be obvious to Governor Cuomo that bribing companies to do business in New York doesn’t work. He tried to lure Amazon in with $3 billion worth of city and state corporate giveaways. But it still wasn’t enough to convince the wealthiest company in the world to set up shop in Long Island City.

The tech giant’s decision to pull out of the HQ2 deal caused a major rift between the Governor and the Democratic majority in the Legislature. Instead of taking responsibility for yet another failed economic development scheme, Cuomo blamed the lawmakers who spoke out against the proposed handout.

He called tactics to block the Amazon deal “a form of government corruption.” The Governor was referring to the appointment of Senator Michael Gianaris, an outspoken critic of the deal, to the Public Authorities Control Board – a panel that provides financial oversight on large development projects.

Gianaris’ position on the PACB would have allowed him to veto the project. Cuomo said that the veto would have “exceeded the legal authority of that position” as opposition to projects should be limited to financial constraints only.

A Cuomo spokesperson later clarified his statements, saying he did not accuse Senate Democrats of corruption, as he only meant to point out the limitations of Gianaris’ PACB role.

The Cuomo administration has been riddled with actual government corruption scandals. Yet he’s failed to reform loopholes in state law that make pay-to-play the norm in Albany. Let’s not forget that his former top aide Joseph Percoco recently began a six-year prison sentence for bribery.

Percoco solicited more than $315,000 in bribes from companies doing business with the state. He wielded his power in Albany to rig development bids for the Buffalo Billion program and arranged meetings between the Governor and campaign donors.

The Percoco guilty verdict confirms Cuomo’s signature economic development efforts weren’t to improve New York communities. They merely served to line the pockets of political insiders. Billions of taxpayer dollars are still being spent on programs that are riddled with conflicts of interest and pay-to-play concerns.

Will Cuomo ever put an end to these corporate welfare programs and speak out against true government corruption?

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Photo: MTA New York City Transit / Marc A. Hermann