Sorting out the internal intrigue

Albany 8


There’s a lot of internal intrigue in state government. This column will be an attempt to bring some of that intrigue into focus.

What we do know is that Andrew Cuomo is standing in the middle of a circle surrounded by former and possibly current friends who have been served with Preet Bharara subpoenas. So far, he seems insulated from those who have been subpoenaed. The investigations appear to be related to the awarding of state contracts in the so-called “Buffalo Billions” projects and in the way in which the State University of New York was constructing its SUNY Poly facility. There have been implications there, too, that all was not kosher.

In addition, State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has some scores to settle with Andrew, is conducting his own investigations of folks who might have something to do with the present governor and there are many who think that Schneiderman may be interested in being the next governor.

Schneiderman, you may remember, was severely embarrassed by Andrew who had him deputize the members of the now defunct Moreland Act Commission, which Cuomo unceremoniously dumped. Schneiderman was left holding the bag because Andrew announced that the Moreland crime fighting group which he had established was his to disband. I don’t know about Schneiderman, but if I was in his spot, my face would have been very red and I would have had to reach out to some doctor for blood pressure medication.

This is not the first rift between the two men. Apparently when Andrew, the former AG, took over as governor he tried to negotiate with Schneiderman about taking some of his powers from his old job as AG with him. That went nowhere but we are told that there was some bad blood left as a result.

Another issue which should be of great concern to everyone involves the tenure of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney who has launched a one-man crusade against evil doers ranging from corrupt politicians to the Mafia. First we heard from Hillary Clinton that she was not prepared to say that Bharara should stay in office after she wins the presidency. That made me crazy, especially since we know that the Clintons have had their own ethical problems in the past. Is it possible that the Clintons don’t want the incorruptible do-what’s-right Preet looking at some of their operations?

It gets even worse in that one of my other most-admired politicians, Chuck Schumer, says much the same thing as Clinton; it is too early to say whether Bharara should stay or go. We know that Schumer is slated to be the top man in the Senate and that the Senate may well go Democratic. So Hillary would be the President and Schumer would be the U.S. Senate majority leader. The stink thickens. Preet absolutely must be re-nominated.

Finally, Andrew Cuomo seems to be very troubled by the excellent auditing work of Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, one of the most decent, bright, hardworking public servants I have ever known. DiNapoli turned the Comptroller’s Office from a cesspool to a respected, professionalized operation yet irrationally, Cuomo has picked on DiNapoli for years. As with all his other inexplicable rivalries with seemingly everyone else, he appears to be just plain jealous of DiNapoli.

Now there is talk that DiNapoli will run in a primary against Cuomo. I doubt that he will. All DiNapoli has ever wanted was to do his job well. He is beloved in professional governmental circles and he has earned that the hard way. Whenever Cuomo does anything, we rub our chins and try to figure out what he’s got up his sleeve. Is there a major contributor who will be leaned on? Who is Andrew getting even with this time? We never do that with DiNapoli. He calls them the way he sees them and in this government, that is refreshing.