NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Gov. Andrew Cuomo is feeling the political heat after another member of his administration is convicted of federal corruption charges.
The governor was greeted by cheers and applause Friday at a Brooklyn Catering Hall as he spoke at a reproductive rights rally and a press conference demanding senate passage of speed camera legislation.
Those events only delayed the unavoidable questions about the federal corruption conviction of Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, the man he picked to spur upstate development – the so-called “Buffalo Billions Project.”
“The law is the law, and this was a violation of the public trust,” Cuomo said.
According to CBS2’s Marcia Kramer, the governor tried to distance himself from Kaloyeros, who was convicted of steering contracts to build a solar panel plant and other high-tech firms to preferred developers that were also political donors to the governor.
Cuomo pointed out that Dr. Kaloyeros was a longtime state employee originally hired by former Republican Gov. George Pataki. Kaloyeros was charged with redeveloping Albany, which he reportedly did with great success.
“Dr. Kaloyeros, who was so impactful during the Pataki years, he was I think the highest paid state employee at a million dollars,” Cuomo added.
Cuomo kept Kaloyeros on his staff and lavished him with praise in 2014.
“You met Dr. Alain Kaloyeros, he’s New York’s secret weapon,” the governor said four years ago.
Cuomo’s political opponents in this fall’s race for governor pounced on the conviction.
“We can’t clean up Albany until we clean up the governor’s mansion,” gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon said. “It doesn’t have to be like this.”
“I think the public has gotten used to this and believes this is just the way it is,” Republican candidate Marc Molinaro added. “This isn’t the way democracy is supposed to function. This isn’t honest, it isn’t decent, it isn’t fair and it isn’t right. And I’m hopeful New Yorkers will understand that and sweep the place clean this November.”
Former Gov. Pataki says he didn’t hire Kaloyeros, Gov. Mario Cuomo did.
“For Andrew Cuomo to try to push the cloud of corruption onto my administration is despicable,” he said in a statement.