New York Governor Andrew Cuomo is currently facing numerous allegations of sexual harassment, as well as other lies and abuses of power during the pandemic, and soon he might have another charge to add to the list. Apparently, Cuomo’s inner circle has been quietly fundraising for a former aide of the governor who was convicted of bribery in 2018, reports the New York Times.
In 2016, Cuomo’s trusted aide Joseph Percoco and eight other members of the governor’s inner circle were arrested and charged with corruption in connection to a “bribery and kickback scheme” involving an upstate New York economic development program. However, Cuomo himself was never directly accused of wrongdoing. At the time of Percoco’s arrest, Cuomo’s campaign paid his legal fees, which totaled $80,000. Two years later, Percoco was convicted of soliciting and accepting more than $300,000 in bribes from executives doing business with New York state and sentenced to six years in prison.
Joseph Percoco’s relationship with the Cuomo family began when he started working for Governor Mario Cuomo at the age of 19. In the years since Percoco’s conviction, Cuomo has publicly distanced himself from his former friend and advisor, maintaining that paying his former aide’s legal fees at the time of his arrest was the extent of his involvement.
But as recently as 2020, Cuomo’s sister and other members of his inner circle have reportedly been fundraising for Percoco—both to establish a trust fund for his children and to cover the legal fees for his case and appeal. They have solicited donations from a number of Cuomo’s longtime allies and other associates, including his former top political fundraiser, his former chief of staff, and prominent Albany lobbyists.
Madeline Cuomo says that she never told the governor about the fundraising efforts. “I have known Joe most of my life, and I care for my friend,” she told the New York Times. “I did want to help him, but once the pandemic hit, everyone’s priorities quickly shifted. My brother Andrew was neither involved with, nor privy to, my independent effort. I still believe helping a friend is the morally right thing to do.” A number of other people who donated also told the Times that they did so because of their personal relationships with Percoco and sympathy for his family’s situation—and not because the governor asked them to.
Although it’s entirely possible that these fundraising efforts were the genuine efforts of Percoco’s friends and former colleagues to support his family during his legal fight and that Cuomo was not at all involved, it’s impossible to sever this revelation from the larger allegations of corruption, mismanagement, and unethical conduct that are currently swirling around the New York governor. How many times can Cuomo’s associates be accused of corruption before people start focusing on the common denominator?