Percoco conviction stains Cuomo, Albany politics, observers say

Joseph Percoco and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen
Joseph Percoco and Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, seen here on April 26, 2013. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — The conviction of Joseph Percoco, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s former top aide, campaign manager and brother-like confidant, stains the governor and Albany politics, and exposes easy ways around New York’s ethics laws, political observers said following the verdict Tuesday.

It might also influence the upcoming statewide election and Cuomo’s potential attempts to position himself as a 2020 presidential contender, they said.

“Obviously, this is a black eye to the executive branch and to Cuomo personally,” said Michael Dawidziak, a Suffolk County political consultant who works mainly with Republicans. “And on the other hand, it’s just another one in a very, very long line of Albany convictions over the years that just continue to pile up people’s cynicism and lack of confidence in Albany as a whole.”

The governor wasn’t implicated in the alleged bribery scheme involving Percoco, an ex-lobbyist, and top Cuomo campaign contributors, so it might not weigh heavily on his upcoming re-election campaign, said Marist College pollster Lee Miringoff. But it lays bare Cuomo’s “major lack of progress” in fulfilling a pledge to “clean up Albany,” he said.

“To come up short right in the executive office is about as bad as it gets for proximity,” Miringoff said, adding that “it becomes part of how he is presented as a national candidate.”

Percoco, a longtime aide to not only Andrew Cuomo but also to his father, the late Gov. Mario Cuomo, was convicted on two counts of “honest services” fraud and one of soliciting a bribe for essentially using his access and influence to pocket bribes and win state contracts and permits…

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