© 2023 WSHU
NPR News & Classical Music
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

While Percoco Jury Deliberates, Cuomo Focuses On Other Things

Mary Altaffer
Former Vice President Al Gore joins New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo during an event on Friday in New York. Gore and Cuomo are speaking out against the Trump administration's plans to open up new areas to offshore drilling.

As a jury continues to deliberate in the bribery trial of Governor Cuomo’s former top aide, Cuomo has been keeping his focus on other matters, including appearing with former Vice President Al Gore to talk about energy and the environment.

The federal corruption trial of the man often described as Cuomo’s “brother,” Joe Percoco, has revealed a number of embarrassing revelations about the way business was conducted in Cuomo’s office. Witnesses describe a pay-to-play atmosphere, where donors were given special access to the governor and his top aides, and the questionable practice of Percoco using his state offices while he was not a state employee, and instead managing the governor’s 2014 re-election campaign.

Cuomo has stayed clear of discussing the trial, saying he can’t comment until it’s over. He has scheduled some high prolife events focusing on national issues in recent days, including an event with Al Gore to ask that New York be excluded from the Trump administration’s expanded offshore oil and gas drilling program. The former vice president praised the governor for his “extraordinary leadership” on promoting renewable energy and fighting climate change.

“Because of Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York State is leading the way on electricity regulation reform,” Gore said, to applause. “It is a tremendous service to this country.”

At the event, Cuomo made comparisons between his administration and that of President Trump, saying while Trump is focusing on offshore drilling, he’s planning to build more offshore wind-generating sites.

“They're defunding the EPA,” Cuomo said. “We just put $300 million, the largest amount in history, into our environmental protection fund.”

A day earlier, Cuomo held a conference call with Senator Amy Klobuchar, of Minnesota, on bills to require social media sites like Facebook to disclose funders of political advertisements. Cuomo is sponsoring a New York version of a federal bill backed by Klobuchar.

“It addresses the toxic cocktail that now exists,” Cuomo said. “The toxic cocktail is social media explosion, lack of protection, lack of regulation, and the anonymity in social media, and the ability of social media to target so effectively. 

Cuomo’s continued criticism of President Trump and Congress has fueled further speculation that New York’s governor is setting up for a presidential run. Cuomo has said so far that he’s only interested in seeking a third term as governor.

On that front, Cuomo is getting two potential new challengers. Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro is gaining support among GOP county chairs around the state to be the party’s candidate for governor, and actor and political activist Cynthia Nixon is considering a primary challenge from the left.

Cuomo gained some unplanned national media attention after he took a swipe at Nixon for her celebrity status.

“Normally name recognition is relevant when it has some connection to the endeavor,” said the Governor, who said if it’s just about name recognition, he hopes Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie or Billy Joel do not get into the race.

“That would really be a problem,” Cuomo said, with a laugh. 

His remarks were reported in many major newspapers across the country and discussed on cable news channels.

Former Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner has also not ruled out a potential primary challenge to Cuomo.

Karen has covered state government and politics for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 New York and Connecticut stations, since 1990. She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now. She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers.