Hours after a former top aide of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo was found guilty by a jury of three corruption charges, Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro - considered the frontrunner to be the GOP challenger for the governor’s seat - is calling for an independent investigation of the Cuomo administration by the state attorney general.
If the governor's race pitted these two candidates against each other, who would you support?
Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo
Republican Dutchess County Executive Marc Molinaro
On Tuesday, Joseph Percoco, a resident of South Salem in Northern Westchester, former top aide and friend to Cuomo, was found guilty of two counts of conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and one count of solicitation of bribes or gratuities.
Percoco was acquitted of two extortion charges related to his acceptance of $300,000 in bribes to benefit Competitive Power Ventures, an energy company that sought to build the power plant in the Hudson Valley. He was cleared of any wrongdoing related to the Syracuse-based COR Development, which had received several sizable state projects.
Calling it a “sad day for New Yorkers,” Molinaro stated that the trial “proved conclusively that, for a price, the rich and powerful get special treatment in the Cuomo administration.” He said that the trial “raises as many disturbing questions as were answered,” and that Cuomo "should subject his administration to an independent investigation by the attorney general. Otherwise, the attorney general should immediately begin one."
“Throughout the past several weeks the trial laid bare the pervasive culture of corruption that permeates this administration,” he said. “That culture stems from the governor's belief that he is the government, that he is the law.
“That belief manifested itself in the permission provided to Mr. Percoco to work on behalf of the government, in the governor's office, while an employee of the reelection campaign. Our government is of the people and New Yorkers need and deserve an honest government working for them, working in their best interest.”
In a statement released on Tuesday afternoon, Cuomo said he was sad for Percoco - who faces up to 50 years in prison - and his family, though he respects the verdict reached by the jury.
“While I am sad for Joe Percoco's young daughters who will have to deal with this pain, I echo the message of the verdict - there is no tolerance for any violation of the public trust,” he stated. “There is no higher calling than public service and integrity is paramount - principles that have guided my work during the last 40 years.
"The verdict demonstrated that these ideals have been violated by someone I knew for a long time. That is personally painful; however, we must learn from what happened and put additional safeguards in place to secure the public trust. Anything less is unacceptable.”
Molinaro is expected to challenge Cuomo after securing enough Republican support to win a gubernatorial slot on its ticket, with nearly double the backing of his nearest rival in the race for the GOP nomination.
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