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Preet Bharara

Preet Bharara

  • Supreme Court Ruling May Help De Blasio Avoid Charges

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    Mayor de Blasio swears-in judges (photo: Ed Reed/Mayor's Office)


    In June 2016, the United States Supreme Court overturned the corruption conviction of former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell, ruling that his help to a constituent who gave him thousands of dollars in gifts did not break the law. The ruling, which examined the meaning of an “official act,” set a new precedent for corruption prosecutions

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  • Cuomo Contradicts Bharara on Prosecutors & Government Oversight

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    Gov. Cuomo at a recent cabinet meeting (Governor's Office on flickr)


    At a rare cabinet meeting at the Capitol on February 28, Governor Andrew Cuomo told reporters that prosecutors already provide sufficient independent oversight over the state’s economic development programs.

    “You do have independent oversight,” said Cuomo, a second-term Democrat, when asked about calls to increase checks from outside his purview on state programs at the center of federal corruption charges. “That’s called 62 district attorneys, an attorney general, U.S.

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  • DiNapoli, Seeking Restored Power, Points Finger at Only the System

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    Comptroller DiNapoli (photo: @NYSComptroller)


    Comptroller Tom Dinapoli is not interested in pointing fingers at any of his fellow elected officials when it comes to the massive scheme alleged to have corrupted major state economic development programs under the noses of Governor Andrew Cuomo and state legislators.

    In the wake of corruption charges brought against nine individuals by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, DiNapoli was given multiple opportunities Friday during a radio interview, but he declined to criticize either Cuomo or the

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  • In Wake of Charges, Cuomo Promises Change, Offers Few Details

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Governor's Office)


    A day after United States Attorney Preet Bharara unveiled a myriad of corruption charges against two of his closest allies and some of his biggest donors related to their abuse of the state’s economic development programs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo traveled to Buffalo to announce he was expanding the program that sparked Bharara’s investigation.

    Cuomo publicly acknowledged the “truly disappointing” allegations and told the gathered crowd that his

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  • Federal Corruption Charges Confirm Systemic Flaws in State Economic Development System

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    Cuomo in Buffalo (photo via The Governor's Office on Flickr)


    After laying out multiple corruption and bribery charges against nine players involved with Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature economic development program, including his former aide and close friend Joe Percoco, family friend and confidante Todd Howe, and a number of major developers and Cuomo donors, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara refused to say whether the governor is a target in the probe or if it is reasonable to hold him accountable for the conduct of the people he empowered.

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  • Bill Bratton Announces Retirement from NYPD, to be Replaced by James O'Neill

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    De Blasio, Bratton, O'Neill, & Gomez (photo: Michael Appleton/Mayor’s Office)


    Bill Bratton, commissioner of the New York Police Department, announced his retirement from the NYPD on Tuesday, ushering in new leadership at the department he has shaped over the course of several decades. At a City Hall press conference, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that Bratton will be replaced by Chief of Department James O’Neill, who has been a long-time member of the NYPD, rising through its ranks to now fill

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  • Role of Cuomo’s ‘Independent Investigator’ Remains Unclear

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    Gov. Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin, Governor's Office)


    In trying to stifle the blaze that has become U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s investigation into the Buffalo Billion economic development program, Governor Andrew Cuomo has repeatedly invoked the name of Bart Schwartz, a former federal prosecutor the administration has retained (or is in the process of retaining) to carry out an “independent” review of the project.

    In acknowledging that people close to him were being investigated in relation to the Buffalo Billion, Cuomo announced Schwartz’s hire on

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  • Everyone Agrees Albany Needs Ethics Reform, Except the People Who Matter Most

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    Heastie, Cuomo, Flanagan (l-r) (photo via The Governor's Office)


    "Top of my agenda is going to be ethics reform," said Governor Andrew Cuomo, speaking on NY1 on Jan. 3. "We have done a lot in Albany, but we haven't done enough. And I'm going to push the legislature very hard to adopt more aggressive ethics legislation, more disclosure, more enforcement, etcetera."

    While the governor

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  • Oft-Criticized Ethics Watchdog Names Cuomo Aide as Executive Director

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    Gov. Cuomo gives an ethics reform speech in 2015 (Governor's Office via flickr)


    The state's independent ethics commission took the first official ethics-related action in Albany since the convictions of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos on Tuesday when it appointed a man with ties to both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and legislative leaders as its new executive director.

    Seth Agata, who JCOPE - the Joint Commission on Public Ethics - says it hired after a nine-month,

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  • Assembly Reform Group Nears Release of 49-Recommendation Report

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    Assembly Speaker Heastie photo: (Office of the Governor - Kevin P. Coughlin)


    The long wait for recommendations from a group of Democrats charged with finding ways to improve the transparency and democratization of the state Assembly may soon be over. According to Assembly Member Gary Pretlow, co-chair of The Assembly Working Group on Operations, Participation and Transparency, the release of a 49-point report is imminent.

    Pretlow told Gotham Gazette that the the committee's report will be made available after a press release is written

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  • In Albany, Bharara Challenges Lawmakers to Act, Not Enable

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    Preet Bharara (photo: Buck Ennis)


    Asked how he can spur legislators to enact major ethics reforms during his visit to Albany on Monday, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said he has a "particularly blunt incentive...the avoidance of prison." The reminder from Bharara comes as legislative leaders and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are quietly discussing possible ethics reforms behind closed doors--reforms none of them have appeared interested in discussing publicly since Cuomo outlined his platform in his State of the State address last month.

    Speaking before a captive audience, Bharara

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  • Bharara Visits Capital He Upended

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    U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (photo: @SDNYnews)


    For the last year a siege mentality has dominated the New York state capitol. And in some respect, Albany, or at least the political denizens who dwell within the capitol, does appear to be very much in the cross hairs of a conquering army headed by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The main roads into town feature digital billboards flashing entreaties from the FBI urging New Yorkers to "REPORT CORRUPTION," along with a number for

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  • The Week Ahead in New York Politics, February 8

    New York City Hall

    New York City Hall


    What to watch for this week in New York politics:

    State budget hearings continue in Albany this week, but excitement in the capital is centered around the presence of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who makes a rare visit to Albany, where he'll participate in several events Monday, including one with good government groups where he'll discuss ethics and corruption in state government.

    Meanwhile, in New York City, on Sunday Mayor Bill de Blasio announced new

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  • Once Rife with Problems, City Budget Process Now a Model for State System in Need of Reform

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    Governor Cuomo presents his 2014-2015 Executive Budget


    In 1975 New York City was teetering on the edge of bankruptcy, having balanced its budget for years with massive borrowing and shady accounting tricks. Banks were at the point where they would lend no more. Mayor Abe Beame had written the announcement of the city's default. City lawyers were in State Supreme Court filing a petition for bankruptcy and police were prepared to serve

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  • Assembly Democrats Reject Republican Rules Changes, Promise Own Proposals Soon

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    Assembly Minority Leader Kolb and colleagues (photo via @NMalliotakis)


    A majority of Democrats in the New York State Assembly voted down a series of 13 rules changes proposed by their Republican counterparts designed to make the chamber more equitable and allow members of the minority to get their bills to a vote.

    While a push for rules changes led by Republican Assembly Minority Leader Brian Kolb and their defeat by Assembly Democrats has become an annual Albany

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  • Corruption, Elections Loom Over Lengthy 2016 Legislative Agenda

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    Cuomo (photo: Kevin P. Coughlin/Office of the Governor)


    Lawmakers returning to Albany this week to kick off the 2016 legislative session are faced with a litany of unresolved issues from last year and the spectre of the recent convictions of two former legislative leaders.

    Add to that impending elections for all 213 legislative seats, some of which will be critical for the future of state Senate control and the prospect of future indictments hinted at by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and you have a recipe for potential

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  • 40 Questions for New York Politics in 2016

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    photo: William Alatriste


    Happy new year! As we jump right into 2016, Gov. Andrew Cuomo prepares for his State of the State and budget address, Mayor Bill de Blasio works to improve his public approval ratings, and the two keep on feuding. There's a lot to look for in the new year, here are about 40 political questions we're asking as the year begins - if you want to share them, answer any, or let us know one we missed, tweet @GothamGazette:

    1. How will
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  • Skelos Conviction Greeted With Calls for Immediate Action on Reform

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    Dean Skelos in 2012, via The Governor's Office on flickr 


    Sen. Dean Skelos and his son Adam Skelos were convicted on eight federal corruption charges Friday. They were found guilty of a scheme where Dean Skelos used his power as Senate Majority Leader to influence companies to employ or pay his son. The conviction comes only a week after that of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver on charges that he illegally used his influence for financial gain of $4 million.

    The convictions speak to a larger campaign by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose

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  • Tenant Activists Trace Road to Corruption Trials, Eye Elusive Reform

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    Tenants sit-in at the Albany capitol


    "It's just surreal," said Jaron Benjamin a week after the conviction of former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and on the day of closing arguments in the federal corruption case against former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, knowing that those cases may have been bolstered by work he did years ago in the fight to strengthen the state's rent laws.

    In the span of less than a year Benjamin went from issuing a report exposing the connections among the real estate industry, holes in New York's campaign finance laws, and major

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  • Will Silver Conviction Be Tipping Point for 'Real' Reform?

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    Sheldon Silver in 2012 (photo via the Governor's Office)


    Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, thought to be the most powerful man in New York state government for decades, was found guilty Monday on seven counts of corruption in multiple schemes to monetize the power of his office. During the trial Silver's own defense attorney insisted that Albany itself was on trial and claimed that Silver's behavior was business as usual in Albany,

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  • Spurred by Buffalo Billion, Reformers Look to Fix State Business Subsidies

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    Cuomo in Buffalo (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    United States Attorney Preet Bharara's attention has been drawn away from his normal stomping grounds to Buffalo, intrigued by what critics say is a shadowy network of state authorities and state-controlled non-profits handing out large business subsidies and contracts with little to no oversight.

    Watchdogs say that Gov. Andrew Cuomo, through SUNY Polytechnic head ...

  • Buffalo Billion Boss Offers, Cancels Interview; Claims 'Threat of Jail'

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    Cuomo and Kaloyeros, both pointing (photo: Governor's Office via flickr)


    In response to a recent profile of him, Alain Kaloyeros, president of SUNY Polytechnic and the man Gov. Andrew Cuomo chose to administer his Buffalo Billion program,

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  • Alain Kaloyeros, Powerful Centerpiece of Buffalo Billion, Could Become Household Name

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    Alain Kaloyeros (photo via the Governor's Office on flickr)


    It is easy to spot Alain Kaloyeros, head of SUNY Polytechnic, around Albany. You can often see him jetting around Stuyvesant Plaza, an upscale shopping center basically next door to the campus he built, which features a spaceship-like structure rising out of the dirt of constant construction.

    It doesn't hurt that he drives a Ferrari Spider with the license plate "Dr. Nano." He is New

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  • The Week That Was in New York Politics, September 14-18

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    photo: Stanley Kubrick via Museum of the City of New York


    Gotham Gazette's Week in Review, Friday 

    PHOTOS OF THE WEEK: Mayor de Blasio delivers an education speech, via The Mayor's Office on flickr; NYPD Commissioner Bratton is briefed as the city prepares for the

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  • Republicans Face Moment of Truth After Conviction of Senate Deputy Leader

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    Sen. Flanagan, standing, & former Sen. Libous (photo: Lori Van Buren)


    When Senator Tom Libous, deputy majority leader for the state Senate Republicans, was convicted last week it sent a shockwave through the capital. Sure, indictments and convictions of powerful sitting legislators are a dime a dozen these days thanks to the efforts of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, but many in Albany felt Libous' case was different.

    Well-liked

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