The New York Times has obtained nearly 350 emails from the administration of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and one person who features pretty prominently? Corrupt lobbyist Todd Howe, a former Cuomo loyalist who helped the government convict two top Cuomo aides, Joseph Percoco and Alain Kaloyeros.
As the Times notes, the disclosure of the emails come after Cuomo shelled out $200,000-plus on outside counsel in order to unsuccessfully fight their release. There was a good reason why. Here’s one exchange involving Howe, Cuomo’s former director of state operations Jim Malatras, and Malatras’ deputy Andrew Kennedy, per the Times:
In December 2014, for instance, Mr. Howe sent an urgent email to Mr. Malatras and Andrew Kennedy, his deputy, pleading with the two officials to look into millions of dollars of payments owed to two upstate development companies — COR Development and LPCiminelli — both upstate developers that ended up at the center of the federal corruption cases.
“Both need some payment as a sign of good faith before the close of business tomorrow,” Mr. Howe wrote. Less than an hour later, an official with Empire State Development, Mr. Cuomo’s leading economic development agency, confirmed that the agency was approving the Ciminelli payment.
“So they should have a check no later than tomorrow,” the official, Peter Cutler, wrote back to Mr. Howe. “But could be before.”
In another email, Howe—who lobbied for SUNY Polytechnic, where Kaloyeros was president of the school—intervenes between school and administration officials to get access to the governor for two executives whose expensive public-private partnership projects had been cut out of Cuomo’s 2016 State of the State speech:
“We need to assure these guys their deals are solid,” Christopher Walsh, an associate vice president at the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute, wrote in an email to several top Cuomo administration officials. “We cannot string these guys along any longer. Please.”
“Could we get the two C.E.O.s invited to the mansion?” Mr. Howe wrote in an email to Jim Malatras, then the director of state operations, one of the top positions in state government. “Given we asked them to travel in to attend.”
Two minutes later, Mr. Malatras said “O.K.,” and instructed his deputy to set up the visit.
In 2016, Howe—a former aide to Gov. Mario Cuomo before going on to work for the younger Cuomo when he was the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development under Bill Clinton—pleaded guilty to eight felonies (including extortion and conspiracy to commit bribery) relating to his participation in two separate corruption schemes, one where Percoco took bribes and another where Howe and Kaloyeros engaged in bid-rigging.
Howe was a key witness in the Percoco trial, after which Percoco was convicted on three counts of corruption including soliciting bribes, but didn’t make an appearance in the second corruption trial involving Kaloyeros, who was convicted in July for wire fraud and conspiracy. This past February, Howe was arrested and sent to jail after admitting in open court that he violated his plea bargain by lying to his credit card company. A federal judge ordered his release this month.
Naturally, Cuomo’s office is not pleased by the release of the emails. “Todd Howe was hired by SUNY Poly and others to represent them, and that is what is reflected in this correspondence,” Cuomo spokesman Richard Azzopardi told the Times. “However, what wasn’t known then that is known now is that he is a criminal, an admitted liar and a con man who by his own admission made up stories involving the governor and his father — including doctoring emails to his friends and clients — to make himself appear relevant.”
Kaloyeros will be sentenced in October, and Percoco will be sentenced on September 20—one week after the New York Democratic gubernatorial primary, where Cuomo will face Cynthia Nixon.