Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke publicly for the first time since his former closest aide was convicted of running two bribery schemes while working for the governor and managing Cuomo’s re-election campaign.
Cuomo said he respects the jury’s decision, but feels personally sad over the conviction of Joe Percoco, a man he has referred to as his “brother.”
“He has two young daughters who are going to have to live with this trauma,” Cuomo said during questions from reporters at an unrelated event in New York City.
But the governor said Percoco acted on his own.
“This is a total aberration from the people who work in the administration,” Cuomo said.
The trial also highlighted Percoco’s frequent use of state government offices while he was off the state payroll in 2014 and managing Cuomo’s re-election campaign, a potential violation of state laws. Cuomo said he thought Percoco was doing “transitional work” in the office and tying up loose ends from his old job, which Cuomo said is allowed. And he said if Percoco was doing more than that, then it was wrong.
The governor’s political opponents scoffed at his explanation. State GOP Chair Ed Cox called it an “Oscar-worthy performance” and said Cuomo condoned “illegal acts.”
“The truth is that Governor Cuomo knew Joe Percoco was working for private clients, yet allowed him to continue acting as his chief enforcer and employee of the state,” Cox said in a statement.
Sen. John DeFrancisco, who also is a Republican candidate for governor, called Cuomo's explanation "preposterous."
The governor told reporters that there was “absolutely no suggestion ever made that I had anything to with anything.”
Cuomo called the critical comments “garbage” and part of the “political silly season.”