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Politics and Government

Cuomo says he knew little about former associates' troubles and business dealings

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Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday.

It’s been reported that subpoenas from the U.S. attorney in a federal probe of the Cuomo administration cover several of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top staff and over two dozen companies doing business with the state. But Cuomo says his understanding is that the investigation focuses on just two people, who he has cut ties with.

The governor says he believes the targets are limited to his former close associate, Joe Percoco, who is being scrutinized for taking consulting payments from companies doing business with the state. Cuomo says he didn’t know who Percoco’s clients were. He was asked whether, as Percoco’s boss, he should have scrutinized the matter more closely.

“The state has tens of thousands of employees. They’re not supposed to be cross-examined to make sure they’re following the rules,” said Cuomo, who said it’s up to the individual employee to follow ethical guidelines, and face the consequences if they violate them.

Cuomo says he also did not know of lobbyist Todd Howe’s long history of financial troubles and a felony conviction for writing a bad check, saying the two were not really close friends.

“I didn’t really have communications with Todd Howe,” Cuomo said. “I would see him at events.”

Howe has worked for Cuomo and his father, the late former Gov. Mario Cuomo, on and off since the 1980s. The governor said he was not sure whether Howe worked for his 2014 reelection campaign.

And the governor says he’s also conducting his own investigation.

“If anyone did anything wrong, I will be the first to throw the book at them,” Cuomo said.

The governor say he has not been subpoenaed or questioned by the federal investigators, but says he hopes to be helpful to the probe.