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Cuomo rides for breast cancer awareness, responds to continuing federal probe

Gov. Andrew Cuomo signs a bill that requires insurance coverage of screening-associated costs, support services and breast cancer screening centers to be open an additional four hours a week, after 5 p.m. or on weekends.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is trying to focus on positive actions in his public events in recent days as a federal investigation into his administration’s economic development programs continues. 

Cuomo is riding his motorcycle from Long Island to the Hudson Valley, along with his girlfriend, Food Network star Sandra Lee, musician Billy Joel and others to raise awareness for breast cancer screenings. He is also promoting a new law that stemmed from Lee’s ordeal with the disease. As part of her treatment, Lee underwent a double mastectomy for early stage breast cancer. She said she was lucky. 

“I can tell you how hard it’s been on me,” Lee said. “But the women who don’t get diagnosed early — those are the women who really suffer.” 

Cuomo said the law now requires insurance coverage of screening-associated costs, support services and breast cancer screening centers to be open an additional four hours a week, after 5 p.m. or on weekends. 

“There’s no excuse not to get screened,” Cuomo said.

It comes the day after the governor announced, just before marching in the New York City Gay Pride parade, that he’ll commission the building of a memorial in Manhattan to victims of anti-gay violence.

The governor’s events come after a disappointing end of the legislative session, where Cuomo failed to convince lawmakers to make ethics changes, even though both former leaders of the legislature were sentenced to prison for corruption. 

The governor, speaking in Buffalo on June 22 after signing a bill to crack down on heroin and opioid addiction, said he’s given up on the issue for now. 

“There’s no point to calling them back, because the measures they didn’t do, they don’t want to do,” Cuomo said.

The governor said the next route is to hold a constitutional convention when the next opportunity comes up in a couple of years.

In the background of all of the public events that Cuomo has been holding is the ongoing federal probe of his economic development programs by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Bharara, speaking on the weekend news show ABC This Week, told host George Stephanopoulos that he expects to prove there’s corruption in the Cuomo administration, as well as in New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s office, which is also facing federal probes.

“We have found that corruption is rife in a lot of institutions in New York,” said Bharara. “There’s corruption, we believe, in the executive branches as well and we’ll ferret it out wherever we find it.”

The governor has said that since the news of the investigation broke in late April, his staff has been cooperating with the U.S. attorney.

“We have many people in our administration who have been talking to the U.S. attorney’s office,” Cuomo said on June 22. “I said, ‘Any way that we can be helpful, we will be.’ ”

Cuomo also has hired his own private investigator to look into the federal prosecutor’s accusations. The move was criticized by Bharara, who said “the most effective corruption investigations are those that are truly independent.”

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.