Cuomo Claims Top Aide’s Departure Unrelated to Justice Department Investigation

Joe Percoco (Photo: Azi Paybarah for Observer).

Joe Percoco (Photo: Azi Paybarah for Observer). Azi Paybarah/Observer

Gov. Andrew Cuomo denied today that his executive deputy secretary and right hand man Joe Percoco’s decision to exit his administration had anything to do with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s ongoing probe into the unceremonious scuttling of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission.

Mr. Percoco, seen as the governor’s political muscleman in government and one of the most powerful men in New York State, will leave at the year’s end to work in the private sector, the Daily News reported last night. Asked at an unrelated event this afternoon if the departure was in any way related to a subpoena or investigation, Mr. Cuomo claimed that it was a decision purely based on filial and financial concerns.

“No, sir. It was a personalized decision. He’s been in state government a long time, he’s been a fantastic public service employee. But he had needs that he had to attend to for his family,” he said. “Life gets very practical at one point. And his family needs time and attention and resources, and that’s what he’s going to attend to. Which is right.”

Mr. Percoco is known to be “fiercely loyal” to the governor and is one of his few close confidantes, having worked under him at the US Department of Housing and Urban Development in the 1990s. He was one of the few to remain at Mr. Cuomo’s side through his ill-advised 2002 run for governor, his successful run for state attorney general in 2006.

After reports emerged last year that Mr. Cuomo’s office had pressured the Moreland Commission into dropping subpoenas of people connected to the governor, Mr. Percoco pushed several members of the panel to release statements denying the administration had interfered with their work. This earned him a rebuke from Mr. Bharara.

Cuomo Claims Top Aide’s Departure Unrelated to Justice Department Investigation