NEW YORK — New York gubernatorial candidate Cynthia Nixon called on Gov. Andrew Cuomo Friday to initiate a corruption probe following the guilty verdicts at a corruption trial a day earlier related to the state's ambitious "Buffalo Billion" upstate redevelopment scandal.
Nixon, a Democrat, spoke outside Manhattan federal court the morning after a jury Thursday convicted a former school president Cuomo had praised as an economic guru and three developers who had contributed to his 2014 re-election campaign.
Nixon said Cuomo should direct that corruption in Albany be investigated and let his attorney general conduct a probe.
"This is a governor who has repeatedly said that there can be no tolerance for corruption. And yet he has tolerated it at the highest levels of his own administration," the "Sex and the City" star and political activist said at a news conference.
A jury convicted Alain Kaloyeros, formerly the president of the State University of New York's Polytechnic Institute, and three developers, including Louis Ciminelli, whose company, LPCiminelli, was awarded a contract to build a project in Buffalo worth a half billion dollars. Sentencing on corruption charges including conspiracy were scheduled for October.
Cuomo, also a Democrat, had praised Kaloyeros, who led many of Cuomo's efforts to lure high-tech investment upstate. Cuomo once called Kaloyeros his "economic guru."
On Friday, though, Cuomo sought to distance himself from Kaloyeros, telling reporters in New York City that "Kaloyeros was surprising to everyone."
Cuomo said the state has taken steps to increase accountability in economic development programs but said it would be impossible to completely prevent corruption.
"Can you stop people from doing stupid things? No. Can you stop people from doing venal things? No," Cuomo said. "But you can have a system in place that says, if you do something wrong, we will be as aggressive as the law allows in prosecuting you."
Cuomo said Kaloyeros had worked for the state for over two decades and had done great work when Gov. George Pataki, a Republican, was in office.
"I don't know what I could have done differently," he said. "People are going to do bad, stupid, venal things."