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Governor Cuomo defends hiring practices amid FBI inquiry

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo defended his staff hiring

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo defended his staff hiring practices on Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. Credit: Yeong-Ung Yang

ALBANY — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo defended his hiring practices Wednesday amid an FBI probe, telling reporters “you know as much as I know” about the inquiry.

The FBI is looking into a practice in which staffers are hired to work for the governor but have their salaries covered by another state agency.

That can make the governor’s staff budget appear smaller. Good-government watchdogs long have criticized the tactic, saying it blocks transparency.

The Cuomo administration last week acknowledged receiving subpoenas in the matter months ago and said it is cooperating.

A Cuomo aide characterized the inquiry as a “charade,” saying all the agencies covering the staffers’ pay are in the executive branch. That was an apparent reference to the potential issue of commingling state and federal funds.

Speaking on the issue for the first time, Cuomo, a Democrat, told reporters Wednesday: “You know as much as I know. Every administration on the state level going to back to Rockefeller has hired people and detailed them. The federal government does it. The White House does it. The Department of Justice does it. So, that’s all I know.”

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