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SUNY Polytech office raided by state AG in bid probe, source says

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman

New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman speaks at a news conference in Manhattan on March 30, 2015. Photo Credit: Getty Images / Andrew Burton

ALBANY — Representatives of state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman raided an office Thursday at the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute that had been used by a lobbyist whose activities have been questioned amid a federal probe, a source said.

Several boxes were taken away from the Albany office that had been used by lobbyist Todd Howe. The boxes contained paper records as well as electronic data, the source said.

A warrant also was served to examine correspondence from the president and CEO of SUNY Polytechnic, Alain Kaloyeros, according to the source.

The source said the actions were part of a broader investigation of the bidding process of SUNY Polytechnic, which has been instrumental in Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s economic development projects across New York, including the so-called Buffalo Billion. The raid was first reported by Gannett News Service.

“SUNY Poly cooperated fully today with the NYAG’s office request to search an office previously used by Todd Howe at our Albany campus,” the school said in a statement. “We continue to cooperate fully with their investigation.”

Cuomo’s office received a federal subpoena April 29 seeking information about economic development initiatives in Buffalo, Syracuse, Albany and elsewhere. Cuomo said his office cut off communication with Howe after the governor’s office received the subpoena from the U.S. Attorney’s office.

Howe had worked for former Gov. Mario Cuomo and had once been hired by Andrew Cuomo when he was the federal housing secretary in the Clinton White House. Howe later became a lobbyist in Washington, D.C., and in New York.

Howe didn’t report any role with SUNY Polytechnic in his state lobbying filings. Other state records filed by state agencies show Howe represented two companies, the development company STV of Manhattan and Synapse Partners of Syracuse, in meetings with other state agencies in 2013.

Howe’s attorney didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Schneiderman is examining a bid at SUNY Polytechnic involving a dormitory, a developer who has been a campaign contributor to Cuomo, and the purchase of properties that may have benefitted from insider information before the dorm project was announced.

Schneiderman is focusing on the possible improper “coordination” of the bidding process for a proposed 500-student dorm, a source has said.

That bid process resulted in just one company, Columbia Development of Albany, submitting a bid. The company, its owners and subsidiaries have contributed more than $100,000 to Cuomo’s campaign committees.

Last fall, SUNY Polytechnic pulled the bid after local media outlets reported not only that Columbia was the lone bidder, but also that a Columbia subsidiary had bought out homeowners nearby before the project was put to bid. Columbia at the time told the Albany Times Union the dorm project and the land purchases were unrelated. There was no immediate comment from Columbia Development.

Howe also had advised LPCiminelli, the contractor selected to build a $750 million solar-panel manufacturing plant as part of the Buffalo Billion initiative, a source had said.

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