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Maryland firm acknowledges being contacted in federal probe

Days after the office of Gov. Andrew M.

Days after the office of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, above, was subpoenaed, reportedly related to construction projects, a builder that donated to his campaigns was contacted by U.S. Attorney's officials. Credit: AP / Mike Groll

ALBANY — A Maryland company confirmed Monday that it has been contacted by the U.S. attorney’s office days after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s office received a federal subpoena reportedly related to state construction projects.

Competitive Power Ventures “has been contacted by the U.S. attorney’s office to provide information related to past engagements with a small number of consultants,” company spokesman Tom Rumsey told Newsday. “We are cooperating fully with the investigation.” He wouldn’t comment further or identify the consultants.

Competitive Power Ventures is building a power plant in the Hudson Valley after securing several state permits. The company has contributed more than $75,000 to Cuomo’s political campaigns, according to state Board of Elections records.

After receiving the subpoena Friday, Cuomo suspended further interactions with CPV. Cuomo also ordered his office to cut off communications with Todd Howe, a lobbyist who has been close to Cuomo since both worked in the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Cuomo’s counsel on Friday said individuals he wouldn’t name may have deceived or defrauded the state and said U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara “raised questions of improper lobbying and undisclosed conflicts of interest.”

Howe has represented LPCiminelli, which is the major partner in Cuomo’s signature Buffalo Billion development project, according to 2013-14 state lobbying records.

The U.S. attorney’s office had previously subpoenaed Cuomo’s economic development agency and the State University of New York Polytechnic Institute concerning the Buffalo Billion project.

A source familiar with the dealings said Howe also represented COR Development, which is the primary builder in Cuomo’s massive state-supported harbor development in Syracuse.

COR spokeswoman Maggie Truax wouldn’t comment on whether COR had hired Howe.

Ethics filings show that COR hired another longtime Cuomo confidante, Joseph Percoco. The federal investigation is looking at Percoco, who left his job as a top aide to Cuomo in January, according to published reports.

Percoco’s 2014 state ethics filings say that he received consulting fees from COR, collecting between $50,000 and $75,000, while he was on leave from Cuomo’s government office to work on the governor’s campaign. Percoco also reported receiving consulting fees of up to $150,000 from Cuomo’s 2014 campaign committee, and up to $50,000 from CHA Consulting, which has done work on state economic development projects.

Cuomo told reporters Monday night that he knew Percoco might take consulting fees and was free to do so while in the private sector even as he was running the Cuomo ’14 campaign. But Cuomo said he didn’t know who Percoco worked for, or if they had business with the state, and Cuomo didn’t ask, even when Percoco returned to his powerful state job.

“There would be no reason to say, ‘Who did you represent?’” Cuomo told reporters. “There was nothing out of the ordinary and the following year, you do the financial disclosures.”

Percoco’s attorney declined to comment Monday.

COR’s spokeswoman said Monday that the firm didn’t “hire, retain or pay Joe Percocco in any capacity and intends to fully cooperate with any investigation in this matter.”

COR’s principal, Steven F. Aiello, has contributed $65,000 to Cuomo’s campaigns since 2010.

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