U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara speaks at a press conference on...

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara speaks at a press conference on Wednesday, Sept. 16, 2015, in New York. Credit: Louis Lanzano

Now the gale-force gusts driven by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara blow far to the west.

They reach more than 450 miles from where former legislative leaders Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver wrestle with the sensational corruption charges the prosecutor lodged in recent months against them.

Subpoenas and searches in and around Buffalo provide public evidence of Bharara's investigations -- or preliminary reviews, or inquiries, or whatever term eventually proves accurate. Charges have yet to result.

Fear stalks the political class. As Skelos truthfully told his son while the FBI recorded him: "Right now we are in dangerous times."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo reacted the only way he apparently could this week to reports that the workings of his vaunted "Buffalo Billion" jobs program have drawn the interest of investigators.

He told reporters he was unaware of the queries. As a former state attorney general, he added, he knows that "you can have investigations. That does not mean there's any there there or that anyone did anything wrong."

True enough. Not only are people innocent until proven guilty, we don't even know the accusations until they are issued. But in the fluid world of political reputation, it is as if Bharara's Manhattan office becomes a supreme fourth branch of state government. His movements and actions focus the political buzz.

Back in June, federal agents and State Police searched the home of Steve Pigeon, a former Erie County Democratic chairman whose activities stirred authorities' interest before, and who is more or less seen as an ally of the governor.

Law-enforcement officials also searched the homes of a former first deputy mayor of Buffalo and chief of staff to GOP Rep. Chris Gibson, as reported by the Buffalo News and other outlets.

Sources confirmed to Newsday last week that Bharara's office sought records from State University of New York Polytechnic Institute involving bids it awarded for the "Buffalo Billion" project, including its "clean-energy" campus anchored by solar panel manufacturers.

Any cloud over this effort dims the administration's ability to tell a big success story.

In his 2014 book, "All Things Possible," Cuomo wrote: "We had to make it attractive and worthwhile for cutting-edge businesses to set up shop in Buffalo. . . . We have invested. It's worked. Every month more local workers got jobs with the new companies."

Bharara, who broadly condemns Albany's corrupt culture, established himself as a Cuomo skeptic when the governor, bowing to lawmakers' demands, disbanded a state corruption commission.

An added twist is that when word broke of the Pigeon raids, William J. Hochul Jr., the U.S. attorney for New York's western district, let it be known he would keep out of it.

He is married to Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul.

And so Bharara, master of the Southern District, shuffles his assets off to Buffalo, where politicos speculate on the damage that could follow.