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Cuomo denies report of close, recent ties to Pigeon

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Michael Mroziak, WBFO
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Governor Andrew Cuomo is denying a recently published report that suggests longtime Buffalo political operative G. Steven Pigeon, who recently pled not guilty to nine felony charges, maintained a close relationship with his office as recently as his 2014 re-election campaign.

In a report published July 4 by the New York Post, Cuomo is alleged to have included Pigeon in his campaign staff. The article cites unnamed sources. Cuomo, while appearing in Niagara Falls in Tuesday, dismissed the article entirely.

"That story was not correct," the governor said. "I have no comment on the paper or the reporter. (Pigeon) was never part of the administration. He never worked for my administration. He never worked in government, as far as I know."

Cuomo did acknowledge Pigeon's support during the former's first run for governor in 2001, when the latter held the position of Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman. He also acknowledged the charges recently filed against Pigeon, who is accused of counts including bribery, extortion and rewarding official misconduct.

"I've heard about the indictment and justice should be done," Cuomo said. 

He was also asked about disgraced State Supreme Court Justice John Michalek, who pled guilty to two counts, including accepting a bribe, in a case related to Pigeon. In spite of Michalek's admission in court, he is still eligible to receive a hefty pension. Cuomo called that adding insult to injury for the public and renewed his call for legislation eliminating pensions for anyone convicted of a crime while holding public office.

"I believe in a very expansive pension forfeiture legislation," Cuomo told reporters. "If you are working for the public, and you get convicted of a crime that is a violation of the public trust, I don't think you should get a pension. Period."

Cuomo pointed out that state leaders reached an agreement on pension forfeiture in the most recent legislative session. However, because it involves a state constitutional amendment, pension forfeiture must pass the legislature in next year's session and then pass a referendum before it may be implemented.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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