It was beginning to get really weird with so many people headed for the exits of the Cuomo administration and no replacements being named. Well, Andrew Cuomo announced a slew of appointments as well as another very high level departure.
Top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz is leaving "for the private sector." There was no other information on exactly where Schwartz will land. Schwartz has been Cuomo's right hand man since he took office four years ago. He's up to his eyeballs in the scandal surrounding the crib murder of Cuomo's Moreland Commission on ethics last spring and was interviewed by federal investigators about his involvement last fall. Schwartz was Cuomo's enforcer and fix it guy. His name turns up at some point in just about every Cuomo administration scandal since 2011. Honestly, it's hard to imagine Cuomo getting by without him.
But here's the kicker. Schwartz is being replaced by Bill Mulrow, a wealthy Westchester investor and banker. Eliot Spitzer tapped Mulrow back in 2007 to take over a big part of his political operation, something Mulrow and his rolodex of deep pocketed donors were probably fairly well suited to, though it was a bit unsettling that he joined Team Spitzer at the same time a company in which Mulrow was a large investor was lobbying the state to open horse racing casino-like terminals. Spitzer would eventually submit Mulrow as one of his three finalists to replace disgraced Comptroller Alan Hevesi. Sheldon Silver's Assembly shut out all three of them and elevated one of their own, Tom DiNapoli.
Mulrow has spent the last few years as a senior managing director at the Blackstone Group, a firm you may remember from when they basically paid another firm to delay a debt payment so that they could profit from a bunch of triggered default swaps. This was apparently perfectly legal, but says so much about the way the world actually works.
But enough with the history lesson. Here's a little something about Mulrow that speaks volumes about Cuomo, his priorities and how he sees the world, something that you were never supposed to know. Back in early 2012, Mulrow, a banker, performed a skit at a secret gathering of other 1% assholes at the St. Regis Hotel ("what happens at the St. Regis stays at the St. Regis") in Manhattan. It wasn't pretty.
In another skit, William Mulrow , a senior managing director at the Blackstone Group, put on raggedy clothes to play the part of an Occupy protester. Emil W. Henry Jr., a managing partner at Tiger Infrastructure Partners and a fellow new Kappa, joined him dressed as a wealthy baron.
"Bill, look at you! You're pathetic, you liberal! You need a bath!" Mr. Henry said, voice full of mock indignation.
"You callow, insensitive Republican!" Mr. Mulrow said. "Don't you know we need to create jobs?"
So just a couple of years after people like Mulrow blew up the entire global economy in an orgy of greed and self dealing, visiting misery and despair upon literally billions of people, Bill Mulrow, mega wealthy asshole, was standing up at a secret gathering of the other mega wealthy assholes responsible and was making fun of those who took it upon themselves to stand up point fingers their way. It's never funny when the powerful punch down, Mr. Mulrow.
But it gets even better. Cuomo created a charity, made mostly of wealthy Cuomo donors, to distribute relief money through something called the Housing Trust Fund Corporation to homeowners devastated by Hurricane Sandy. That fund had just two board members, Darryl Towns and one Bill Mulrow. The charity drew sharp criticism when it was discovered that, while thousands of New York homeowners were waiting for relief, millions were disbursed to two troubled Brooklyn state-sponsored housing developments. Those developments were managed by…Blackstone.
It was all on the up and up though, Blackstone insisted.
A spokesman for Blackstone Group said Mulrow's role at the firm had nothing to do with the charity aid. "He works in investor relations at Blackstone, not our real estate group," said Peter Rose.
"Bill [Mulrow] was not asked by anyone at Blackstone or anyone connected with Blackstone to get Sandy relief money for any property connected with Blackstone. Bill had no knowledge that any of the three properties at issue here had applied for Sandy money. He didn't know. He had no influence on any of the decision-making process by any Sandy relief funds."
Mulrow told him personally on Thursday, Rose said, that "he had not heard of the three buildings" and was unaware that Blackstone had any interest in them.
Move along. Nothing to see here.
So that's who Andrew Cuomo has chosen to become his new right hand man. That's who Cuomo has put right into the governor's office on the 2nd floor.
And that says a lot about what we can expect from Andrew Cuomo's second term.
Originally posted at The Albany Project.
(image via billmulrow.blogspot.com, a Blogger site that strangely consists of nothing but posts about how awesome Bill Mulrow is, allegedly authored by "Bill Mulrow," but that consistently refers to Bill Mulrow in the third person. No, we're not even making that up.)