BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB)- Governor Andrew Cuomo’s local point man for the Buffalo Billion project isn’t running run away from questions about a new probe.
“The Buffalo Billion has been an enormous success so far.” said Empire State Development’s Regional President Sam Hoyt. He brushed aside any concerns about the probe by US Attorney Preet Bharara, who has reportedly subpoenaed several firms to see if certain developers got favoritism for Buffalo Billion projects like the Solar City plant going up in South Buffalo.
When the request for proposals went out for this project two years ago, it stated that one of the Developer requirements was to have “Over 50 years proven experience in the construction of mixed use facilities”, a requirement that critics say was written to favor either McGuire Development or LP Ciminelli, which was awarded the multi million dollar job.
Hoyt doesn’t think it was written to favor anyone “No, I don’t think that that’s accurate at all, and really it’s an investigation and we ought to let it play its course.”
Sources tell News 4 that it was a typographical error which was corrected two weeks later to reflect “15 years” instead of fifty years, and that all of the bidders were notified of that correction in late October.
As for the way the request for proposals was written, Hoyt said “It’s my understanding that the State University of NY has issued a statement indicating their cooperation and acknowledging they have issued the RFPs that are being looked at. Beyond that I don’t really have anything else to say about it.”
Attorney Daniel Oliverio was quick to respond on behalf of the company, “Neither LP Ciminelli or any of it’s principals is a target or a subject of any investigation regarding the Buffalo Billion or the Buffalo Schools Project by the Federal Government or any other regulatory body. Any statement to the contrary is simply erroneous or uninformed.”
A search of the NY State Board Elections website shows that Louis Ciminelli donated over $96,000 to Governor Cuomo’s campaign over the past six years, but Ciminelli has donated more than $100,000 to a combination of other candidates during that same time.
McGuire Development donated $35,000 to the Cuomo campaign in the months after being awarded the contract to build the Buffalo Information Technologies hub downtown. That donation was more than three times what the company gave to a combination of other candidates over the previous five years.
Hoyt says he doesn’t think the developers were given the contracts in exchange for donations.”I seriously doubt that in any way.”
As for what may be behind the investigation, Hoyt says he isn’t sure. “A billion dollars is a lot of money, and the project is moving forward and you know there’s always critics.”