As the corruption trial of his former close aide and confidant Joe Percoco played out in New York City, Governor Andrew Cuomo stuck to a largely similar script when asked about the details of the testimony.
"I have tremendous respect for the criminal justice system," said Cuomo on Feb. 8. "We're in the middle of a trial and it would be inappropriate to comment."
Cuomo had a similar reason for staying silent on the case's details two weeks later when facing reporters.
"We have a trial that is ongoing, and it would be inappropriate for me to comment on testimony that's going on in that trial," the governor said Feb. 21.
The trial, however, has raised questions over Percoco's influence in the administration and his apparent practice of showing up in Cuomo's government office while ostensbily running Cuomo's re-election campaign. Additional testimony revealed an office climate in which some employees were bullied and other aides couldn't leave for new jobs because of Percoco's intervention.
"It's a tricky situation for him. It's his top aide on trial," said NYPIRG Legislative Director Blair Horner. "He certainly doesn't want to be accused of influencing the trial's outcome. So in many ways, silence is probably golden for the governor."
Regardless of what verdict the jury brings back in the case, Horner said the case shows how reforms need to be made on how economic development contracts are doled out. Percoco is accused of receiving bribes to help move those contracts forward.
"Whether or not this is illegal, of course, is up for the jury to decide, but it's really showed there are a lot of holes in the state's system for how government contracts are awarded," Horner said.
The trial has also displayed a lack of transparency in state government and the use of private emails to conduct business.
"The sunshine doesn't apply to his office. It applies everywhere else, but not his office," said Jennifer Wilson of the League of Women Voters.
The Percoco trial won't be the end of corruption cases in New York. Former legislative leaders Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver will be retried later this year, while former SUNY Polytechnic President Alain Kaloyeros will be on trial in the spring.