Karen DeWitt

Capitol Bureau Correspondent, Albany

Karen DeWitt is Capitol Bureau Chief for New York State Public Radio, a network of 10 public radio stations in New York State. She has covered state government and politics for the network since 1990.

She is also a regular contributor to the statewide public television program about New York State government, New York Now.  She appears on the reporter’s roundtable segment, and interviews newsmakers. 

Karen previously worked for WINS Radio, New York, and has written for numerous publications, including Adirondack Life and the Albany newsweekly Metroland.

She is a past recipient of the prestigious Walter T. Brown Memorial award for excellence in journalism, from the Legislative Correspondents Association, and was named Media Person of the Year for 2009 by the Women’s Press Club of New York State.

Karen is a graduate of the State University of New York at Geneseo.

Ways to Connect

stgermh / Flickr

There are only three more days left in the legislative session, and lawmakers are talking with Gov. Andrew Cuomo about a number of bills — but keeping details close to the vest.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

The assemblyman who represents Hoosick Falls is calling for a federal investigation after revelations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration knew about elevated levels of a toxin in the village’s water for a year and a half before residents were warned. Cuomo and his administration have come increasingly under fire for reacting too slowly to toxin-laced water in the small eastern New York village. Politico New York reported last week that documents obtained through the Freedom of Information...

File Photo
SUNY Polytechnic

Until recently, Alain Kaloyeros, leader of the SUNY Polytechnic Institute, has been the darling of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. But now, he’s one of the figures at the center of federal and state investigations into alleged pay-to-play schemes for economic development projects and is increasingly on the outs with the administration.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is proposing a crackdown on the coordination of candidates for office and super PACs that are created to support their campaigns. The super PACs, or independent expenditures, are permitted under the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision. Cuomo says while the ruling cannot be overturned right away without changes to the court, New York can act to make sure that super PACs really are independent. He says the groups have “become a mockery” and are used as a backdoor way...

stgermh / Flickr

Expectations for major ethics reform in the state legislature are low, even though both former leaders of the legislature are facing prison time for corruption. With just over a week to go before the session ends, only one measure — to take back the pensions of lawmakers who are convicted felons — seems to be in play. New York already has a law that says new legislators can’t keep their pensions if they are convicted of a crime. But in order to strip the pensions from convicted senators and...

Ryan Delaney / WRVO News file photo

Two western New York lawmakers have asked State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli to review Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Buffalo Billion economic development projects. The comptroller says an ongoing audit is already looking at some aspects of the increasingly controversial project and other Cuomo administration economic development initiatives that are currently under federal investigation. Over the weekend, Sen. Rob Ort and Assemblyman Ray Walter — Republicans whose districts in part include Buffalo suburbs ...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s inspector general has found that numerous security and oversight problems at the state prison in Dannemora contributed to the prison break of two inmates last year.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

Two bills to legalize and regulate daily fantasy sports and some other forms of gambling are moving through the state legislature, but anti-gambling groups say they should be stopped. Daily fantasy sports games were halted in New York after Attorney General Eric Schneiderman declared them illegal last fall. In March, Schneiderman settled with the major companies, Fan Duel and Draft King, saying the sites will continue to be banned until September unless the legislature acts to regulate the...

NY Assembly Video (file)

The state’s Assembly speaker confirms that federal investigators are looking into some of his actions while he was head of the Bronx Democratic Party, but he says he’s done nothing wrong. Carl Heastie says he knew he would be under scrutiny when he became speaker after his predecessor, Sheldon Silver, resigned over corruption charges. Silver has been sentenced to 12 years in prison. Heastie says he’s not surprised at the probe by the U.S. attorney into all of his financial transactions for...

governorandrewcuomo

It’s been over a month since Gov. Andrew Cuomo hired a special investigator in response to a federal probe of his Buffalo Billion project and other economic development programs. But so far, no contract with that investigator, Bart Schwartz, has been released, and questions remain about what exactly he is investigating.

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News

With just a few weeks left until the end of the legislative session, a new poll finds New York voters are still craving reform in state government, and they’d rather not see a new law to expand state gambling by legalizing daily fantasy sports. For the second month in a row, the Siena College poll reports that nearly 100 percent of those surveyed want something done about the corruption in Albany that’s led to both former leaders of the legislature sentenced to prison and the U.S. attorney’s...

Governor Andrew Cuomo / Flickr

The state legislature ends its session for the year on June 16, and expectations are low for any major pieces of legislation to be resolved before the adjournment, as Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration faces increasing scrutiny from the U.S. attorney over economic development projects.

Credit SUNY Polytechnic

Probes deepened into alleged corruption by former associates of Gov. Andrew Cuomo and former members of his administration, as the attorney general’s office conducted a raid at SUNY Polytechnic Institute offices in Albany Thursday afternoon. A spokesman for SUNY Poly says the college “cooperated fully” with New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s request to search an office. SUNY Poly confirms that the office had until recently been used by one of two people that Cuomo administration...

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

A board controlled by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the legislative leaders voted Wednesday to approve more than $485 million for the Buffalo Billion project. But there were some questions from board members about details of a program that is now under federal investigation. The vote to approve nearly a half-billion dollars in new funding for the Solar City factory in Buffalo was delayed for a week after the Assembly speaker and Senate leader said they lacked information about the projects. The...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo has released a bill to close a loophole that allows for unlimited big money donations to candidates. The LLC loophole has played a key role in the federal corruption trials of both former leaders of the state legislature, and may be a factor in the ongoing federal investigation of the governor’s economic development projects.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

It’s just over three weeks until the legislative session is scheduled to end, and hopes for reform are fading, during an unprecedented level of corruption in state government. Both former leaders of the legislature have been sentenced to prison terms. The U.S. attorney is investigating a close associate and former top staffer of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as well as the New York City mayor’s office. A new coalition of unions, progressive-leaning groups and reform advocates has formed to demand a...

James F Clay / Flickr

Almost 98 percent of school budgets were approved in statewide voting Tuesday, including the majority of school districts asking for overrides of the state’s mandatory property tax cap. Only a small number of districts attempted to get the 60 percent supermajority they need to override the tax cap and increase their spending. But of those 36 districts, more than three-quarters succeeded. The tax cap is based in part on the rate of inflation, which is near 0 percent this year. The New York...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says a key vote on the next installment of the Buffalo Billion project is merely postponed, not canceled, and he denies that he’s feeling defensive about the widening federal probe of his administration’s economic development projects. An obscure board controlled by Cuomo and the legislative leaders, known as the Public Authority Control Board, put off a meeting where they would have considered approving nearly $500,000 as part of the controversial Buffalo Billion project....

Thomas Favre-Bulle / via Flickr

School budget votes and school board elections are being held across the state Tuesday, and the New York State School Boards Association says more schools are seeking to convince voters to override the state’s tax cap. The school boards association says twice as many schools this year are seeking to override a state property tax cap that will limit many schools to a 1 percent tax increase or lower. It’s still not a large number -- 36 districts among the state’s approximately 700 school...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

With his former top aide facing a federal probe for potential conflicts of interest for consulting work, Gov. Andrew Cuomo has said twice now that he did not know what the former close associate of the Cuomo family was up to. Joe Percoco left state service earlier this year for a job at Madison Square Garden. But it turns out that the governor had not one, but two ways to know if his current or former top aides have any business deals that could present an ethical conflict. Cuomo initially...

Karen Dewitt / WRVO News File Photo

Another once-powerful New York state politician has been sentenced to prison. In federal court Thursday, Dean Skelos received five years for corruption; his son, Adam, got a 6½-year sentence.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News File Photo

Former Senate Leader Dean Skelos was sentenced to five years in prison and ordered to pay over $334,000 in restitution after his conviction on corruption charges. His son Adam got 6 ½ years.

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Every day for the past two weeks, news reports have focused on a federal probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration. It comes as both former leaders of the legislature are being sentenced to prison for corruption. Despite that, Cuomo and legislative leaders say they are trying to achieve some agenda items in the closing weeks of the legislative session. Cuomo, whose former top aide and an associate are under federal investigation for potential fraud, made a rare public appearance. He was not...

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Advocates for farm workers are trying a new route to gain the right to form a union and be allowed benefits afforded to other laborers in New York. They are suing the state government. Gov. Andrew Cuomo says he agrees with the farmworkers and won’t be defending the law in court. For decades, migrant farmworkers and their advocates have tried to get a law passed to place the laborers under the protection of the state’s labor laws, giving them the right to form unions, and collectively bargain...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

It’s been reported that subpoenas from the U.S. attorney in a federal probe of the Cuomo administration cover several of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s top staff and over two dozen companies doing business with the state. But Cuomo says his understanding is that the investigation focuses on just two people, who he has cut ties with.

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

State Senate Republicans in the Elections Committee cast a vote on closing a campaign finance loophole, which has played a role in recent corruption trials of the former leaders of the legislature. But the act could doom the measure for the 2016 legislative session. Campaign contributions from limited liability companies factored heavily in the corruption cases against both former leaders of the legislature. One of them, former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, was sentenced to 12 years in...

Karen DeWitt / WRVO News

Opponents of a planned fracked gas power plant in the Hudson Valley say they are hoping the U.S. attorney will investigate decisions made in the permitting process for the plan, now that it’s been revealed that the wife of a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo took payments from the lead engineering firm in the project, and that her husband is the subject of a federal probe. The activists, who include actor James Cromwell, say they’ve witnessed the years- long process to approve the power...

governorandrewcuomo / Flickr

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s explanation of some of the circumstances of a U.S. attorney’s probe into his administration has left some answered questions. Cuomo offered a brief explanation of his former top aide’s involvement in a scandal now encompassing his administration, saying the actions of Joe Percoco were perfectly legitimate. The governor says he knew that when Percoco left his $156,000-a-year job to manage Cuomo’s 2014 reelection campaign, that Percoco would also work for private clients,...

azipaybarah / Flickr

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison by a federal judge Tuesday. Over 100 family members, constituents and lobbyists wrote letters on behalf of the disgraced former Assembly speaker, Silver himself apologized in a letter, and his lawyers pleaded for mercy. Despite that, the judge, in addition to the prison time, ordered Silver to pay back $5 million he gained from illegal kickback schemes, as well as a $1.75 million fine. Silver will be allowed to keep...

Matt Ryan / New York Now File Photo

Former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was sentenced to 12 years in prison and told by a federal judge that he must give back $5 million that he gained from illegal kickback schemes, as well a pay another $1.75 million in fines. Over 100 family members, constituents and lobbyists wrote letters on behalf of the disgraced former Assembly speaker, and the disgraced former speaker and his lawyers pleaded for mercy. Dick Dadey, with the reform group Citizens Union, who waited outside the courtroom...

Pages