From the Capital Tonight morning memo:
Last night the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption issued an addendum to its rather legalistic and vague statement earlier in the day.
The first statement, signed by the panel’s three co-chairs, announced it would move aggressively to “compel information” from the Legislature.
It was only a broad hint at issuing subpoenas to state lawmakers who have outside income and legal clients who may do business with the state.
By around 8 p.m., the update was sent and it was a lot more succinct. The commission announced subpoenas are coming for housekeeping committees — the tidy little moniker given to “soft money” accounts that can raise unlimited amounts of cash.
It was an Oprah-ish moment: “You’re getting a subpoena! You’re getting subpoena!”
“Today, in addition to the investigation into the legislature, the Moreland Commission has moved to look across the board at all housekeeping accounts,” the commissioners said in their updated statement. “Everything is on the table. We are looking at everything.”
This includes the state Democratic Committee’s housekeeping account, which swelled this year thanks to donations from hedge fund types like James Simons and financier George Soros, who backed the effort to publicly finance political campaigns.
Records show the committee spent $5.3 million on an ad campaign toward the end of the legislative session in Albany.
The soft money the Democratic committee held was used to fund an extensive advertising campaign featuring Cuomo that promoted his legislative agenda. The campaign was needed after the Committee to Save New York, a coalition of monied interests, disbanded this year.
Issuing a subpoena to everyone — from the Republicans, to the Independence and Conservative parties as well as the soft money accounts of the legislative conferences — comes after a spate of news reports found the commission declined to subpoena the Democratic Committee, the ethics regulator JCOPE and the Real Estate Board of New York, where a number of Cuomo donor allies sit.
In other words, the Moreland Commission looked awfully like what state lawmakers feared would be: A panel that’s being deployed to go after the Legislature and ignored Cuomo’s own campaign largesse.
Cuomo had been unclear when asked — multiple times — whether his staff working with the commission had any say in issuing or halting subpoenas.
Notably, Cuomo’s own $28 million war chest for next year — by far the biggest pot of money in the New York political game right now — is not being issued a subpoena.
But the move to fire all the subpoena torpedoes appears to be an attempt to inoculate the commission against the “witch hunt” charge that is sure to be levied by lawmakers in the coming days and weeks as they are served with subpoenas prying open their private income.
Whether this saves Moreland’s image remains to be seen — a lot of it depends on what it can find. The panel has pledged to release its preliminary report by Dec. 1.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on October 16, 2013 at 10:12 am, and is filed under Albany. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|