Cox: Cuomo ‘Corrupted His Own Anti-Corruption Commission’
The end of the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption — and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara subsequently assuming documents generated by the panel — could have political ramifications down the road for Gov. Andrew Cuomo as he runs for a second term.
And his Republican antagonists already started making it an issue over the weekend.
Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino knocked Cuomo for involving himself in the commission which, to be clear, is already a creature of the executive branch to begin with.
In Buffalo, Astorino said the end of the commission’s work so soon after the budget agreement, plus the reported involvement of Cuomo’s office in directing subpoenas, raises questions.
“I think what we’ve seen is Andrew Cuomo misusing a commission to be set up, which is supposed to weed out corruption and ethics violations, and he dangled that over the legislature’s head, and he admitted it to get what he wanted in the budget, and once he had that deal done, he stopped it,” Astorino told reporters.
Astorino added that Bharara “rightfully so” is picking up the investigations started by the commission.
Without outright accusing the governor’s office of wrongly interfering with the panel’s work, he said the complaints from commission members and staff that subpoenas were directed at times by Cuomo’s top aides.
“Was Andrew Cuomo excluding himself, were they interfering in subpoenas that may have been issued or investigations that may have been taking place with his friends or the executive branch? That is what we need to know. I hope this was not an abuse of power but clearly, absolute power corrupts absolutely and that’s what we’ve seen in this country,” Astorino said.
State Republican Chairman Ed Cox, who appeared alongside Astorino for a screening event in Buffalo, went further.
“The U.S. Attorney has now asked for all the papers, all the documents from the Moreland Commission, not only to continue the investigations that were started by the Moreland Commission, but to investigate the potential interference by the Governor of New York, with his own anti-corruption commission,” Cox said. “He corrupted his own anti-corruption commission.”
The chairman is straying outside of the lines here: There is no investigation of Cuomo or his office as indicated by Bharara, who told WNYC radio he was taking control of the documents from the commission to see where things he led. Bharara was asked if he was looking into Cuomo’s reported interference, but would not confirm that.
Still, the comments from Cox and Astorino show Republicans will likely continue to use the Moreland news to question not only Cuomo’s commitment to changing Albany’s ethical morass, but whether the governor overstepped his bounds to the point a federal prosecutor has become involved.
Cuomo has defended the decision to close the commission following an agreement in the state budget that includes new anti-corruption and anti-fraud measures, including a new independent counsel in the state Board of Elections to oversee campaign finance law violations.
Cuomo has said he did not want to create a “permanent bureaucracy” through the Moreland Commission, adding he had always made clear he would conclude the panel’s work once an ethics agreement was reached.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on April 14, 2014 at 11:09 am, and is filed under 2014. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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