Cuomo Responds To Bharara’s Letter: No More Commenting On Moreland
Gov. Andrew Cuomo responded in a statement Thursday to a letter from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office that warned against coaching potential witnesses in the ongoing probe of the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption and promised to end publicly commenting on the issue that has engulfed his administration.
The letter, reported this morning by The New York Times, came after commission members released statements backing up Cuomo’s argument that the anti-corruption panel was not interfered with by his office.
The statements were released on Monday this week and coincided with the governor’s first public comments to an extensive New York Times story that reported on the governor’s office’s involvement in the commission and efforts to block subpoenas to politically problematic areas.
Bharara’s letter reportedly warned the Cuomo administration would face possible witness tampering and obstruction charges stemming from efforts to reach out to commission members, who in turn publicly stated the anti-corruption panel remained independent of the governor’s office.
Cuomo on Thursday acknowledged the existence of the letter from Bharara’s office and that his office raised “concerns with relevant parties” in response to inaccurate reporting following the Times’ story.
“We are aware of the letter sent by the U.S Attorney for the Southern District. The New York Times published a story last week that generated a wave of news reports across the state, some with numerous inaccuracies, and we wanted to correct them,” Cuomo said. “We discussed these concerns with relevant parties.”
Cuomo added that due to Bharara requesting an end to a “public dialogue” he won’t have any additional statements to make on the Moreland issue.
“Several members of the Commission (District Attorneys and a law school dean) issued personal statements to correct the public record,” Cuomo said. “These statements reiterated comments they had made over the past year. As I believe the U.S. Attorney has made it clear that ongoing public dialogue is not helpful to his investigation, we will have no additional comment on the matter.”
The governor has publicly commented twice on the Moreland controversy since The Times story last week: On Monday in Buffalo and again Wednesday on Long Island.
Both times, Cuomo insisted the commission was an independent entity, and pointed repeatedly to a statement released on Monday by Commission Co-Chairman Bill Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County district attorney.
Updated: Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause, points out the letter from Bharara as reported doesn’t suggest the governor can’t speak with the public — and by extension members of the press — about the Moreland Commission mess.
“The United States Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, did not say as the Governor suggests, that “ongoing public dialogue is not helpful”. In fact his reported letter only proscribes communications between the Governor and the Moreland Commissioners. Public dialogue is what keeps our elected officials accountable, and the Governor must address voters’ concerns about his conduct,” she said. “The United States Attorney’s letter should not be used as a shield against the public or the press.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on July 31, 2014 at 2:33 pm, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|