The Fitzpatrick-Cuomo Connection
Governor Cuomo has repeatedly pointed to Moreland Commission Co-Chair William Fitzpatrick’s statement Monday that there was no interference in the commission’s work. Fitzpatrick said in part Monday,
If I or my co-chairs or any other commissioner had been told or ordered not to pursue a sensitive topic, I can state with a high degree of certainty that we all would have resigned. That never happened.
The Governor has offered this statement up as proof that his aides did nothing wrong, and ultimately the commission acted independently. On Monday Cuomo said,
The question is but did they act independently. Chairman Fitzpatrick says 100%. And by the way, if anyone tried to jeopardize my independence I would have quit. By the way, if you know Fitzpatrick, you know that he would have quit.
Now, the New York Times claims U-S Attorney Preet Bharara sent a warning letter to about potential witness tampering and obstruction of justice. The implication is that members of the Administration may have leaned on Fitzpatrick and others to publicly assert their independence and defend the Governor. Ties between Cuomo and Fitzpatrick are extensive. To get a glimpse at their familiarity, one need only listen to Cuomo’s press conference in Buffalo Monday where he referred to the Moreland Co-Chair as “Fitz.” (I have a friend named Fitz too. He’s a great guy, although he can be a tad ornery at times. I think everyone has a “Fitz” actually, at least in modern day America ).
But here is where this gets interesting. Fitzpatrick’s wife, the Honorable Diane Fitzpatrick is a Syracuse Court of Claims Judge. She was first appointed in 1998 by Governor Pataki. And guess what? She is up for re-appointment for another 9-year term in 2015 by Governor Cuomo, should he be re-elected. Some believe that has at the very least the appearance of a conflict, especially in light of William Fitzpatrick’s flip-flopping public statements. Hence the letter from the U-S Attorney.
In fact, there are a handful of Syracuse area Republicans with close ties to the Cuomos. The Fitzpatricks, J. Patrick Barrett and Joanie Mahoney, all of whom served on the Moreland Commission. Mahoney, even threw a fundraiser for Cuomo earlier this month. Mohoney came forward to defend Cuomo last week, telling TWC News,
No one ever, in my presence, ever said we can or can’t do anything. Whether there were problems, I would put them in the category mostly of personality problems. I think there were some people who had a difficult time getting along.
So, what do these connections prove? Nothing in and of themselves. But what do they look like? That’s a whole other question. There is a saying in politics…does something pass the smell test. If it doesn’t, it has the potential look and smell really awful.
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