Three Reasons Why Moreland Won’t Stick, And Why It Might
From the morning memo:
It’s probably too early to determine whether the ongoing controversy surrounding the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption will be a scandal of Spitzer-esque proportions.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino certainly hopes that will be the case.
Astorino has been quick to capitalize on the latest revelations this week reported extensively in The New York Times and elsewhere that Cuomo and his office meddled in the anti-corruption panel and the direction of its subpoenas.
Indeed, for a week that began with Cuomo holding a 37-percentage point advantage in the poll as well as $33 million more in campaign money, the swing at the outset seems dramatically to be in Astorino’s favor, who is calling the story a “game changer.”
Cuomo is yet to make any public appearances this week to address the matter — a fact Republicans are pushing with gusto.
But consider a few things:
1. The same Siena College poll taken before the Times published its story showed most voters list jobs, taxes and education as top concerns for them in this election season. Corruption came in at 1 percent. For any of this to matter, voters are going to have to care that Cuomo and his top aide pressured state lawmakers into passing a compromised ethics package through the use of an otherwise esoteric lever of power at the governor’s disposal. The story dropped in the middle of the summer, right as voters head to the beach or go on vacation. Parsing through stories about political heavy handedness is one insiders tend to eat up. But it’s also not easily translatable to, say, a governor soliciting high-end prostitutes or aides closing down bridge lanes to exact a measure of political revenge.
2. We don’t know — yet — if any laws were broken. All of this could change as U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office digs into Cuomo’s handling of the commission. For now, the question remains whether Cuomo’s office illegal abused power after commission members made deputy attorneys general. If no laws were broken, there’s a lot of smoke, but not necessarily any fire.
3. Through all of this, Cuomo still maintains nearly all of the advantages of being a Democrat in a Democratic state. He has $35 million in the bank. He has higher name recognition than Astorino. He has all the trappings afforded to an incumbent. Astorino, meanwhile, has bounced from media appearance to media appearance, ranging from Fox and Friends (hello, Republicans!) to MSNBC (hello, Democrats!), but is still likely be heavily outspent by Cuomo and the state Democratic Committee.
That being said, here are three reasons why all of this could matter:
1. Let’s give voters some credit! The saga could very well count against Cuomo as more than just a black-eye, but as Josh Benson wrote in Capital, an administration-defining moment for a governor who is known by insiders to twist arms in order to get what he wants. Yes, The Daily News’ Ken Lovett reported a broad swath of the blocking of the Moreland subpoenas last year. But splashing the dirty laundry of the Moreland Commission all over A1 of the Times and in such depth is the first exposure many casual observers will get to Cuomo’s way of using power.
2. Even no indictments are made, having an ambitious and dogged U.S. attorney look into the Moreland mess is not a good thing for Cuomo, who relished his role as a corruption-buster as attorney general for four years. A drip-drip-drip of subpoenas and grand jury testimonies or interviews will keep Astorino, Democratic hopeful Zephyr Teachout and reporters busy through the summer.
3. If the odds hold and Cuomo is re-elected, he will likely face a vastly altered landscape in Albany come 2015. Republicans — including lawmakers he’s very closely with in the state Senate — may be out of power. An emboldened Democratic majority that has much to owe to New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio could be in place, and the moderate governor may have to alter his calculations when it comes to what he can get accomplished in term two. Lawmakers in Albany have an increasingly short end of the stick when it comes to leverage and budget-making in recent years. The Moreland Commission morass could be the first, tangible diminution of power for Cuomo at the Capitol.
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on July 25, 2014 at 9:27 am, and is filed under Andrew Cuomo. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|
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