Gov. Andrew Cuomo acted like a “mafia boss” when his office sought to provide input on the directions of subpoenas from the Moreland Commission, GOP candidate for governor Rob Astorino said in Syracuse.

“The public deserves straight-up answers,” Astorino said. “To suggest — he was suggesting to the commission members where they should go with an investigation is like a mafia boss coming forward and saying he wants to make a suggestion — an offer you can’t refuse. That clearly is intimidation and that’s what he and his staff did.”

The remark drew a swift rebuke from Democrats, who said the comparison was an offensive one to make toward an Italian-American officeholder.

Joe Morelle, the Democratic Monroe County chairman and Assembly majority leader who has close ties to Cuomo, blasted the comments, saying Astorino should be “ashamed of himself.”

“His comments are insulting and degrading to both the Governor and a state that boasts a proud Italian-American heritage. New York’s Italian-American’s are good, honest, working citizens who have contributed immensely to the cultural, social and economic development of our state,” Morelle said in a statement.

The comment is also a sore, personal subject for the Cuomo family. The governor’s father, former Gov. Mario Cuomo, was dogged by unfounded rumors of ties to the Italian mob. In 1992, then-presidential candidate Bill Clinton made a similar jibe at Mario Cuomo which was said in private.

Asked about the mafia comparison, Astorino said it was a joke, and noted he’s also Italian.

“It’s a typical joke,” Astorino said. “I’ve got an offer you can’t refuse, right? He’s saying he made an offer to help. I think they would say that’d be intimidation. It wasn’t a suggestion. It was a direct threat or an order to do that.”

Cuomo today in Buffalo insisted his office did not interfere in the Moreland Commission’s work, but acknowledged his top aide to offer “advice” to the anti-corruption panel.