The Daily News is reporting that Governor Cuomo’s office has once again been caught meddling with an investigation, this time regarding an inquiry of a candidate for state Attorney General. The allegations have one insider asking if this is “the Moreland Commission all over again.”
According to the report, Board of Elections Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman included a Cuomo press aide in an e-mail correspondence to other BOE officials, regarding an inquiry involving candidate John Cahill.
Via the Daily News:
The head of a supposedly independent unit created to investigate state election law violations has kept Gov. Cuomo’s office in the loop about her work, the Daily News has learned.
Chief Enforcement Counsel Risa Sugarman included Cuomo press aide Richard Azzopardi in a Sept. 22 email she sent to four Board of Elections officials.
The email related to a pending inquiry over whether Republican state attorney general candidate John Cahill’s campaign should have publicly released an internal poll in its entirety after making a portion of it public.
“Please forward any material in reference to this matter to me immediately,” Sugarman wrote in the email, which in its header declared the importance of the message as “high.”
Sugarman, a Cuomo appointee, denies any interference on the part of his administration. Inclusion of Azzopardi in the e-mail however, led BOE commissioners to question the appropriateness of sharing the information on Cahill.
Insiders were left wondering:
“Did the governor not make assurances to the Legislature that he would appoint an independent person for the enforcement counsel? Is this the Moreland Commission all over again?”
Sugarman explained that she was using Azzopardi as her own press person in the matter, something the other commissioners also found questionable. Considering the Cuomo administration’s interference with the Moreland Commission, they felt it odd to keep Azzopardi in the loop on their own investigations.
The administration’s actions in meddling with the Moreland Commission, along with the aftermath have led to a federal investigation.
Sugarman, according to multiple sources, became combative at the line of questioning and told the commissioners that “I’ll use who I want to use” as my press person.
Just one day after corresponding with Cuomo’s press aide, Sugarman reversed a decision by the BOE to allow Cahill to submit partial poll results. On September 18th, the Board announced that they “are satisfied the Cahill campaign has meet the requirements of the board’s regulation.” On September 23rd, Sugarman was demanding the complete poll results within two days.
GOP Chair Ed Cox responded to the story:
“Andrew Cuomo promised to combat corruption, and he’s just been caught – again – manipulating government to serve his political interests. Rather than appoint someone truly independent, he appointed one of his own, who feels she needs to keep his political aides informed about confidential Board of Elections matters.”
“Just like power-hungry Eliot Spitzer, Andrew Cuomo just can’t help himself: he corrupts everything he touches, from JCOPE to the Moreland Commission to the Board of Elections.”
Tentacles of corruption seem to be everywhere when it comes to the Cuomo administration.