What is the takeaway lesson from the Moreland Commission debacle? According to the New York Times it’s that when it comes to fighting corruption in Albany, Governor Cuomo can’t be trusted.
It was well under a year ago and with great fanfare that Governor Cuomo announced the formation of a Moreland Commission, declaring “we must root out corruption in politics and government.”
Fast forward to today, where it is apparently not that important any longer to fight corruption in politics and government. Cuomo’s Moreland Commission is no more.
Via the Times:
Nine months ago, Gov. Andrew Cuomo looked New Yorkers in the eye and said, “Trust is everything to me.” Don’t believe it.
Mr. Cuomo uttered those words in a campaign-style TV ad announcing that he was creating an independent Moreland commission of “top law enforcement officials” to “investigate and prosecute wrongdoing” in New York State politics. “The politicians in Albany won’t like it,” Mr. Cuomo said, “but I work for the people, and I won’t stop fighting until we all have a government that we can trust.”
Well, Mr. Cuomo stopped fighting. He has pulled the plug on the commission. Its website still promises the delivery of a report or reports by next January, but that’s not going to happen. Whatever records, files and leads it has accumulated over nine months have been taken away in trucks sent by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara.
Mr. Bharara said on Thursday that he was taking over the commission’s work, with a sharp rebuke to Mr. Cuomo for dismantling it so early.
There was little to suggest that the commission was actually seeking to root out corruption in the first place. Despite Democrats being the overwhelming source of corruption in the Empire State, Cuomo’s panel was going after Republicans almost exclusively.
In October, the reported that the commission itself had killed a subpoena to the Democratic Party, looking into funds in a “housekeeping” account, used to promote the Governor’s legislative agenda. Subpoenas were successfully sent to Senate Republicans and the Independence Party, but Democrats went unscathed.
The anti-corruption panel was looking at ways to disband back then, only three months into their formation, in part because of the Governor’s meddling ways.
Via the New York Times:
When Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo created the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption in early July, he promised a muscular response to bad behavior by legislators that included allegations of bribe taking, favor trading and embezzlement.
But three months later, according to people familiar with the commission’s work, the effort to investigate corruption in Albany is burdened by resistance from the Legislature, which has refused requests for information about lawmakers’ outside income, and by unexpected involvement by the governor’s office, which has leaned on the commission to limit the scope of its investigations.
That interference just might come back to haunt Governor Cuomo. In a radio interview, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara refused to rule out an investigation of Cuomo himself, to.find out if he improperly interfered with the work of the Moreland Commission.
Via the Daily News:
A federal prosecutor is giving Gov. Cuomo an election-year headache.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara refused Thursday to rule out probing whether Cuomo improperly meddled with his own anti-corruption commission.
“We’re going to look at the documents, we’re going to see what the facts are, and if there are questions that are appropriate to ask…there are strong-willed and aggressive — but fair — people in my office who will ask those questions,” Bharara said on WNYC’s “The Brian Lehrer Show.”
The News ran a series of stories last year detailing allegations that Cuomo’s office interfered with which subpoenas the panel sent out.
Bharara intends to keep up the work of the Moreland Commission, rooting out public corruption in New York. Most media outlets are cheering Bharara’s continued efforts.
Cuomo however, is being shredded. The New York Times surmised, “We’re still waiting for a government we can trust, but Mr. Cuomo has moved on.”