It would appear that while Governor Cuomo laughed at the suggestion that his administration broke laws in their handling of the Moreland scandal, he clearly knew he was in trouble on the inside. The Daily News has reported that the governor and members of his administration have hired criminal defense attorneys.
Gov. Cuomo has lawyered up as the scandal over the handling of his anti-corruption commission has grown, the Daily News has learned.
Cuomo hired prominent white collar criminal defense lawyer Elkan Abramowitz in May to represent the governor’s office, sources told The News.
Cuomo’s top aides, Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz and counsel Mylan Denerstein, have also hired their own personal attorneys, the sources said. Cuomo separately has sought advice from several lawyers, the sources said.
Abramowitz confirmed to The News that he was hired to represent the executive chamber. He said he is serving in much the same role Denerstein might have filled if she wasn’t a potential witness.
Denerstein, who is set to soon leave the administration, is scheduled to meet with U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office sometime this month.
Abramowitz once served as an assistant deputy mayor in the city and was a chief of the criminal division in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office that is investigating Cuomo.
Cuomo’s office had no comment.
Earlier today, we reported on a letter issued by Bharara to Governor Cuomo, in which he suggested members of the administration could be charged with witness tampering or obstruction of justice.
Cuomo issued a statement saying he was aware of the letter from Bharara, but claimed he was simply trying to correct inaccuracies in reporting when members of his administration contacted several commissioners on the ethics panel.
We are aware of the letter sent by the U.S Attorney for the Southern District. The New York Times published a story last week that generated a wave of news reports across the state, some with numerous inaccuracies, and we wanted to correct them. We discussed these concerns with relevant parties. Several members of the Commission (District Attorneys and a law school dean) issued personal statements to correct the public record. These statements reiterated comments they had made over the past year. As I believe the U.S. Attorney has made it clear that ongoing public dialogue is not helpful to his investigation, we will have no additional comment on the matter.
The statement seems to provide a built-in excuse for the Governor to avoid the press and the public on the growing Moreland scandal. Susan Lerner of the good government group Common Cause responded that Bharara’s letter never suggested a cessation of public discussion. She added that, “Public dialogue is what keeps our elected officials accountable, and the Governor must address voters’ concerns about his conduct.”
Lerner also advised the governor to not use the U.S. attorney’s letter as an excuse to go silent on the Moreland scandal.