It has long been presumed that a federal corruption probe that has brought down several prominent lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in New York, is also investigating Governor Cuomo’s administration. Now, perhaps in an inadvertent backhanded manner, the administration has revealed they are indeed being investigated by the feds.
The IB Times reports:
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is blocking the release of details about transactions between the state and the governor’s top campaign donor. The state’s housing agency says it cannot release the documents because it is “cooperating” with a federal prosecutor’s probe of financial relationships between New York lawmakers and campaign donors in the real estate industry who have business before the state.
In rejecting an open-records request, New York officials disclosed the Cuomo administration’s connection to the probe: The letter denying the request specifically cited an exemption for documents involved in a law enforcement investigation. That is apparently the first time New York state officials have acknowledged Cuomo’s housing agency — as opposed to just state legislators — is involved in the investigation.
In recent months, the federal probe of influence peddling in Albany has resulted in the arrests of the New York legislature’s top Republican, Dean Skelos, and top Democrat, Sheldon Silver — the latter of which was charged with using his office to help his real estate industry donors. The new letter from Cuomo’s housing agency, which was obtained by International Business Times, moves to prevent the release of documents detailing state-supported loans to the real estate firm of Leonard Litwin. He gave more than $1 million to Cuomo’s Democratic gubernatorial campaign and is widely believed to be a central figure in the Silver case.
Yesterday, the New York Post reported how two witnesses who are cooperating with U.S. attorney Preet Bharara in his investigations show the feds are taking “a giant step closer to Cuomo.”
Additonally, the Cuomo administration’s rejection of the IB Times’ records request appear to violate the state’s open records law according to one government official.
“I think to characterize records that were prepared in the ordinary course of business, and which had been available before there might have been an investigation, as being transformed into having been compiled for law enforcement purposes, is ridiculous and contrary to the intent of the freedom of information law,” said Freeman, a government official whose agency is in Cuomo’s own Department of State.
Regardless of transparency, wouldn’t it be safe to assume that if there were no corruption taking place in the Cuomo administration, that they would have no problem disclosing details of housing agency loans to his top campaign donor?