The Democratic leaders of the Legislature may seek to turn the tables on Gov. Cuomo by formally requesting that his anti-corruption Moreland Commission probe Lt. Gov. Bob Duffy’s “questionable’’ dealings with a Rochester business group, The Post has learned.
Aides to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (D-Manhattan) and Senate Independent Democratic Conference (IDC) Leader Jeff Klein, of The Bronx, are discussing the move with Republicans in response to what they call Cuomo’s illegal effort to have his Moreland panel probe lawmakers’ dealings with clients at their private law firms.
Duffy, a former Rochester mayor, is under intense scrutiny after the recent revelation that he secretly interviewed for a lucrative job at the Rochester Business Alliance (RBA) at a time when he headed a program to award hundreds of millions of dollars in regional economic-development grants.
That revelation produced seemingly contradictory statements by Cuomo, his aides and Duffy over the timing of the interview and what Duffy had told the governor about it.
“The question the Moreland Commission should answer is: What did the governor know and when did he know it,’’ a senior legislative aide told The Post.
“There are a lot of questions about Duffy’s dealings that need to be answered,’’ the aide said.
State Republican Chairman Ed Cox last week called for the panel to probe Duffy, saying that if the lieutenant governor failed to tell Cuomo he was seeking the RBA job, “that would represent a major violation of state ethics laws.’’
If Silver and Klein, whose four-member “independent’’ group has joined Senate GOP Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau) in a governing coalition, side with Republicans seeking a Moreland probe of Duffy, an all-out political battle would likely ensue.
And what are the chances of an all-out political battle between Cuomo and the legislature in an election year?
Meanwhile, Cuomo is gearing up to make the Legislature’s ethics a central theme of his re-election campaign next year.
“The governor will focus on an ethics package right through the [next] legislative session and if it’s not completed, he will make it a litmus test for next November,’’ a Cuomo administration source said Sunday.
“The governor will run against any legislator who doesn’t support a final [ethics] package, Democrat or Republican,’’ the source continued.
The source called Klein’s apparent willingness to join with Republicans on several issues including the Moreland Commission, “a fundamental betrayal of the Democratic Party.”
He said members of Klein’s IDC would be “prime targets’’ of the governor’s attacks.
“The governor thinks the IDC members are most vulnerable in Democratic primaries as traitors to the Democratic Party,’’ the source continued.
These Democrats who sided with Republicans to give the GOP power in the State Senate had Cuomo's approval and backing up until now.
In fact, Cuomo wanted the GOP to have control of the State Senate because it made pushing through his pro-business, anti-union agenda much easier after his election.
But now that those "independent" Dems backing the GOP no longer serve his interest he has turned on them.
Will h get away with it?
You can be sure the "independent" Dems who once did his bidding and are now under attack from him are not happy about it.
And since Cuomo is as vulnerable to ethics charges as they are, Cuomo opens himself up to a whole host of problems during his re-election year.
Even as Cuomo berates the legislature for hiding their outside incomes, Cuomo hides his donor list.
Don't think that the crooks in the legislature aren't unaware that the crook in the governor's mansion is as crooked as they are and won't be willing to use that against him.
Also, note how the "independent" Dems are now looking to undercut Cuomo's agenda.
Should be an interesting year in Albany.