ALBANY—Governor Andrew Cuomo said in a televised phone interview that criticism of his handling of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is “a lot of political baloney,” and took a swipe at U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who inherited the commission's files and is investigating the circumstances of his demise.
“I don't know,” Cuomo told Fox Business Network host Maria Bartiromo, who has appeared as an M.C. at award ceremonies for state economic development funding, when asked about the ongoing probe.
After noting that he used to be a prosecutor, Cuomo said, “Prosecutors are a lot better at starting investigations. You don't very often hear about closed investigations. But whatever he thinks is right, is right.”
The insinuation from Cuomo here is that the investigation by Bharara into Cuomo's handling of the commission is also "political baloney," which is a nice way of Cuomo saying he thinks US Attorney Preet Bharara is full of shit.
Jimmy Vielkind, who wrote up the article for Capital NY, notes that Cuomo refuses to say whether he or any members of administration have been subpoenaed in the investigation.
Vielkind also notes that Cuomo, in the gentle, cradling hands of his friend Maria Bartiromo on Fox, offered a new rationale for why he shut down the Moreland Commission:
The governor repeated a new narrative of the commission, which was disbanded in April after legislators agreed to tighten campaign finance disclosure and enforcement, change the bribery statute and enact a pilot program of public campaign finance covering the state comptroller's election.
“It was shut down, Maria, because I said it was going to be shut down as soon as the Legislature passed the law that I was going to accept,” said Cuomo.
Vielkind dispenses with that narrative in his Capital NY piece:
While administration aides began quietly using the commission as a bargaining chip even before the December release of its preliminary report, Cuomo instead chose to emphasize the commission's independence in his public rhetoric. Cuomo introduced the idea that it was only a leverage-creating exercise only after reports that exposed his administration's management of the ostensibly independent entity.
A couple of things to say here:
First, Cuomo's lashing out more and more these days, at teachers, at federal prosecutors, that you have to think he's really feeling frustrated about the direction of his political career and life.
Second, while he can probably get away with lashing out at teachers (let's be honest - teacher bashing is a time-honored tradition for political demagogues and/or con men like Cuomo), I'm less convinced lashing out at the U.S. attorney is such a good idea.
Teachers can write nasty things about Cuomo on the Internet and perhaps put together a movement to try and oppose him in his coming assault on public schools.
But the U.S. attorney can indict him or those around him and make his next four years very, very uncomfortable.