Previously undisclosed emails sent by a mortgage industry lobbyist doubling as a consultant for then-Attorney General Andrew Cuomo show the lobbyist played a self-described "critical role" in one of Cuomo's signature financial investigations.
The emails from 2007 and 2008 detail how the lobbyist, longtime Cuomo confidant Howard Glaser, was involved in an investigation of mortgage industry players that included Glaser's own clients.
In one email, Glaser touted his influence over a Cuomo deal that weakened rules to prevent misdeeds in the mortgage market. That deal, with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reflected Glaser's "significant, critical and current input," he wrote in an email, "a fact to which current (Fannie and Freddie) employees and the NYAG's office are prepared to attest." Fannie and Freddie were both Glaser's clients.
The emails contradict Glaser's previous account of his involvement in Cuomo's investigations.
ProPublica and the Times Union reported last year that Glaser had worked simultaneously as a consultant for the attorney general's office and for a bevy of mortgage industry firms. Glaser said at the time that he only gave general advice to Cuomo's office, that he did not represent clients with the attorney general, and that he was "not involved" in specific mortgage industry cases.
The emails, however, suggest Glaser was involved in mortgage industry cases, and traveled to Cuomo's office repeatedly over the course of nearly two years while the investigations related to Glaser's clients unfolded.
"Oy. I Spent the last 48 hrs at the NY AG's office and am glad to give you an off the record briefing and my observations," Glaser wrote in a Nov. 7, 2007, email to the federal regulator of Fannie and Freddie. The same day, Cuomo announced subpoenas of the two mortgage giants as part of an investigation into widespread conflicts of interest in the appraisal process.
"These emails on their face indicate a serious conflict of interest, a conflict that could very well have influenced enforcement actions by Cuomo, much to the benefit of Glaser's clients," said Craig Holman of the government watchdog group Public Citizen.
Glaser's years-old emails also show the importance of email preservation at a time when the Cuomo administration is under fire for instituting a policy that purges emails after 90 days unless they're actively retained. If the emails had been sent to or from Cuomo's current office or a state agency under the new policy, they likely would have been lost.
No wonder Cuomo wants to delete all those pesky emails after 90 days.
Then he doesn't have to worry about stuff like this surfacing in the newspapers or media.