Fred Dicker's column today has three possible theories for why Cuomo is touting Biden, a move which is surely pissing off the Clintons and harming her at a time when she needs all the help she can get.
The first one is, Cuomo hopes to be Biden's VP if Biden were to win the nomination.
The third one is, Cuomo's looking to stick it to Bill de Blasio any way he can and touting Biden (and stealing away de Basio's minimum wage increase issue with Biden) was just another opportunity to do so.
I'm not sure I buy either of those theories, but Theory # 2 certainly seems plausible to me:
The second theory holds that Cuomo has been promoting Biden to put pressure on Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Southern District US Attorney Preet Bharara, and possibly Obama himself to block or terminate Bharara’s investigation of Cuomo’s shutdown last year of the corruption-fighting Moreland Commission and allegations he or his aides sought to interfere with the probe.
“There’s no way Preet would bring an action against Cuomo without Lynch and probably Obama himself signing off, and Biden would be right in the middle of that,’’ said a prominent New York City official.
Many Republicans also subscribe to that theory.
“Obama and his attorney general will make the decision on whether there will be a criminal prosecution of Cuomo, and one way of trying to avoid this is by embracing the vice president at the expense of Secretary Clinton,’’ said national GOP consultant John McLaughlin.
In court filings the feds made this week in the case against Sheldon Silver, prosecutors revealed that two out of the three Moreland Commission co-chairs and the chief of investigations all felt that Cuomo and his staff interfered into the commission's work.
The third co-chair, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick has defended Cuomo publicly but his wife is a judge who was up for reappointment by Cuomo, so his statements are a bit suspect, especially since the NY Times reported that privately he too complained of Cuomo's interference into the commission.
Theory # 2 is certainly plausible.
The Obama administration has circumvented investigations into pals before.
The one that immediately comes to mind is Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, the self-described "Little Obama":
As Deadspin notes, there's "a variety of sexual, financial, and ethical improprieties" swirling around Johnson. Among other things, the mayor is suing -- and being sued -- by the National Conference of Black Mayors. And Johnson is also accused of using public money and resources for his own personal benefit involving work done for the National Basketball Players Association.
That last scandal is particularly interesting, because it mirrors accusations made against him in 2009, when he was accused of misusing federal grants meant for the Americorps program by Gerald Walpin, the inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service:
The most significant issue appeared to be Mr. Walpin’s actions in connection with St. Hope Academy of California, which was run by Mr. Johnson and Dana Gonzalez. St. Hope Academy received federal money from 2004 to 2007 from AmeriCorps. Mr. Walpin said a large amount of the money was spent improperly, some of it on personal expenses.
Mr. Walpin made a referral to the United States prosecutor in Sacramento, recommending that Mr. Johnson and Mr. Gonzalez face criminal charges and be banned from future contracts.According to Walpin, the chairman of the board of the Corporation for National and Community Service, Alan Solomont, was a major Democratic fundraiser and was unhappy with his reports pointing out the misuse of federal money. Johnson was also said to be close to the Obamas, and shortly afterward the president abruptly fired Walpin from his job. The firing set off a flurry of inquiries from a bipartisan group of senators concerned that Walpin's firing had been been politically motivated. There were also allegations that the U.S. attorney in Sacramento, Lawrence Brown, filed an ethics complaint against Walpin to help lift a ban on Johnson receiving federal funds as well as curry favor with the White House. Brown was seeking a presidential appointment to become United States attorney for the Eastern District of California.
Now Johnson remains mired in scandal six years later and is being accused of allegations of corruption very similar to what was first alleged by Walpin. And in the intervening years, the Obama administration has acquired quite the reputation for selectively enforcing laws against compromised allies and for the vigorous prosecution of political enemies on dubious grounds. Johnson's current troubles certainly suggest that the president was wrong to fire Walpin, and are an unpleasant reminder of the Chicago-style politics that have come to define this administration's questionable uses of political power.
Cuomo's interference into the commission - including the potential that Cuomo short-circuited the commission in a quid pro quo deal with either Sheldon Silver, Dean Skelos or both - leaves him open to at the very least an investigation by the feds.
From the KJ/Walpin scandal, it's pretty clear Obama will step in to help a pal out of some legal trouble and it's quite plausible that's what Cuomo's counting on here with the Biden bromance.
It's also plausible that Cuomo's just hedging his bets as Clinton's poll numbers and chances at getting elected continue to fall.
But given the court filing on Friday revealing that two out of the three Moreland co-chairs and the chief of investigations felt Cuomo and his staff were interfering in their work, I lean toward Theory # 2 from the Dicker column.