Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

US Attorney Subpoenas Moreland Commission Members, Cuomo Interference May Be Target

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has another day with no public appearances scheduled:

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is in Albany with no public schedule.

Perhaps he is in his office brooding over this news:

Federal prosecutors in Manhattan have issued a grand jury subpoena seeking emails, text messages and other records from all the members of the anticorruption commission that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo abruptly shut down in March, three people briefed on the matter said on Monday.

The action by prosecutors from the office of Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, comes just weeks after he took the unusual step of publicly criticizing the governor’s shutdown of the panel and took possession of its investigative files.

The subpoena, which was served on the commission’s former counsel, Kelly Donovan, seeks documents pertaining to the formation of the panel, known as a Moreland Commission, based on the 1907 Moreland Act. It also sought documents about how the panel was run, overseen and closed, according to the people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.

The issuance of the subpoena, and new details about recent meetings of several Moreland Commission employees and prosecutors in Mr. Bharara’s office, provided the strongest suggestion to date that the criminal investigation may be examining allegations of interference with the commission.

The investigation seems to be taking two roads - one of which looks closely at the Cuomo administration's interference into the Moreland Commission's investigations:

One avenue is a focus on following up on the investigations that were interrupted by the commission’s shutdown. Prosecutors have met with the commission’s former staff — some of them former prosecutors themselves — in preparation for taking up the unfinished investigations, according to several people briefed on the meetings.

Federal prosecutors also appear to be examining any actions that may have interfered with the panel’s operation. Prosecutors have asked the panel’s investigators and staff members about allegations of interference by Cuomo administration officials, including the governor’s top aides and his senior appointees to the panel, the people said.

Much of the questioning, several of the people said, has focused on the conduct of the commission’s executive director, Regina Calcaterra, who, they said, had repeatedly sought to prevent commission subpoenas that might reflect poorly on the governor from being issued and tried to divert investigators from focusing on his allies.

When federal prosecutors took possession of the commission’s documents and computers, they also collected the BlackBerry smartphones the commission had provided to its staff, the people said. In the commission’s early days, senior members of its staff were told to communicate with Mr. Cuomo’s aides only via BlackBerry PIN messages, not recorded on government servers.

Mr. Wing defended the use of PIN messages as “a common way that many people communicate in 2014.”

No wonder Cuomo got so shrill with Crain's when asked about the stories of alleged interference from his administration with Moreland Commission business - he's worried somebody with the power to take him down is out to do it.

Given all the stories of Cuomo administration meddling into Moreland business, including putting the kibbosh onto subpoenas aimed at Cuomo's donors, you know that if Preet wants to dig, he's going to find something dirty on Sheriff Andy.

Go get him, Preet.


  1. I wonder if the true story behind the massive charter school give-away in the budget bill gets revealed. It doesn't make sense that such sweeping concessions were made by the Assembly Democrats without even a single one of them voting no.

    1. Patrick,

      I was thinking the very same thing.

      The cover story is, Cuomo closed Moreland after he got the ethics reform package out of the legislature.

      But he had to be giving something to get those sweeping changes for charters, so I wouldn't doubt for a minute that a Moreland/charter trade wasn't worked out.

      Here's hoping Bharara really does want to get to the bottom of that story.

      Cuomo telling Preet through the press that there's nothing the US attorney can do to him because the Moreland Commission was "mine, my commission..." isn't going to throw Bharara off the trail, that's for sure!

  2. Cuomo got the charter legislation by "taking care of" Mulgrew and Weingarten - whatever that exactly means, and to be revealed by events over time - who by all rights should have been raising hell about it. That the UFT was silent during all of that is the tell, combined with the fact that Silver, in a message to people in his district, complained about the giveaways but said he had no support to back up his opposition.

    The UFT's passive acquiescence to the charter legislation, combined with the new contract's opening the door to "charter-lite" schools, shows that the UFT leadership has made its peace with co-managing the devolution and winding down of the public schools.

    In the lead-up to the 2008 financial crisis, bankers and credit raters who pointed out the insanity of what was going on were met with the acronym IBG YBG: "I'll be gone; you'll be gone."

    Since it seems to be the consensus that only saps and losers remain in the classroom, Weingrew expect go on to "better things" by then.

  3. Weingarten signed off in Newark and we are a few steps ahead of New York City on the road to complete charterization of the city.

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