Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Cuomo And His Aides Under Federal Investigation For Moreland Commission Meddling

That's one of the takeaways from the NY Times' extraordinary expose on Cuomo's Moreland Commission meddling that appeared today:

The commission developed a list of promising targets, including a lawmaker suspected of using campaign funds to support a girlfriend in another state and pay tanning-salon bills. The panel also highlighted activities that it saw as politically odious but perfectly legal, like exploiting a loophole to bundle enormous campaign contributions.

But a three-month examination by The New York Times found that the governor’s office deeply compromised the panel’s work, objecting whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.

Ultimately, Mr. Cuomo abruptly disbanded the commission halfway through what he had indicated would be an 18-month life. And now, as the Democratic governor seeks a second term in November, federal prosecutors are investigating the roles of Mr. Cuomo and his aides in the panel’s shutdown and are pursuing its unfinished business.

Before its demise, Mr. Cuomo’s aides repeatedly pressured the commission, many of whose members and staff thought they had been given a once-in-a-career chance at cleaning up Albany. As a result, the panel’s brief existence — and the writing and editing of its sole creation, a report of its preliminary findings — was marred by infighting, arguments and accusations. Things got so bad that investigators believed a Cuomo appointee was monitoring their communications without their knowledge. Resignations further crippled the commission. In the end, the governor got the Legislature to agree to a package of ethics reforms far less ambitious than those the commission had recommended — a result Mr. Cuomo hailed as proof of the panel’s success.

If this is what the Times could get through interviews and emails, you can imagine what the US attorney can get about Cuomo's meddling through subpoena.

And Preet Bharara sounds like that's exactly where he going with his investigation:

Mr. Bharara, the United States attorney, was deeply troubled. In his testimony at the commission’s public hearing in September, he had encouraged it to act aggressively, stand tough and safeguard their independence.

Now, some Moreland officials were concerned their work could wind up in the trash.
On April 9, Mr. Bharara and the head of his public-corruption unit met with the two remaining co-chairmen, Mr. Fitzpatrick and Mr. Williams.

Mr. Bharara was “laser-locked on the shenanigans from the second floor,” one attendee said. The prosecutor noted that the commission had been formed in response to the series of cases his office had brought against lawmakers — and observed how ironic it was that he was now looking into whether the governor had shut down investigations out of political expediency.

The next morning, in an appearance on WNYC radio, Mr. Bharara assailed the governor for shutting down the panel. It was an extraordinary rebuke.

Even as Mr. Bharara spoke, he said, his investigators were on their way to box up and cart off the commission’s files. Soon after, he directed Mr. Cuomo’s office to preserve records related to its own involvement with the panel.

I bet Bharara is going right at the REBNY and "Buying Time" subpoena meddling the Times article details.

Same goes for the Committee To Save New York donors list, which Cuomo kept under wraps and wouldn't let the Moreland Commission go near.

It's clear from the Times piece that Cuomo and his top aides did everything they could to obstruct Moreland Commission investigations into anything or anybody with connections to the governor himself.

Bharara picked up the Moreland records and those records will yield little investigative material into the governor's known donors, like REBNY, and the unknown ones, like the donors who gave to Cuomo's Committee To Save New York PAC.

But there will be a map of executive branch interference that Bharara can follow and investigate on his own.

What seems to matter most here is how far Preet Bharara wants to take his investigation into Cuomo's and Cuomo's aides interference into Moreland.

If he decides to follow all the leads that the Moreland Commission did not take because of Cuomo administration interference, that could spell a lot of trouble for Sheriff Andy Cuomo, the politician who rode into Albany claiming he would clean up corruption but who, in the end, just added to the rot.

That one Moreland Commission member said Bharara seems "laser-locked on the shenanigans from the second floor" (i.e., the governor's office) suggests Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has some trouble on his hands.


  1. "Buying Time?"

    It seems the Gods of Irony are getting involved in this one early, and Buying Time is probably the best thing our Reptiian Governor can hope to do right now.

    1. I wonder if he used Buying Time to make his vaunted Moreland commercial in which he says he "works for the people":