Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Friday, July 18, 2014

Some Of What Preet Bharara Will Find In His Cuomo/Moreland Investigation

Liz Benjamin puts today's Cuomo/Moreland news in perspective:

And just what might Preet Bharara find when he interviews Governor Cuomo's counsel, talks to the assistant to former Executive Director of the Moreland Commission Regina Calcaterra and digs through the correspondences between Calcaterra's assistant and Cuomo's senior aides?

Well, let's start with this:

The commission, known as a Moreland Commission and made up, in part, of district attorneys around the state, responded on Monday to increasing questions about its independence by defending its work. It acknowledged that the offices of Mr. Cuomo and Mr. Schneiderman had given “input,” but said it was the commissioners’ “judgment and discretion that governs the commission and determines its action.” 

A spokeswoman for Mr. Cuomo, Melissa DeRosa, said that while the panel reported to both the governor and the attorney general, “ultimately all investigatory decisions are up to the unanimous decision of the co-chairs.” Mr. Schneiderman’s office had no comment. 
The commission’s relationship with the governor’s office has also been freighted. It issued a flurry of subpoenas at the start, but then was slowed by Mr. Cuomo’s office in several instances, according to people familiar with the situation who insisted on anonymity because they feared retribution by the governor. 

In one such instance, when the commission began to investigate how a handful of high-end residential developers in New York City won tax breaks from Albany, its staff drafted, and its three co-chairmen approved, a subpoena of the Real Estate Board of New York. But Mr. Cuomo’s office persuaded the commission not to subpoena the board, whose leaders have given generously to Mr. Cuomo’s campaign, and which supported a business coalition, the Committee to Save New York, that ran extensive television advertising promoting his legislative agenda. 

Frank Marino, a spokesman for the board, said it was “cooperating with the commission and will continue to do so.” 

“Obviously, there’s discussions,” said Mr. Marino, who added that the real estate board had had no conversations with the governor’s office or the commission about subpoenas. 

The commission also abandoned a plan to subpoena the State Democratic Party, which spent millions on advertising this year to support Mr. Cuomo. The subpoena was part of an investigation into loosely regulated spending on political advertising; as part of that inquiry, the commission issued subpoenas to the Senate Republican Campaign Committee and the State Independence Party. 

At a recent meeting, according to a person familiar with the exchange, one of the commission co-chairmen, William J. Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County district attorney, said that the panel would subpoena the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee rather than the state party; the Senate committee has not been a player in Mr. Cuomo’s campaigns. Mr. Fitzpatrick has said any claim the commission is not independent is “categorically false.” 

The commission’s decisions not to issue subpoenas to the real estate board and the state Democratic Party were first reported by The Daily News

One lawyer familiar with the commission’s work said the governor’s aides were having trouble leaving it to its job. 

“You can’t say this is an independent commission when you’re trying to tell people what they can do and what they can’t do,” the lawyer said. 

And Senator Liz Krueger, a Democrat from Manhattan, said, “If the governor stopped certain subpoenas from being sent, it is an outrage.” 

“If what was reported is true, that there are people in the governor’s office who have directed the commission not to follow through on subpoenas, that is worthy of its own investigation,” she said. 

Indeed, the governor's meddling into Moreland Commission work and his putting the kibbosh on subpoenas aimed at his donors and cronies is worthy of its own investigation.

The news of who and what Bharara has subpoenaed suggests that investigation into Cuomo may be getting done.

I don't want to get ahead of the story here but even looking at the stuff from the Times article I re-posted above, you'd have to say Cuomo can't be thrilled he's got a politically ambitious US attorney like Bharara looking into this.

Because just on the face of what's in the Times story, you can see that Cuomo and his people meddled in the work of the Commission, tampered with the subpoenas, and seemed to be trying to keep the Commission from looking into anything that might embarrass or cause problems for the governor.

That's what's on the surface.

Lord only knows what Bharara will find when he digs deeper.


  1. Maybe Bharara will someday take a peek at the exchanges between Cuomo and DFER/Moskowitz and their Boards in the lead-up to sand bagging De Blasio over charter schools and co-locations.

    There must be some very interesting information there about how power really functions in NYS.

    1. Would be interesting to see the US attorney in NJ probe Cuomo's doings in Bridgegate as well:

      Watching his relationship with Christie, methinks Quid Pro Cuomo works across the state border too.

    2. He is the Teflon governor. The media cover Christie's bridge misdeeds. But Cuomo's possibly more corrupt record? No attention.

      But we have Pro Publica to thank for exposing Cuomo's cozy relationship with the mortgage industry.

    3. It's not just in the media coverage. When I do Cuomo/corruption posts, they often get about 25% of the hits a Cuomo/education post gets. Don't know if people are just uninterested in the corruption posts, they are numb to stories of political corruption or what, but believe it or not, it's just not in the media coverage that Cuomo gets a free pass.