Perdido 03

Perdido 03

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Prosecutors Say Moreland Leaders Felt Cuomo Interfered In Commission

And suddenly Cuomo's Moreland Commission interference is back in the spotlight, courtesy of Weiser, Kaplan, and Craig at the NY Times:

Senior officials of a state anticorruption commission abruptly shut down last year by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo have told federal prosecutors that they believed he and his staff intervened in its operations “in a manner that, at times, led them to question the independence” of the panel, the prosecutors said in a recent letter.

The letter, which briefly summarizes the officials’ statements, was attached to court papers filed on Friday night by lawyers for Sheldon Silver, the former Assembly speaker, as he prepares for his corruption case in federal court in Manhattan.

The officials have not spoken publicly about the involvement of the governor’s office in the operation of the panel, which was known as the Moreland Commission. Their statements to prosecutors are in contrast to Mr. Cuomo’s assertions last summer that his office did not inappropriately intervene in the work of the panel, which he created in July 2013 and abruptly disbanded nine months later.

The government says in the letter, which is dated July 29, that the statements about the actions of Mr. Cuomo and his staff came from “various members and staff” of the commission — including two of the panel’s three co-chairs and its chief of investigations.
The former commission officials whose statements about Mr. Cuomo and his staff are summarized in the government letter include the panel’s two other co-chairs: Kathleen M. Rice, now a Democratic congresswoman from Long Island and the former Nassau County district attorney; and Milton L. Williams, Jr., a partner at the law firm Vladeck, Raskin & Clark. 
They and the third official, E. Danya Perry, who was the panel’s chief of investigations, all declined to comment on Saturday.

Cuomo has one co-chair shilling for him:

An investigation by The New York Times published in July 2014 showed that Mr. Cuomo’s office had hobbled the Moreland Commission’s work, intervening when it focused on groups with ties to the governor or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.

In response, Mr. Cuomo said that his office had merely offered advice to the panel, which he said possessed “total independence.” He repeatedly cited a statement released by one of the panel’s three co-chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County district attorney, who said that “nobody ‘interfered’ with me or my co-chairs.”

On Saturday, Mr. Fitzpatrick declined to comment on the court filing, saying he was not privy to the exact substance of what was said in the interviews between prosecutors and the individuals in question. He added that there remains in his mind a big difference between interference and attempted interference.

“Every conversation I had with Governor Cuomo during my tenure on Moreland regarding our mission was supportive on his part,” he said.

Two co-chairs and the chief of investigations for the commission say Cuomo and his staff interfered in the commission's work, one says he didn't.

That one who says he didn't has a wife who is up for reappointment to a judgeship, so let's just say his word about what Cuomo and his staff did or didn't do with the commission is suspect, especially because privately he said Cuomo was interfering into the commission:

But Fitzpatrick had privately fumed over interfering by Cuomo’s office, sending an e-mail to colleagues saying the office “needs to understand this is an INDEPENDENT commission and needs to be treated as such,” The New York Times said.

This is about Shelly Silver's case, there's no suggestion that Bharara is going to go after Cuomo or members of his staff for their interference in the commission's work.

But considering how vehemently Cuomo denied interfering in the commission and considering how he had statements drafted up for Moreland Commission members to say just that, it will be interesting to see what additional details we get about Cuomo's Moreland interference during Silver's trial.

Cuomo's been on a bit of a roll lately, putting de Blasio on defense, triangulating on various issues like Common Core and the minimum wage - suddenly the Cuomo corruption story is back in the news.

Let's see what effect that has on the roll he's been on.

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