Cuomo defends Moreland Commission

But Schneiderman backs away from investigation

Jon Campbell

Albany Bureau

ALBANY — Gov. An­drew Cuomo on Tuesday defended the work of an anti-corruption commis­sion he abruptly disman­tled last month, while state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman tried to distance himself from it.

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Kelly Donovan, one of Schneiderman’s top dep­uties and chief counsel for the now-disbanded Moreland Commission, had received a grand ju­ry subpoena from U.S. Attorney Preet Bhara­ra’s office, the lead fed­eral prosecutor for the lower Hudson Valley and part of New York City.

Cuomo faced criti­cism from Bharara ear­lier this month for end­ing the Moreland panel, which was investigating corruption in the state Legislature, before it was to issue a final re­port later this year.

When asked Tuesday whether he was aware of any subpoenas issued to Donovan or the More­land Commission, Schneiderman twice de­clined comment.

“I can’t comment,” Schneiderman told re­porters. “You guys can keep trying, but I can not talk about an ongoing in­vestigation.”

Bharara’s office de­clined comment, while Donovan did not re­spond to an email. The subpoena sought emails, text messages and other communications with members of the More­land panel about its work, according to The Times.

Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission in late March after state lawmakers — who had been fighting the panel’s authority to investigate them — agreed to a se­ries of reforms in the state budget, including tougher anti-bribery laws and a pilot program for matching small polit­ical donations with pub­lic funds. He launched the commission last year after lawmakers declined to pass a series of similar bills. The creation of the panel was meant to spur reform, Cuomo has ar­gued. In an essay Tuesday for The Huffington Post , Cuomo said that goal was ultimately accomplished.

“The Legislature passed the essence of our legislation just six months after staunchly refusing to act and New York now has real bribery laws, dis­closure, and enforcement at the Board of Elections,” Cuomo wrote.

It’s not clear whether Bharara’s office is inves­tigating the Moreland panel itself, or is follow­ing up on potential leads uncovered in the commis­sion’s halted investiga­tion.

In his op-ed, Cuomo said he has directed his administration to be “fully cooperative” with any prosecutors who are “following Moreland leads.” Cuomo didn’t say whether the commission itself had been subpoe­naed.

Four members of the Moreland Commission contacted Tuesday said they didn’t know whether the panel’s staff had been subpoenaed. One member, Rock­land County District At­torney Thomas Zugibe, criticized the ethics pack­age that was ultimately approved by lawmakers.

Zugibe, a Democrat, said he’s disappointed more of the recommenda­tions included in a 2013 re­port from the commission weren’t included. The re­port recommended a number of changes to the state’s campaign finance laws that ultimately weren’t passed, including the closing of a loophole that allows big-money do­nors to flout campaign do­nation limits by setting up multiple limited liability companies. “I think it provided a roadmap to reducing or eliminating corruption in the state,” Zugibe said in an interview with Gan­nett’s Albany Bureau.

Schneiderman, mean­while, attempted to dis­tance himself from the work of the commission. He spoke to reporters fol­lowing a news conference in an Albany suburb.


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1 Response to Cuomo defends Moreland Commission

  1. a12iggymom says:

    Reblogged this on U.S. Constitutional Free Press.


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