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Mixed Reaction to Administration’s Handling of Moreland

Gov. Cuomo last year trumpeted the formation of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, telling reporters that the group had free rein.

“Anything they want to look at, they can look at,” said Cuomo. “Me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman.”

That wasn’t the case as reports showed earlier this year in the New York Daily News as well as in Wednesday’s 5,000-word investigative report in the New York Times.

Instead, after months of in-fighting and reports of administration interference, Cuomo dismantled the commission with little more than a press release.

While the narrative offered by the administration was that many of the commission’s preliminary recommendations were adopted by the legislature, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District saw things differently. In April, on WNYC, Preet Bharara accused the Governor of shutting down the commission in an unseemly bargain with lawmakers.

It’s not clear whether Bharara’s office has subpoenaed anyone in the Cuomo administration, but others closely linked to the Moreland Commission have received subpoenas.

The Governor’s political opponents have latched on to the news: Republican candidate for Governor Rob Astorino told reporters that it was just a matter of time before criminality surfaces.

Zephyr Teachout, a long-shot hopeful for the Democratic nomination for Governor told the Capitol Pressroom, “That is a basic violation of the democratic premise that all laws are equally applied.”

As of this writing, since the Times story was published on Wednesday, the Cuomo administration hasn’t commented.

However, in a 13-page response to a reporter’s questions, also published by the Times, the administration defended its position by saying the paper’s premise “is legally, ethically and practically false – the Commission wasn’t independent”.

Some of the Governor’s allies are coming to his defense.

State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, the leader of the mainstream Democrats told the Capitol Pressroom on Wednesday that she understands the administration’s viewpoint.

“I see the argument that it was the governor’s commission, it was staffed by him, and they served at his pleasure,” she said. “I see they wouldn’t necessarily be investigating the governor.”

The Senate Democrats are hoping the popular governor will help them win control of the senate in November.

“The governor is popular because the governor gets things done,” Stewart-Cousins said. “He wins, people like him. People believe he’s really moving New York State forward. I think his intent is always to make New York again the Empire State.”

In the latest Siena Poll, Governor Cuomo had a 37 percent point lead over Republican Astorino.

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