Cuomo pushes back against report of tampering in corruption investigation
July 28th, 2014
05:02 PM ET
2 months ago

Cuomo pushes back against report of tampering in corruption investigation

Updated 5:21 p.m. ET, 7/31/2014

(CNN) - Gov. Andrew Cuomo defended the work of a commission designed to quell corruption in New York state politics against a report that his office interfered with the panel's investigation.

"By definition the commission took advice and opinion from many, many people," Cuomo said Monday in response to questions about a top aide's communication with the Moreland Commission, a group appointed last year by the Democratic governor.

Cuomo, who is up for re-election this year, underscored that a co-chair of the short-lived commission, attorney William Fitzpatrick, said the investigation was "100 percent independent."

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"It's called conversation and advice. This is a commission that was talking to all sorts of people," Cuomo told reporters after a speech on the economy at the University at Buffalo.

"Independence doesn't mean you get holed up in an ivory tower and you don't talk to anyone," Cuomo said, acknowledging that his aides did talk with the commission members but its independence was never compromised.

The New York Times reported last week that Cuomo's office opposed the commission targeting groups with ties to the governor.

In its quest to wipe out violations of campaign finance laws in the state, the commission issued a subpoena to a firm that had done advertising for Cuomo's 2010 gubernatorial campaign. According to the New York Times report, the governor's senior aide, Larry Schwartz, then pressured the commission to withdraw that order.

Now, the U.S. Attorney is calling into question the validity of the commissioners' statements in defense of the investigation, reportedly sending a letter to the governor's office that warned of possible obstruction of justice and witness tampering.

The New York Times reported that the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York said in the letter that it has reason to believe people with ties to the governor contacted commission members to influence their public statements made earlier this week on the credibility of the commission.

Cuomo's office responded to the letter on Thursday saying they are aware of the letter and have had discussions with the "relevant parties."

"The New York Times published a story last week that generated a wave of news reports across the state, some with numerous inaccuracies, and we wanted to correct them. We discussed these concerns with relevant parties," the statement said.

"Several members of the Commission (District Attorneys and a law school dean) issued personal statements to correct the public record. These statements reiterated comments they had made over the past year."

The commission's termination has also been called into question since it was abruptly ended earlier this year. The U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York is looking into why the commission was ended as well as the commission's unfinished work.

Cuomo insisted Monday that the commission had served its purpose after the assembly passed a set of ethics laws, and that's why it was discontinued.

"It was not dismantled," he said in response to a reporter's question. "By design we said the commission has one purpose, to get an ethics law passed."

CNN's Steve Brusk contributed to this report.


Filed under: Andrew Cuomo • New York
soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. yolanda

    Albany= sleaze. Say goodbye to national aspirations Gov. Cuomo. When the NYT calls you out, you have a problem that you can't bully your way out of.

    July 28, 2014 05:22 pm at 5:22 pm |
  2. it must be said

    I can hardly wait for the non-stop, months on end coverage of this like we got with that stupid bridge nonsense. Wanna bet that won't happen?

    July 28, 2014 05:28 pm at 5:28 pm |
  3. Lynda/Minnesota

    Oh, hey. Here's the article you asked for, yolanda. Enjoy.

    July 28, 2014 05:35 pm at 5:35 pm |
  4. yolanda

    Thank you, Lynda, but i do believe it is worthy of more than an article. It will be entertaining to see how much coverage this gets.

    July 28, 2014 05:40 pm at 5:40 pm |
  5. Robbie

    Boy....can't wait for Chris Cuomo to use his journalist skills to drill the gov on this!!!

    July 28, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    yolanda
    Thank you, Lynda, but i do believe it is worthy of more than an article. It will be entertaining to see how much coverage this gets.

    No problem. I personally would rather we Americans had less corruption going back and forth between the party's.

    July 28, 2014 05:54 pm at 5:54 pm |
  7. salty dog

    Which bridge, the one that he closed, resulting in a death, because the ambulance couldn't get there in time, or the one he sold to investors as a train, which is illegal. But, hey, you say witch hunt, we hear you, loud and clear, maybe he should spend more taxpayer money on another legal team. Lmao, he was your only hope, now your screwed, bad!

    July 28, 2014 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. Wes

    cuomo is a disaster.

    July 28, 2014 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  9. larry

    Cuomo lies like Obama and the Obamaphiles in NY will vote him back in. Disgusting.

    July 28, 2014 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  10. Mario

    Cuomo has been strong arming all officials, both senators and other politicians by threatening them directly with inaction of their needs if they did not vote his way! This is well known within the Assembly. Fact! The Commission had a few honest people who followed through when their investigations led them back to Cuomo. Cuomo thought that the commission would investigate, and he could have a playbook of dirt to use against anyone who disagreed with him. This is called Racketeering ! Recently the State Assembly voted 100% for another three year Moratorium against drilling here in NY. Since when does a body that large agree 100% for anything, unless they were intimidated! THIS MOB BOSS POLITICIAN NEEDS TO GO NOW!!!!

    July 28, 2014 07:14 pm at 7:14 pm |
  11. Thomas

    A knife , a fork and bottle and a cork ,

    That's the way you spell NEW YORK .

    July 28, 2014 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  12. The Real Tom Paine

    yolanda, this is hardly the smoking gun you have been screaming for. There is no pattern of systematic abuse of power, as was clearly the case with Christie.

    July 28, 2014 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  13. Deep Fried Beans

    Cuomo just needs to claim that all his records were on a computer and the hard drive crashed. Thanks to Obama's cronies in the IRS and the throngs of Obama-cult members, blatant destruction of evidence is a fully accepted practice.

    July 29, 2014 06:04 am at 6:04 am |
  14. J Anthony

    Cuomo the DINO, probably not goin 2 get out of this one, as its so obvious what's going on here. Even if he does weasel out of it, he's done as far as the public is concerned, not that most didn't realize he's a neoliberal corporate centrist anyway, same as the Dem/vRepub establishment

    July 29, 2014 06:15 am at 6:15 am |
  15. its the gop for me

    Not another corrupt governor, please! The better question is, are there any governor's not blatantly corrupt?

    July 29, 2014 06:57 am at 6:57 am |
  16. sifto77

    NYT is turning on a democrat? Lets have more daily articles like the great " BRIDGEGATE" scandel...which turned out to be fiction..

    July 29, 2014 07:22 am at 7:22 am |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Responses by Cuomo and his staff have been inconsistent and evasive. Not good. He just lost a few points on my card.

    July 29, 2014 07:56 am at 7:56 am |