Governor Cuomo criticized for shutting down Moreland Commission

Updated: 04/10/2014 5:52 PM
Created: 04/10/2014 5:25 PM WHEC.com
By: Rachel Spotts

Sharp words from a U.S. attorney criticizing Governor Andrew Cuomo after he shut down a commission that was fighting political corruption.

Governor Cuomo made the call to disband this commission less than two weeks ago. It's a move fellow democrat and U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is criticizing and now he's taking action.

Fighting political corruption -- that's the reason Cuomo says he formed the Moreland Commission so why shut it down? Cuomo said, “It was a temporary commission. I was not creating a perpetual bureaucracy.”

But with ongoing investigations, was the closure premature? The U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara says yes. That's why he's questioning the governor's decision and taking possession of all the panel's files to take over its investigations.

In a letter sent to the Commission's chairmen and top officials, Bharara says, “The sequence of these events gives the appearance, although I am sure this is not the intent, that investigations potentially significant to the public interest have been bargained away as part of the negotiated arrangement between legislative and executive leaders."

But Governor Cuomo says the Commission was always a temporary commission until the legislature passed tougher corruption laws. He said, “It was created to spur the legislation and I said repeatedly, when the legislation is passed the commission will be disbanded.”

Political analyst Timothy Kneeland says the governor's move is not a selling point for his re-election. “Certainly it does not help the governor who is up for re-election because no doubt the republicans are going to jump on this and say well really, did he really try to clean this up, or did he sell this commission out. So it's a political liability now for the Governor.”

Bharara's office is taking over the Commission's investigations. Bharara also says he's not ruling out an ethics probe into the governor's office.

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