Cuomo defends handling of corruption panel

Updated: 07/28/2014 6:21 PM
Created: 07/28/2014 2:39 PM WHEC.com
By: Amanda Ciavarri

For the first time, Governor Andrew Cuomo is answering questions publicly about the Moreland Commission. The Moreland Commission is a group he created to investigate allegations of corruption in state government. The group's actions have come into question following a New York Times investigation. They say its work was influenced by the governor and his office. 

The governor made it clear Monday that he disagrees with the New York Times article. He says the commission was 100 percent independent. Governor Cuomo calls the Moreland Commission a phenomenal success. He acknowledges that there were conversations from members of his office and the commission, but says they were just fact gathering conversations.

Meantime, the head of the Moreland Commission, released a statement Monday. In it, William Fitzpatrick admits that he told the commission to withdraw a subpoena for a Cuomo-allied group after talking with top Cuomo aide, Larry Schwartz. But Fitzpatrick says the commission sent the subpoena out three weeks later. Cuomo used this as an example of the commission’s independence.

Governor Cuomo said, “As a matter of fact, the best evidence of independence is when someone from the second floor says, ‘well, why don't you do this. The chairman says, “I'll think about it and then says, ‘I disagree, I don't want to do that. That is not a sign of interference that is the proof of independence.”

Rob Astorino, republican candidate for governor, said, “He said, ‘how it can be interference if I attempted to do it, but it didn't happen.’ It is such nonsense from this governor. He has to talk straight to the people. He needs to let us know what he knew, who he directed to do this. If it came directly from Larry Schwartz and him only, why is he still working there?”

Governor Cuomo says if commission members found leads they want to follow up on, they could do so in their current positions as law enforcement or prosecutors.

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