Andrew Cuomo Investigated For Corruption In Blocking Investigations Into Corruption

from the incredible dept

For years -- since before he was NY State's governor -- we've raised questions about Andrew Cuomo's activities. When he was Attorney General, he often used that position to grandstand around various issues that sounded good politically, but were real world disasters. He browbeat ISPs into policing the internet, when they had no legal obligation to, with bogus threats of lawsuits -- even pushing them to install spyware to snoop on everyone's traffic. He was among the leaders of the group of Attorneys General who wanted to blame high-profile internet companies for the way consumers used them, and he tried to broker a "3 strikes" system to kick file sharers offline. Since becoming governor, he's been embroiled in a bunch of scandals, including having staffers use private email accounts to hide their work from Freedom of Information laws.

Now, however, things are heating up. The NY Times has reported that Cuomo's greatly hyped "corruption commission" appeared to be nothing more than a front group for Cuomo himself. That is, he seemed fine with it investigating "corruption" of others, but if it came anywhere near him or his friends, Cuomo's people ordered the commission to back away -- and they did. The crowning anecdote:
It was barely two months old when its investigators, hunting for violations of campaign-finance laws, issued a subpoena to a media-buying firm that had placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party.

The investigators did not realize that the firm, Buying Time, also counted Mr. Cuomo among its clients, having bought the airtime for his campaign when he ran for governor in 2010.

Word that the subpoena had been served quickly reached Mr. Cuomo’s most senior aide, Lawrence S. Schwartz. He called one of the commission’s three co-chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick, the district attorney in Syracuse.

“This is wrong,” Mr. Schwartz said, according to Mr. Fitzpatrick, whose account was corroborated by three other people told about the call at the time. He said the firm worked for the governor, and issued a simple directive:

“Pull it back.”

The subpoena was swiftly withdrawn. The panel’s chief investigator explained why in an email to the two other co-chairs later that afternoon.

“They apparently produced ads for the governor,” she wrote.
That last line is fairly incredible, isn't it? They don't even come up with any kind of excuse. They just admit that when the government asked them to stop digging into things involving his friends, they did. The NY Times article is incredibly damning, highlighting how Cuomo promised the committee would be totally independent, even directly saying that it was free to investigate him and his associates. But, the reality was quite different. And Cuomo doesn't seem to care. His response is that of course he was allowed to meddle in the commission's affairs since it was his commission. Here's what Cuomo said when the commission was set up:
Mr. Cuomo said early on that the commission would be “totally independent” and free to pursue wrongdoing anywhere in state government, including in his own office. “Anything they want to look at, they can look at — me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman,” he said last August.
Here's what his "office" said now in response to the NYT's inquiry about the story:
First, your fundamental assertion is that the Commission was independent. It wasn't. No Moreland Commission can be independent from the Governor's office. It is purely a creation of the Governor's power under the law, which vests subpoena power in the Governor or his designee.
Right. Furthermore, Cuomo's response is that it would be a conflict of interest for the panel to investigate the governor, since he had appointed them. Talk about a brilliant anti-corruption strategy. The prevailing party gets to appoint the panel, block its use against any friends or those in the ruling party, and then the panel can only target the Governor's enemies. Damn. That's sneaky. And obnoxious. And, well, it seems to us, incredibly corrupt.

Larry Lessig, who (of course) has been studying corruption, explains just how corrupt this whole thing was:
The corruption here is different — and much much worse. If an aid to the chief corruption reformer in NY has corruptly interfered with a corruption investigation, then NY doesn’t need that “corruption reformer” anymore — because that’s not what he is.

If this charge is true, then this is a governor who believes himself above the law. THAT is the keystone of corruption.
Lessig notes that Cuomo should resign over this scandal, though it seems unlikely that will happen. Either way, the level of corruption infiltrating our government these days is absolutely sickening. Federal prosecutors are apparently now investigating the situation, though, it's not all that often that those in power will take down "one of their own." Sure, it happens (pretty much all the time if you're in Illinois), but chances are Cuomo will skate by this one as well. Because that's how the system functions.

Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 3:34pm

    Oh look, yet another case the DOJ should be looking into, but will never touch given it would take real work, and involves a highly placed politician.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    AricTheRed (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 4:26pm

    It would seem

    That there is concrete articulable activity linked to the subject to nominate them to the selecte and no-fly list for their use of fear to manipulate government policy.

    Anyone want to second the motion?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:33pm

    Corrupt Cuomo

    Corruption is a pattern for Cuomo

    Andrew Cuomo and Fannie and Freddie:
    "How the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history gave birth to the mortgage crisis" ie-mae-and-freddie-mac/

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 6:52pm

    He won't resign. He'll be promoted into a higher power or higher paying position.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Stosh (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 7:39pm

    New York is so thoroughly a Democrat stronghold no amount of investigation will come to anything. It makes Tammeny Hall look like a bunch of amateurs.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 7:54pm

      Every single time...

      Every single time it gets me when someone brings out the party of a particular person, assigning or explaining the blame to that factor, as though either party has the monopoly on saints/sinners, and the other is filled with nothing but corruption/honesty.

      Learn to look past party affiliation, and you might be able to see that both parties have their share of corruption and bad actors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      nasch (profile), Jul 25th, 2014 @ 10:38am


      New York is so thoroughly a Democrat stronghold no amount of investigation will come to anything.

      He's being investigated by federal prosecutors, what does the NY Democratic system have to do with that?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 24th, 2014 @ 8:21pm

    Politician: n. Someone with an insatiable desire to have his or her cake, and eat it too.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Padpaw (profile), Jul 24th, 2014 @ 10:25pm

    just another petty king ruling his lands with an iron fist.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 5:37am

    If only the other liberal leaning 3rd parties hadn't endorsed Cuomo already. The corrupt bastard is very likely to win another term no matter how corrupt he is now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Personanongrata, Jul 25th, 2014 @ 12:17pm

    Neoptism, Cronyism and Favoritism... Oh My

    Andrew Cuomo's entire "career" in public service has been nothing short of failure shrouded in public relations talking-points.

    With out the benefit of his father, Mario as Governor of NY state from 1983-1994, Andrew would have never been afforded the positions he has attained based upon his own merit.

    Andrew Cuomo is another in a long line of worthless self-seekers riding on the coat tails of his daddy/mommy for his own personal benefit.

    The Moreland Commission being closed down by the Governors office is simply the latest example of Andy's malleable morals.

    It is no wonder the people of NYS suffer under the most oppressive and regressive tax regimes in the nation. Whether it be income, sales or property taxes the hard working men/women of New York can rest assured they are paying for Andy's tax breaks to his corporate benefactors while at the same time padding his resume.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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