It became abundantly clear last week that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is not the person to fix Albany’s systemic “pay to play” culture.
On July 2, 2013, Gov. Cuomo created the Moreland Commission, gave it subpoena power and demanded it look into every crevice and under every rock to find the malfeasance so prevalent among New York’s elected officials.
He said the commission would be “totally independent.”
It was payback for the Legislature’s refusal to pass a series of legislative ethics reforms.
Gov. Cuomo was playing hardball, and while the impetus might have been political, there was potential to do a lot of good.
In a TV advertisement promoting the commission, Cuomo said: “Trust is everything to me. So I am appointing a new independent commission, led by top law enforcement officials from all across this great state, to investigate and prosecute wrongdoing. The politicians in Albany won’t like it. But I work for the people.”
It turned out to be nothing more than a show, and Gov. Cuomo just another politician.
The New York Times published the results of a three-month investigation last Wednesday that found the governor’s office consistently compromised the Moreland Commission’s work, especially when evidence led it to anyone connected to, or supporting, the governor.
According to the Times article, one subpoena — to be delivered to the Real Estate Board of New York (a big campaign contributor to the governor) — was never delivered after one of Cuomo’s top aides made a call to the commission leadership.
On another occasion, a subpoena was withdrawn from an organization that buys political ads for Gov. Cuomo after an aide to the governor made a “compelling argument” — according to the Times article — that it was not necessary.
While the Times investigation doesn’t show anything illegal, it does provide a glimpse into an administration all-consumed by controlling every aspect of state government and the governor’s image.
It is obvious that Gov. Cuomo doesn’t work for the people, he is working only to benefit his own ambitions.
Moreland Commission investigators saw their appointments as a once in a lifetime opportunity to clean up the corruption in Albany, but according to the Times, many became disillusioned with the constant interference from the governor’s office.
On March 29, at the end of a press conference about a budget deal with the Legislature, Gov. Cuomo mentioned the Moreland Commission had accomplished its mission with the passage of some modest ethics reforms and would be shut down.
Gov. Cuomo is running for re-election in November.
It is obvious that he is just as much a part of the problem in Albany as the Legislature, and I don’t know how anyone could possibly vote for him a second time.
Ken Tingley is Editor of The Post-Star and may be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.