Members of the Moreland Commission To Investigate Public Corruption have made conflicting statements this week about whether the panel seriously investigated anyone other than the Legislature — like, you know, the two men who oversee the commission, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.
Onondaga County Executive Republican Joanie Mahoney told Capital Tonight that the commission did not look into Cuomo:
“I think we’re making a mockery of this whole process if we try to pretend that a group of us that’s been appointed by the attorney general and the governor is investigating the attorney general or the governor," she said. "So, I never subscribed to that notion to start with, and there has been no conversations inside the Moreland Commission to do anything other than address public corruption and these instances that are outlined in this report, which are all legislative.”
But, not so fast: Moreland co-chair William Fitzpatrick (also Republican) told Capital NY that the body had in fact investigated Cuomo.
“We don't announce everybody that we're looking into, but if we find an impropriety, it would work its way into the report, which is what happened," said Fitzpatrick, the Onondaga County district attorney. "So you can conclude from that, and you would be correct in concluding from that, that although we have looked into a lot different funding sources — the governor, the attorney general, the Legislature — there is a lot that we did not find to be improper.”
Just to make things a little more unclear, Cuomo himself took to the airwaves yesterday, appearing on Susan Arbetter’s The Capitol Pressroom to say that he was not investigated. “The problem has been evidenced in the Legislature,” Cuomo said. “That’s where the indictments are. There has not been rampant evidence of corruption among DAs, or in the attorney general’s office or in the comptroller’s office or in the governor’s office."
Moreland insiders note that investigations are ongoing and that the initial report released on Monday is not supposed to be the end to the body’s time following the money trail in state politics.
Meanwhile, Cuomo has sent mixed messages about whether he plans on pushing the Legislature on Moreland’s recommendation to implement a public financing system in the state.
Cuomo seemed to initially indicate he would push forward with reforms that did not include public financing of campaigns, citing the fact that seven members of the commission issued dissenting opinions against it. However, Cuomo staffers insist that the governor is still 100 percent behind public financing.
And Cuomo told Arbetter: “My support is clear, because otherwise, frankly, we would have had a package before now.”
The Fair Elections Campaign, made up of good government groups, kicked off their “Penny-a-Day Keeps Corruption Away” campaign yesterday to build support for public financing of campaigns.