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Gov. Andrew Cuomo's nominees to head his Moreland Commission that will investigate corruption in Albany have already raised the hackles of some advocates and legislators.
Cuomo announced the formation of the commission this morning. The Daily News reported yesterday that the committee — which will have subpoena power — will be chaired by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Syracuse District Attorney William Fitzpatrick and lawyer Milton Williams. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has also leant his staffers and the power of his office to broaden the scope of the investigation.
Rice, who ran for attorney general in 2010, has long been a Cuomo ally, which does nothing to allay the fears of some legislators that Cuomo will have undue control of what the commission will and won't look into.
Furthermore, good government advocates worry that Rice is too close to the largest political donors in the state to cast a critical eye on their behavior. Rice is in the middle of running for reelection and is one of the state's most prolific fundraisers.
"This isn't kind of message we were looking for," said one advocate who asked to remain anonymous. "We are talking about someone who is just as beholden to this system as anyone else in the state."
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has made it clear he is angry at utility companies for their response to Hurricane Sandy. Thousands of people have been without power and heat for weeks and Cuomo has questioned whether the utilities were prepared for the storm despite fair warning. Now Cuomo has officially acted on his anger by issuing an executive order under the Moreland Act to form a commission to investigate all of the utilities that were charged with maintaining their infrastructure in the wake of Sandy.
Cuomo has repeatedly threatened the Legislature with the Moreland Act to get them to move on ethics legislation but he never used the authority in that case. Now Cuomo has chosen to invoke the power in the wake of Sandy. Utility companies are likely the only group more disliked by the Legislature, and the move is almost certain to boost Cuomo's already staggering approval ratings.
Here is the make up of the commission that will hav ethe power to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath:
Co-Chair Robert Abrams, former Attorney General of New York StateCo-Chair Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the Department of Financial ServicesPeter Bradford, former Chair of the Public Service CommissionTony Collins, President of Clarkson UniversityJohn Dyson, former Chairman of the New York Power AuthorityRev. Floyd Flake, Senior Pastor of Greater Allen African Methodist Episcopal CathedralMark Green, former New York City Public AdvocateJoanie Mahoney, Onondaga County ExecutiveKathleen Rice, Nassau County District AttorneyDan Tishman, Vice Chairman at AECOM Technology Corporation, and Chairman and CEO of Tishman Construction Corporation
And here is the Executive Order that Cuomo signed: