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Skelos Calls Cuomo's Imminent Ethics Commission A "Witch Hunt"

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TWC News: Skelos Calls Cuomo's Imminent Ethics Commission A "Witch Hunt"
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Governor Andrew Cuomo says his creation of a commission to investigate campaign finance corruption is imminent, which not surprisingly upset at least one prominent state leader. NY1's Courtney Gross filed the following report.

Governor Andrew Cuomo and the state Senate may be drawing battle lines. Senate Republican Conference Leader Dean Skelos took to the airwaves to blast the imminent appointment of a Moreland Commission by Cuomo.

The commission is an investigative body, a rarely-used power of the governor.

Skelos said on a WCNY-AM interview, "For something to be a witch hunt, it's totally inappropriate."

Cuomo in turn said, "It's about enforcing the campaign finance laws in this state. It's not about one branch or the other."

The governor is expected to announce its members on Tuesday. The panel will be heavy on prosecutors, and a source told NY1 it will be co-chaired by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice.

It will investigate the state Board Of Elections, taking an in-depth look at the campaign finance filings of members of the state Legislature.

"The Moreland Commission will be an independent commission with general jurisdiction and responsibility for all campaign finance, Board Of Election activities," Cuomo said.

"If this is just aimed at the Legislature, I think that would be inappropriate," Skelos said.

Cuomo called the commission after a campaign finance deal could not be reached in Albany. Changes in the law were high on the governor's agenda.

"It's the Republican Senate which has refused to engage on this terrible problem that all New Yorkers recognize, and that is the corrupting influence of money in politics," said Susan Lerner, the executive director of Common Cause.

That influence, critics say, has led to a now-familiar scene: a steady parade of elected leaders heading to court in handcuffs.

"Trust has been shaken, and what the Moreland Commission would be about would be restoring that trust," Cuomo said.

On Monday, Skelos once again made his own threat.

"We have an elections committee. We have the opportunity to do the same kind of research which the governor is proposing to do," Skelos said.

He may have a lot to work with. Recent filings show the governor has more than $22 million in his campaign war chest.

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