The commission established by Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate money in politics held its third and final hearing Monday night, and is expected to issue a preliminary report by December 1. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
When Governor Andrew Cuomo failed to pass an omnibus reform package through the legislature last June, he opted to appoint an investigative body known as a Moreland Commission.
The commission was expected to look at campaign finance reform, target public corruption and clean up the Board of Elections through better enforcement.
At the final public hearing Monday, though, there were more complaints.
"The Moreland Commission seems to not want to have a public hearing," said Jaron Benjamin of the Metropolitan Council on Housing. "They changed the date. They changed the location. It's a mile away from the train station. People who are disabled can't make their case heard. They also barred the public from testifying."
Advocates aren't the only ones complaining. The commission has subpoenaed the legislature to ascertain information about the outside income of lawmakers. Both the Assembly and the state Senate have hired outside counsel to fight what they call a "fishing expedition."
On Monday night, members of the state Board of Elections testified that they are understaffed.
"We've had an 800 percent increase in the responsibilities since local filers were required to file at the state Board of Elections, and a 30 percent reduction in staff," said Robert Brehm of the New York State Board of Elections.
Under questioning from the commission members, it was revealed that not only is there partisan gridlock at the Board of Elections, the board failed to hire staff, even when it was budgeted.
For example, from April 2007 to July 2008, the board was authorized to hire for 21 positions, and it only hired six.
Moreland Commission co-chair Kathleen Rice: Mr. McCann is laying out this impossible Herculean effort that the BOE makes, and yet, you had 21 positions to fill and you didn't fill them.
Brehm: We worked diligently to fill them. No one anticipated the fiscal crisis that we would be under.
Rice: This is before the fiscal crisis.
The Moreland Commission, which is made up mostly of prosecutors, seemed to be trying to establish through its hearing that there is dysfunction within the Board of Elections. That way, calls for reform will be that much greater and louder.