The Moreland Commission was formed after a number of state officials were sent off to prison for corruption. NY1’s Errol Louis takes a look at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's promises to end corruption in Albany and recent revelations by The New York Times.
In no uncertain terms, Gov. Andrew Cuomo told the legislature to reform campaign finance rules and pass anti-corruption laws or face the prospect of a sweeping investigation, something the governor has the legal power to initiate by forming what's called a Moreland Commission.
But the legislature ended its session without passing reforms and so the Moreland Commission was born.
"I believe there has never been a more credible group of law enforcement professionals assembled in this state on this type of commission period. This is truly a unique convening,” Cuomo said in July.
The panel of investigators, said the governor, would be independent. He repeated that claim in a television ad, and Cuomo flew around the state giving speeches making the same promise.
"The Moreland Commission will be an independent commission with general jurisdiction and responsibility for all campaign finance, Board of Elections activity,” said Cuomo.
And when asked, Cuomo said the commission would be empowered to investigate anyone, including him and his lieutenant governor.
“I don't believe there is going to be any quick resolution to the matter,” said Cuomo.
But six months, later, the governor was singing a different tune, mentioning in passing that he had ended the Moreland Commission before it ever issued a final report.
"The commission was always a temporary commission by design. It was never a permanent commission,” said Cuomo.
The sudden disbanding of the commission drew a sharp response from U.S. Attorney Preet Bararra.
"Nine months may be the proper and natural gestational period for a child, but in our experience it is not the amount of time necessary for a public corruption prosecution to mature,” said Bararra.
But Cuomo stuck to his guns.
"It was a temporary commission. I was not creating a perpetual bureaucracy,” Cuomo said.
Bombshell revelations by The New York Times make clear that the staff and members of the Commission were far from happy with Cuomo's decision. Several told the Times that the commission's work was controlled, undermined and ultimately cut short by the very man who had promised them independence: Andrew Cuomo.