Eric Schneiderman broke his silence on the Moreland Commission Friday, but his opponent claims there are many unanswered questions about the attorney general's role in the now defunct anti-corruption commission. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
When Governor Andrew Cuomo created the Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption, he was assisted by state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who deputized 23 of the 25 commissioners with subpoena power.
Earlier this year, Schneiderman argued in court documents that the commission was independent.
"The attorney general had a critical role here," said John Cahill, the Republican candidate for state attorney general. "Once the executive order was signed, the commission, the investigation really was in the hands of the attorney general, as he states clearly in his papers that this was an independent investigation."
Schneiderman held an event in Schenectady Friday afternoon. The abrupt dissolution of the Moreland Commission is now under investigation.
"I think you may have heard that that is the subject of an ongoing federal investigation, and I don't comment on ongoing investigations," Schneiderman said. ""My office is cooperating with the United States attorney."
Last week, the New York Times revealed instances where members of the Cuomo administration ordered subpoenas issued by the commission to Cuomo's supporters be called back, subpoenas they were only authorized to issue because of Schneiderman's role.
"He needs to come forward and tell the people of New York, the people that he serves, what he knew about this investigation, what he knew about the political interference," Cahill said. "These deputies were required to report to the attorney general on a weekly basis. Was that done? Did he know about political interference? If he did know, what did he do about it?
"It is not unusual for us to cross-designate people as assistant attorneys general," Schneiderman said. "We do it frequently with people in the comptroller's office and other prosecutorial offices, and I'm not going to comment further on this particular matter."
The attorney general did receive weekly reports from the commission, although it's unclear what was in those reports. People familiar with the commission's work say they are unlikely to document instances of interference. However, others say it's also unlikely Schneiderman would not have heard about the Cuomo administration's interference. What he did, if he knew, remains unclear.