Governor Andrew Cuomo today was in upstate New York where he spoke to reporters about his recent legal troubles involving his dissolution of his anti-corruption Moreland commission. A new poll shows Cuomo's approval ratings dipping slightly but most New Yorkers surveyed don't seem to know or care much about the ongoing investigation. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.
After announcing last week that he would have nothing more to say about the abrupt ending of the anti-corruption Moreland Commission, Governor Andrew Cuomo again made the point by trying to say little.
"The U.S. Attorney in New York City now is looking into the operation of the commission and I think that should be respected, and I don't think public dialogue on the matter is helpful right now," Cuomo said.
The self-imposed gag order came after U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara threatened possible witness tampering and obstruction of justice charges against the Cuomo administration.
Last week, Cuomo pointed repeatedly to public statements of support he'd received from Moreland commissioners. It was later revealed that those statements had been coordinated by the governor.
After explaining why he could no longer comment on the shutdown, Cuomo proceeded to comment.
"We always had said that when we pass the law, the commission will be decommissioned, if you will. That was from day one. I always said I didn't want to create a long-term bureaucracy," Cuomo said.
Cuomo also said that a criminal attorney his office has obtained for the Moreland probe would be paid for by campaign funds. Some government watchdogs say that's a highly unusual move, since that attorney will represent state employees.
"Having the governor hiring lawyers for his employees seems to be another instance of control," said Susan Lerner of Common Cause N.Y.
"Well it could be paid for by taxpayer dollars, government dollars. I actually didn't want the taxpayers to pay for it, so I said I'd pay for it by the campaign," Cuomo said.
A Wall Street Journal Marist poll, the first since the Moreland controversy, still shows Cuomo with a commanding lead over Republican challenger Rob Astorino. Only 23 percent of those polled said the commission would be a major factor in how they vote, 71 percent said it would be minor or no factor.
The same poll also showed that Cuomo's favorability rating slipped five points to 53 percent. As a general rule, incumbents polling at over 50 percent are often considered in safe territory as they run for re-election.