The New York Times today has produced a bombshell of a report, looking at how Governor Cuomo's administration repeatedly interfered with its own anti-corruption commission whenever its investigators got too close to the governor or his political allies.
The long article by Susanne Craig, Willie Rashbaum, and Thomas Kaplan is a must-read by anyone who wants to understand the inner workings of state government under Cuomo's watch. Many insiders have been grousing for years about the administration's control-freak aura; now some of it is out in the open for the first time.
From quashing subpoenas to an ad firm with ties to the governor to protecting the Real Estate Board of New York, Cuomo's team in The Times report treated the Moreland Commission like just another hack-filled state agency – rather than an independent entity that was designed to root out corruption wherever it sprouted. It's stunning and sad to see Cuomo's lieutenants bully the bipartisan leaders of the commission while the governor, himself, tries to push them to move more aggressively after state legislators.
In response to The Times article, the governor's office issued a 13-page statement that deals with the newspaper's questions in a thoroughly unsatisfying manner, ultimately trying to dismiss everything as old news.
"There is not a question or issue raised here that has not been the subject of other news articles and exhaustively covered," says the statement. It reads like a cop trying to tell passers-by there's "nothing to see here" after a mass murder on a sidewalk.
While some of Moreland's dysfunction has been reported about previously in bits and pieces, never before has it been so perfectly presented than in today's package in The Times.
Thankfully, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has swooped in -- not only to look at some of the commission's unfinished business but also to examine Cuomo's meddling into a group that was trying to do the right thing.
While the governor has repeatedly talked up the importance of transparency in government, it's clear he's been saying one thing and then doing another. The greatest champion of openness in Albany hasn't been the governor and his aides on the second floor of the State Capitol – but a team of newspaper reporters working out of a building on West 41st Street.