U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara took a break on Sunday from Albany corruption cases to deliver the commencement speech at Pace Law School in Westchester. His work is shaking the capital to its core, and it has left Governor Andrew Cuomo as the last of the so-called "three men in a room." NY1's Grace Rauh filed this report.
There are new leaders in the State Senate and State Assembly, after corruption charges brought by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara compelled longtime Speaker Sheldon Silver and Majority Leader Dean Skelos to step aside.
Bharara has not been shy about denouncing political corruption, but after a federal judge rebuked him for being too outspoken, he has been more reserved.
That was certainly the case on Sunday, when Bharara delivered the commencement speech at Pace Law School.
“We have corrosive corruption in our state capital. We have poison by prescription throughout the country. We have violent gangs, corporations lacking in courage and conscience,” he said.
While Bharara steered clear of specifics about his efforts to clean up the Capital, he did tease the audience, and perhaps any lawmakers listening, about the authority he wields.
“Reminders of the power of the law are all around us. And I don't just mean the power that I have as U.S. Attorney to subpoena and wiretap all of you, although I do have that power,” he said.
Those wiretaps and subpoenas may snag additional politicians. In the meantime, they have created chaos in Albany—and questions about what, if anything, lawmakers will accomplish before the end of the legislative session in mid-June.
“We are not going to talk about this this year. We are going to get it done this year,” said Governor Andrew Cuomo.
One of the items on Governor Cuomo's to-do list is the passage of an education tax credit for tuition payments and scholarship donations to private and parochial schools.
“If you can't afford the choice, you don't really have the choice. And that is not justice,” Cuomo said.
Just a few months ago, Cuomo would have been negotiating the legislation with Silver and Skelos—and Senator Jeff Klein, who leads the Independent Democratic Caucus. Now it is Cuomo and Klein, and two new legislative leaders.