The commission created by Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate public corruption has already had its share of controversy as it tries to investigate lawmakers. The rocky path has led to criticism of the governor, who some have accused of meddling in the supposedly independent group known as the Moreland Commission. Zack Fink has the story.
NEW YORK STATE -- Using his executive power, Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed what's known as a Moreland Commission to investigate the influence of money in politics.
The commission took shape this summer, just weeks after a legislative package including anti-corruption measures and campaign finance reform failed in the legislature. It has not been a smooth ride.
"I think our main concern about the Moreland Commission is that they aren't going after everybody, particularly people who are close to the Governor," said Haron Benjamin, Metropolitan Council on Housing Executive Director.
The commission, which includes prosecutors from all over the state, is supposed to be independent. When it sought information about the outside income of legislators, both houses pushed back, hiring outside lawyers to rebuff the requests.
The commission then tried to take aim at the State Democratic Party, but members of the Cuomo administration were accused of trying to block the commission's work.
"Cuomo's been in Albany 19 years now. He talks like a reformer, but if you look at all of his actions, he is an old culture Governor there is no doubt about it," said Bill Samuels of the New Roosevelt Institute.
Critics say it's a classic case of "be careful what you wish for." Realizing it could not control the scope of the investigation, the Cuomo administration reportedly floated the idea of shutting it down, a plan that appears to have been dropped.
Cuomo said, "They are talking as they should be everyone is talking which is intelligent. I don't believe there is going to be any quick resolution to the matter. That's my gut."
Samuels said, "Moreland, I think will do a good job. I think the pushback against Cuomo has worked. I think Schneiderman and others have done a good job, but Cuomo's got to loosen up. He's part of the story here and he's got to change his behavior."
In a statement, the commission said, "The Moreland Commission has moved to look across the board at all housekeeping accounts. Everything is on the table. We are looking at everything."
If the Moreland Commission is not disbanded and continues its work, it will hold a second public hearing in New York City on October 29th. The commission will issue a preliminary report on December 1st.