With a 2014 reelection bid looming, Governor Andrew Cuomo finds himself at odds with the state legislature over ethics reform. As Capital Tonight's Nick Reisman reports, Cuomo has no plans to back down.
NEW YORK STATE -- The battle over ethics in Albany is now a public one. Brewing tensions erupted in recent days as Governor Andrew Cuomo, his hand-picked Democratic Party executive director and members of the State Senate openly trade barbs over how best to curb public corruption. Now Cuomo is pledging to make ethics a potential election year issue.
"I have a right to go to the people of the state of New York next year and explain to them the issue. Next year is an election year and it will be an accountability year," Cuomo said.
Lawmakers, this year, failed to approve any ethics reform following a spate of corruption arrests in the legislature. As a result, Cuomo created a commission of district attorneys and legal scholars to investigate public corruption. The panel has the power under the Moreland Act to subpoena the legislature. But so far, legislators are resisting efforts to pry into their outside finances, as well as their campaign committees. In a court filing this week, the Senate Republican Campaign Committee asked a state judge to block a subpoena from the Moreland Commission.
Cuomo said, "I think they're making a mistake. I think they're compounding the public's sense that they have something to hide. I believe it's in everyone's best interest for the public to have trust in the legislature."
But the Moreland Commission has come under scrutiny for reportedly working too closely with the governor's office. That led two senators, independent democrat Diane Savino and republican Andrew Lanza, both of Staten Island, to introduce a bill that would make future investigations independent of the governor's office. In response, Cuomo's Democratic Party executive director blasted both lawmakers and suggested Savino register as a Republican.
The episode highlighted the worsening tensions between Cuomo and the Senate coalition of republicans and four independent democrats. Days before the volley of press releases on Moreland, the website Capital New York reported that Cuomo and New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio were plotting primary challenges to the independent Democrats. Cuomo wouldn't confirm the plan, but didn't deny it.
"I don't want to have any political conservations until next year, how's that for a novel answer?" Cuomo asked.
"But have you had those discussions?" a reporter asked.
"That would be a political discussion," he said.