July 30, 2014

America Rising Exposes Cuomo For Attempted Cover Up Of Ethics Commission Scandal

The New York Post  reports this morning that last fall America Rising PAC filed a records request under state law seeking communications and meeting records between the office of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) and the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, a committee the Governor claimed would be independently investigating corruption in state government.

What we got back was a letter claiming no such records existed. The letter stated that “the New York State Executive Chamber has conducted a diligent search, but does not possess records responsive to your request.” But the reality was the Cuomo Administration had been tampering with the Commission for months. From The Post’s story:

The Cuomo administration claimed last year there were no records of its contacts with an anti-corruption panel involving the Real Estate Board of New York — just three months after a top gubernatorial aide ordered the panel not to issue subpoenas to the influential real-estate group.

The administration’s misleading account was made in writing to America Rising, a conservative PAC that had filed a Freedom of Information Law request in October for “any and all” communications between Cuomo staffers and the Moreland Commission panel about REBNY.

Just two months later, the answer came back that America Rising was wasting its time.

“Please be advised that the New York State Executive Chamber has conducted a diligent search but does not possess records responsive to your request,” Cuomo’s records officer, George Stiefel III, wrote in a response dated Nov. 19.

Now, the Cuomo Administration is under fire following a New York Times report last week that detailed how the governor’s office’s tampered with the Moreland Commission’s investigations in ways far deeper and more intrusive than ever previously known. The governor’s top aide issued stark warnings to commission staff not to investigate the governor and his allies, quashed numerous investigations, and in one instance, actually ordered the commission to claw back a subpoena that already been issued. The interference has triggered a federal investigation.

Our records request sought among other things, meeting records between the governor’s office and Moreland Commission members. The New York Times report details two days of meetings between Cuomo himself, a top aide, and Moreland Commissioners in September of last year, one month prior to our request being filed.

According to The Post: “[I]n this case, the administration admitted it had the requested records.”

Gov. Cuomo admitted as much in his Monday press conference in Buffalo on Monday, repeatedly telling reporters his staff was talking with members of the Moreland Commission.

As The New York Post story shows, the Cuomo Administration not only pressured the supposedly independent Moreland Commission, but then attempted to cover it up, by claiming no records of such extensive interference existed.