Moreland Commission Shutdown Proves It Worked
If Gov. Andrew Cuomo is serious about tackling corruption, he should work to restart the Moreland Commission – or start a new group with the same powers to gather information about violations.
The governor appointed the investigative commission under New York’s anti-corruption Moreland Act in 2013, in part to examine “compliance with and the effectiveness of campaign finance laws,” according to his executive order. The commissioners, many of them county district attorneys, used subpoena powers from the attorney general to gather information from state legislators, their campaign committees and law firms that employ them.
Cuomo effectively shut the commission down in April, after the Legislature passed laws intended to toughen bribery prosecutions and to establish a new campaign finance policing office.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan took the remaining files, calling the closure premature but saying federal prosecutors would aggressively complete its “important and unfinished” work.
Whether the charges against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver are fully the result of the commission’s work is unknown.
It’s important to note that media reports in July indicated Cuomo’s office thwarted attempts by his own special corruption commission to investigate groups with ties to him.
We warned people then not to ignore the reports of how Cuomo handled the commission.
Now, we encourage people to contact state officials and tell them we need a body like the Moreland Commission again – and it should be permanent.
Only this time, state lawmakers should insist those with ties to Cuomo understand they will be investigated too – and held accountable for their actions.