The New York Times released a bombshell investigation today into the questionable tactics employed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office to influence the Moreland Commission, the anti-corruption commission he created to clean up Albany. Here are some of the craziest parts of the stories, with reactions from two of our favorite shows about political scandals, House of Cards and Scandal.
1. “The New York Times found that the governor’s office deeply compromised the panel’s work, objecting whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to Governor Andrew Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.”
2. "Cuomo’s office said the commission needed the governor’s guiding hand because the commissioners, 'did not understand the budget or legislative process or how state government worked.’
When Cuomo unveiled the commission at a ceremony, he called the commissioners some of New York’s sharpest governmental and legal minds.”
3. "A sense of paranoia spread through the office, where, one staff member said, the mood began to resemble that of a prison camp. Ms. Perry told investigators to assume that Ms. Calcaterra was indeed reading their emails. One investigator told colleagues he had become convinced that it was true after Ms. Calcaterra asked him about something he had mentioned only once, in a message he had emailed from his Moreland account to his personal account.”
4. “Mr. Schwartz drew a bright line: The Moreland Commission, he said, had been created to investigate the Legislature; it was not intended to scrutinize the governor’s actions.”
5. “Heeding the governor’s advice, the three arrived with a list of proposals, including public financing of campaigns, beefing up corruption laws, and expanding disclosure of lawmakers’ outside incomes. Their proposals bombed, according to people in the room.”
The chief of staff for the New York Senate Republicans even called these proposals “a witch hunt.”
6. BEST QUOTE OF THE ARTICLE:
“Are you suggesting a 30-year member of the Legislature be robbed of their pension because of one indiscretion?,” Mr. Lewis, a lawyer for the Senate Republicans asked.
Mr Fitzpatrick responded with one word: “Yes.”
7. “Mr. Cuomo had directed that it produce a preliminary report by early December. What resulted provided a grim assessment of state government as 'a pay-to-play political culture driven by large checks.’”
8. “I can tell you that in private meetings with the speaker, the Senate majority leader and the governor, our past efforts to maintain a personal and supportive relationship was critical in shaping the outcome” of legislation, Mr. Spinola, the president of the Real Estate Board of New York, wrote.
In her e-mail, Ms. Perry described Mr. Spinola’s memo as “explicitly stating the obvious point that a ‘supportive relationship’ (I.e., the contribution of money) yields legislative ‘outcome.’”
9. Investigators had zeroed in on some 20 legislators [misusing campaign funds]. One state senator appeared to be supporting a girlfriend in Connecticut and paying tanning-salon bills. Another was suspected of throwing parties for his grandchildren and buying them gifts.
10. Mr. Cuomo later asserted that the Moreland Commission had never, in fact, been independent of him. His involvement, he argued, therefore could not be considered meddling at all.
“It’s my commission,” the governor told Crain’s New York Business in late April. “I can’t ‘interfere’ with it, because it is mine. It is controlled by me.”