U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara criticized Gov. Andrew Cuomo today for shutting down a Moreland Commission panel to root out public corruption in state government in exchange for an ethics package adopted in the state budget last week.
Bharara has seized the documents of the panel and didn’t rule out investigating Cuomo for allegedly interfering with the commission’s work.
“I’m not going to prejudge what we’ll be looking at, what we’ll be investigating and where the faces will lead,” Bharara said on WNYC-AM.
“We are going to look at the documents, we’re going to see what the facts are and if there are questions that are appropriate to ask, as I think the public knows by now, there are strong willed and aggressive but fair people in my office who will ask those questions,” Bharara said.
Cuomo and legislative leaders agreed to disband the commission last month in exchange for an ethics package that includes tougher campaign-finance enforcement at the state Board of Elections, public financing for the comptroller’s office and stronger bribery laws.
But Bharara, who has prosecuted most of the major public-corruption cases in New York, said the work of the panel—which includes a number of the state’s district attorneys—should continue. He wrote two letters to the panel in recent days, first questioning their decision to drop their investigations and then secondly to thank them for giving up their documents to him.
He said investigators were headed to the Moreland Commission’s offices today to pick up the information.
“From where I sit, when you begin something, you finish it – particularly when you are telling everybody you are going to finish it,” Bharara said. “And if you begin investigations and you begin with great fanfare, you don’t, I think, unceremoniously take them off the table without causing questions to be asked.
“In a world where public corruption remains a serious problem and there are investigations that have begun, they should be finished.”