The co-chair of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is disputing the notion that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office “interfered” with its investigation, issuing a three-page statement Monday defending the panel’s work before it was abruptly disbanded.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, who was one of three Moreland co-chairs, has faced questions about his independence after The New York Times on Wednesday reported a subpoena to a Cuomo-connected firm was temporarily held back at the urging of top Cuomo aide Larry Schwartz.
In his statement, Fitzpatrick said the subpoena to Buying Time LLC — a firm that buys advertising time for political candidates — ultimately went out three weeks after his conversation with Schwartz. Cuomo has been a client of the firm for several years.
“The bottom line is that nobody ‘interfered’ with me or my co-chairs,” Fitzpatrick wrote. “Frankly, for those who do not know me well, that suggestion is absurd.”
Cuomo first launched the Moreland Commission a year ago, saying at the time the commission was independent with the authority to investigate any corner of state government — including his own executive branch. He shut the commission down in late March, after lawmakers agreed to tougher anti-bribery laws and a pilot program for public campaign financing.
But The New York Times last week reported that Schwartz, a former Westchester County deputy executive, twice intervened when subpoenas were headed for entities with ties to Cuomo’s, urging the commission’s co-chairs to pull them back.
Cuomo has not commented publicly since the report was published Wednesday. On Monday, he’s scheduled to make his first public appearance since then, when he’ll make an announcement at the University at Buffalo at 10 a.m.
(AP file photo)
Here’s Fitzpatrick’s statement: