As part of his national book tour, Gov. Andrew Cuomo was asked by USA Today about the federal probe into his decision in March to disband a corruption-busting panel.
“That’s really a political dispute,” Cuomo responded. “I put together a commission to investigate ethics in the state because I wanted to get a state ethics law passed by the Legislature. And I said when the law is passed, I will disband the commission.”
Cuomo dumped the Moreland Commission as the 25-member panel was investigating perhaps dozens of cases involving lawmakers’ misuse of campaign funds and other potential misdeeds. Cuomo’s office has been criticized for interfering in the panel’s work and steering it away from investigating the Democratic governor’s allies.
Cuomo said the panel led to ethics reforms that were 85 percent of what he had wanted. Critics have said the changes are minimal: a pilot program for public financing of campaigns and a new enforcement officer at the Board of Elections.
“I got the law passed – I got 85 percent of what I wanted passed in the law,” Cuomo said. “So people say, well I should have waited for 100 percent. I didn’t get something called public financing, which I support but the Legislature wouldn’t pass, and I took the 85 percent instead of the 100 percent.”
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara seized the commission’s files after it was disbanded, but has not indicated when his work will be concluded — or whether it will wrap up before Election Day, Nov. 4, when Cuomo and all 213 state lawmakers will be on the ballot.
The Moreland question comes at about the 5:30 mark.