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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo launched a commission Tuesday to investigate potential violations of New York’s election laws, amid next year’s statewide campaigns.
Cuomo tapped Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to be part of the panel, a move that makes it more powerful than it otherwise would be because of Schneiderman’s prosecutorial powers. Cuomo called the commission a “powerful step” to address a recent string of corruption scandals involving lawmakers.
Schneiderman said the panel not only would look for wrongdoing but also make suggestions about “things that are legal but perhaps should not be legal.” He added that New York’s campaign-finance laws were “something of a national embarrassment.”
Cuomo created the panel after the state Legislature rejected a plan that, among other things, would have given the governor power to appoint a new counsel specifically to investigate election-law violations. Regina Calcaterra, a former top deputy to Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone, will serve as the panel’s executive director, heading day to day operations.
A day before Cuomo’s announcement, Senate co-leader Dean Skelos (R-Rockville Centre) warned that the panel shouldn’t engage in a “witch hunt” against legislators and noted that Cuomo has raised about $30 million for his campaign.
The panel is supposed to deliver preliminary findings by the end of 2013 and a final report at the end of 2014 — meaning its work will frame the 2014 statewide election year.