News, views and commentary on Long Island, state and national politics.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo didn’t respond directly Thursday when asked if his office influenced the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption.
Recent reports have raised questions about the direction of the commission, which Cuomo created in July after a spate of indictments of public officials and the state lawmakers’ resistance to passing a package of ethics legislation he favored.
Last week, the watchdog group Common Cause released a letter expressing concern about “interference and micromanagement” of the commission. That followed reports by the Daily News that the commission killed a subpoena that would have gone to the Cuomo-controlled state Democratic Party and the Real Estate Board of New York, an influential lobby group.
Days later, the commission acknowledged it regularly reports to the governor, but maintains it is still independent of Cuomo. Sources have said the Cuomo administration is now discussing a potential constitutional amendment to create public financing of campaigns as an option for ethics reform.
At an event in Utica on Thursday, Cuomo said neither he nor his staff directed the commission not to subpoena the Democratic Party or REBNY. But he didn’t directly answer on whether his staff guided the commission.
“Well you know that the staff — the Moreland Commission is staffed by people from the governor’s office and the AG’s office,” Cuomo said in response to a Daily News question. “We staff the commission. The co-chairs vote on what subpoenas to do and it requires a unanimous vote of the co-chairs.
Asked again, Cuomo said the three co-chairs of the commission — including Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice — are responsible.
“The co-chairs make that determination,” the governor said.