Cuomo foes call for swift action following report of interference with ethics panel

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New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, on New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, left, on Jan. 8, 2014 in Albany, and his Republican opponent Rob Astorino on March 7, 2014 in Albany. Photo Credit: AP / Mike Groll

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ALBANY — One of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s political challengers called the Democrat a crook and another said the governor may have to resign after a published report said he interfered with an anti-corruption commission.

 "Governor Cuomo is in big trouble,” said Republican candidate for governor Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive.  “New Yorkers cannot afford to have a crook in the Governor's Mansion."

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 Zephyr Teachout, who is challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary, said Cuomo’s reported interference with the Moreland Commission he created is worse than the prostitution scandal that prompted former Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign.

“The Cuomo administration's indiscretions —  public acts that violate the public trust —  are far worse,” she said Wednesday, a day after she and Astorino briefly joined forces to criticize Cuomo for failing to stop corruption in Albany.

“If Governor Andrew Cuomo directed or even knew that his top aide was obstructing and interfering with the Moreland Commission, he should immediately resign,” she said.

Good-government groups called on Cuomo to respond to the report in The New York Times that he and his top aides interfered with the anti-corruption commission he ultimately shut down. The lengthy story on Wednesday said Cuomo directly and through his aides dissuaded the Moreland Commission from investigating the governor’s campaign contributors and campaign spending.

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Cuomo had recently confirmed regular contact with the panel. The governor said in a response to the newspaper that it was proper for him to remain in contact with the panel that, by law, reported to him, but that all decisions on investigations were made by three co-chairmen he appointed.

Cuomo declined to comment Wednesday.

The Times narrative included new emails that appeared to contradict public comments by the panel’s co-chairmen that had been supportive of the governor’s role.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is investigating the cases once pursued by the Moreland Commission, which Cuomo abolished after he struck a political deal with the Legislature over some ethics measures.

“We applaud the United States Attorney for his work to levy justice on Moreland's targets, and on those who interfered with the commission to protect Mr. Cuomo and his political allies,” Astorino said.

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