U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara subpoenas state ethics board

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the southern

Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, holds a press conference in the lobby of the office of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan on April 4, 2013. (Credit: Charles Eckert)

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ALBANY -- U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose corruption probes have shaken up New York's political world in the past 12 months, has subpoenaed the state ethics commission, sources said Wednesday.

Bharara is seeking records from the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics, created in 2011. This comes on the heels of Bharara taking over the cases of a separate anti-corruption panel, the Moreland Commission, that Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo shuttered four weeks ago.

A Bharara spokesman would not confirm or deny the investigation.

"Anything connected to the grand jury process is confidential, so we aren't commenting on whether or not there have been subpoenas issued," spokesman James Margolin said.

Cuomo officials referred questions to the joint commission, where spokesman John Milgrim said in an email that the commission "routinely works with other law enforcement agencies on various cases but it will not confirm or comment on any specific investigative matter."

The New York Post first reported the subpoena Wednesday.

Three weeks ago, Bharara criticized Cuomo for closing down the Moreland Commission in exchange for legislation that is supposed to toughen bribery statutes and crack down on election-law violations. The Democratic governor, who launched the commission in 2013 because state legislators didn't pass an ethics-legislation package he wanted, has defended disbanding the commission, saying it prodded lawmakers to pass tougher corruption laws. Cuomo is running for re-election this fall.

At the time it was closed, the Moreland Commission agreed to turn over its investigations to Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District in Manhattan. Bharara said then that Cuomo created the panel "with great fanfare," but shuttered it "unceremoniously."

Bharara has launched several high-profile political probes in the past year, including one that led to the indictment of several officials for allegedly trying to rig the 2013 Republican mayoral primary in New York City.

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