State lawmakers to Cuomo commission: You're out of bounds

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ALBANY -- State lawmakers fought back Friday against a Cuomo commission seeking information on their outside income, saying the request exceeded the commission's authority.

In a joint letter, attorneys for the state Senate and Assembly said lawmakers already have complied with existing laws on financial disclosure. They contended that the Commission to Investigate Public Corruption went too far in asking legislators to list any income above $1,000 from "each source."

"These demands substantially exceed what New York law authorizes. All information legally required to be disclosed and relevant to any legitimate inquiry already has been disclosed," read the letter, signed by Michael Garcia for the Senate and Marc E. Kosowitz for the Assembly.

They said the request raises concerns about the separation of powers between branches of government and about attorney-client privilege for legislators who work as lawyers.

A commission spokeswoman criticized lawmakers.

"The New York State Legislature has refused to turn over the information requested by the Moreland Commission revealing their outside clients," commission spokeswoman Michelle Duffy said in an email. "As the old adage goes, if you've done nothing wrong, you have nothing to hide. We believe the legislature's position is legally indefensible, ethically repugnant, and disrespectful to the public's right to know. There are a number of avenues through which the Commission can obtain the information being sought, and we will pursue them."

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, invoking special powers under the Moreland Act, launched the commission in July after state legislators adjourned for the 2013 session without acting on a set of his proposals intended to prevent corruption. In the wake of several lawmakers being indicted or convicted this spring, Cuomo offered a package that, among other things, would have given him authority to appoint someone to investigate violations of state election laws. Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice is one of the co-chairs of the commission.

In August, the panel subpoenaed large New York City real estate developers. It is expected to begin public hearings later this month. Two weeks ago, the commission sent letters asking to see lawmakers' client lists and other information -- especially regarding "employment income over $20,000 from any single source."

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