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Cuomo: I haven't been asked to speak to federal prosecutors

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on July 28, 2014,

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on July 28, 2014, at the University of Buffalo. Credit: AP / Gary Wiepert

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Tuesday he hasn’t been asked to speak to federal prosecutors looking into a now-disbanded anticorruption panel.

"No, I’ve not. But I’ve told all my people anything he wants to know, everybody should cooperate,” Cuomo said after a news conference in Canandaigua.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has taken over the cases launched by a Cuomo-appointed panel widely referred to as the Moreland Commission. Bharara also is looking into possible interference by the Cuomo administration, warning that “attempts to influence” commission members’ recollection of the panel’s proceedings could constitute witness tampering.

The Cuomo administration confirmed last week that it hired criminal defense attorney Elkan Abramowitz to represent the governor’s office in the matter. The governor’s secretary, Larry Schwartz, reportedly has agreed to meet with attorneys from Bharara’s office.

Cuomo, other than saying he hasn’t been asked to speak to federal attorneys, sought to limit his comments Tuesday.

Noting Bharara’s investigation, the governor said: “I think that should be respected, and I don’t think public dialogue on the matter is helpful right now, and we’ll let him do his work.”

Asked why he hired an outside lawyer to represent his office, Cuomo said: “Just because there was a lot of going back and forth and we needed one. Cuomo, a Democrat, is running for re-election this fall against Republican Rob Astorino, the Westchester County executive; liberal critic and Fordham University professor Zephyr Teachout also is taking on Cuomo in a Democrat primary.

Astorino and Teachout have bashed Cuomo for his handling of the commission, saying the governor might have violated laws.

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