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Nixon vows to probe corruption; Cuomo campaign calls it a stunt

Cynthia Nixon in Brooklyn on March 28.

Cynthia Nixon in Brooklyn on March 28. Credit: Corey Sipkin

ALBANY — Democratic candidate for governor Cynthia Nixon said Tuesday that if elected, she’d launch a panel to investigate state-government corruption, taking a shot at Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo.

The governor’s campaign dismissed Nixon’s pledge as a campaign stunt.

Nixon’s promise was spurred, she said, by reports that federal prosecutors are investigating a Hudson Valley health care company that has received $25 million in state grants and has made contributions to the governor.

In a statement to Newsday Tuesday, the company, Crystal Run Healthcare, acknowledged being subpoenaed, but said it happened a year ago and denied it is a target of the probe or that it has anything to do with a “pay to play” scheme.

Nixon said on “day one” of her term she would convene a “Moreland Commission,” a specially designated investigatory panel, to look into state government corruption. In doing so, she sought to remind voters Cuomo had convened such a commission in 2013 only to abruptly shut it down because he said the state Legislature adopted ethics laws he favored.

“While Andrew Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission to keep it out of his business and away from sacred cows, I will convene a new commission that’s strong and independent of interference, to fight public corruption on day one of my administration,” Nixon said in a statement.

Cuomo campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith countered: “These are more political attacks from Cynthia Nixon. Maybe her commission could investigate why she won’t release 10 years of taxes like every other gubernatorial candidate.”

The matter that sparked the exchange involves a set of subpoenas served by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Manhattan dealing with Crystal Run, a Walkill-based company, which was first reported Monday by the Albany Times Union.

Crystal Run received more than $25 million in state grants over the years to help build facilities in Orange and Rockland counties. Individuals associated with the company also gave Cuomo hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions since 2013, records show, including $75,000 from CEO Hal Teitelbaum and $25,000 from his wife, Jennifer. Last year, Republicans had called for an investigation into the potential links between contributions and state grants.

Also at issue is a lawsuit filed in December by six company physicians regarding internal company financial dealings and a proposed merger with another health center, alleging in part that Crystal Run used pooled company funds to make political contributions without their permission.

The company as well as physicians involved in the lawsuit have received federal subpoenas, a source said.

In a statement, the company said: “Over a year ago, we received a subpoena requesting documents and we have since complied. We have no reason to believe that we are the focus of a current federal investigation. As we have said repeatedly, any suggestion of a pay to play is entirely false.”

Steven J. Shore, the lawyer representing the doctors in the lawsuit, declined comment Tuesday, as did the office of U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman.

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