Pay Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain

Voters should not ignore the latest revelations concerning the shenanigans Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration is involved in.

The New York Times reported Wednesday Cuomo’s office thwarted attempts by his own special corruption commission to investigate groups with ties to him. The report said a top Cuomo aide, Larry Schwartz, pressured members of the commission to stop subpoenas to a media-buying firm Cuomo used and to the Real Estate Board of New York, whose members financially supported the governor’s campaign. The newspaper also reported the commission was urged to steer clear of the Committee to Save New York, a lobbying group of CEOs and business groups that amassed some $17 million in donations from unidentified individuals who supported the governor early in his term with TV ads.

The governor appointed the investigative commission under New York’s anti-corruption Moreland Act a year ago, in part to examine “compliance with and the effectiveness of campaign finance laws,” according to his executive order. The commissioners, many of them county district attorneys, used subpoena powers from the attorney general to gather information from state legislators, their campaign committees and law firms that employ them.

Cuomo effectively shut it down in April, after the Legislature passed laws intended to toughen bribery prosecutions and to establish a new campaign finance policing office. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan took the remaining files, calling the closure premature but saying federal prosecutors would aggressively complete its “important and unfinished” work.

Following the report Wednesday, Cuomo’s political foes called for prompt criminal investigation of his administration.

That’s hardly surprising. The report comes as Cuomo mounts a re-election campaign, one in which he has had big leads in most polls. He has also been mentioned as a possible presidential candidate in 2016.

For his opponents, the call for an investigation probably has less to do with what is right than what is likely to get Cuomo knocked out of the race.

However, it’s not as if Cuomo offered much of a justification for his actions.

A spokesman from Cuomo’s office said it would be “a pure conflict of interest” for a commission appointed by the governor to investigate the governor.

It seems like the bigger issue would be ignoring possible corruption because it had a link to the governor – generating the sort of mess Cuomo finds himself in now.

The public should not ignore reports about Cuomo’s handling of the commission.