Cuomo was listed among 18 governors for lack of transparency and ethics, according to a Washington-based government watchdog group. The ranking, as Gannett points out, is a few months old. But it sprung into the spotlight this week as ProPublica published a story showing how Cuomo’s aides use non-governmental email accounts to conduct business and skirt state open records laws.
Some members of Gov. Cuomo’s short-lived anti-corruption commission are angry and bitter. Sources tied to the defunct panel denounced what they said was interference from Cuomo’s office. A member of Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission says there is plenty of dirt to dig up.
On April 10, Mr. Bharara and the commission’s chairmen reached an agreement under which his prosecutors took possession of all of the panel’s documents and computer files, including materials its staff had developed in several corruption investigations, some focused on state legislators.
Federal prosecutors appear to be examining any actions that may have interfered with the panel’s operation. Prosecutors have asked the panel’s investigators and staff members about allegations of interference by Cuomo administration officials, including the governor’s top aides and his senior appointees to the panel.
Much of the questioning, several of the people said, has focused on the conduct of the commission’s executive director, Regina Calcaterra, who, they said, had repeatedly sought to prevent commission subpoenas that might reflect poorly on the governor from being issued and tried to divert investigators from focusing on his allies.
Last month, Mr. Cuomo, dismissed suggestions that there could have been anything wrong in his office’s interfering with the commission’s investigations. “It’s my commission. I can’t ‘interfere’ with it, because it is mine. It is controlled by me,” he said last month, according to Crain’s New York Business.
Matthew Wing, a spokesman for Mr. Cuomo, would not discuss the suggestion that federal prosecutors were examining possible interference by his administration. In an email, Mr. Wing said, “The Moreland Commission was clear at the conclusion that they were referring all cases to various prosecutors — to the extent the U.S. attorney wants to investigate those cases we encourage all state offices to cooperate.” Mr. Wing defended the use of PIN messages as “a common way that many people communicate in 2014.”
Mr. Cuomo set up the panel, formally known as the Moreland Commission to investigate public corruption, in July, 2013 with great fanfare. However, he disclosed on March 29 that he was disbanding it in exchange for the Legislature’s agreement to pass what he called “strengthened ethics laws” as part of the adoption of a new state budget.