FREEPORT, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo insisted Wednesday that his administration did not meddle with an anti-corruption commission.
During an event on Long Island, the Democratic governor fielded questions about the political storm regarding his top aide Larry Schwartz’s alleged efforts to stop the Moreland Commission from issuing subpoenas to groups linked to the governor.
Cuomo said Schwartz only offered suggestions and that the commission’s decision to ignore those suggestions shows his office didn’t interfere. He again pointed to a statement from one of the commission’s leaders saying there was no interference from the Cuomo administration. The governor was in Freeport to discuss help for homeowners rebuilding after Superstorm Sandy.
“The real question is, was the commission independent in the decisions that it made?” Cuomo said to reporters, including WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall. “And the co-chair of the committee said definitively yesterday that he made all the decisions with his co-chairs, period.”
Cuomo created the commission last year and abruptly disbanded it this spring.
Meanwhile, Rob Astorino, Cuomo’s Republican challenger in this year’s gubernatorial race, is demanding to know what the panel found and where the evidence has gone, WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane reported.
State law requires the governor to turn over evidence to law enforcement, and Astorino pointed to published reports in which sources said the panel was examining pay-to-play and patronage scams.
“What did he do with that evidence?” said Astorino, the Westchester County executive. “Who did he turn over that important information to? Who did he refer it to as he’s supposed to?”
The U.S. attorney is probing the commission’s demise. But Astorino said there may be jurisdictional issues when it comes to the violation of state law. He again called for a state investigation as well as a federal one, 1010 WINS’ Holli Haerr.
On that, Astorino is firm: “I believe Gov. Cuomo committed a crime,” he said.
When told about Astorino’s comments, Cuomo said with a chuckle, “That’s entertaining.”
Cuomo said the panel had already been ordered to hand over its findings.
“I told the commission that any information they have, any files, any documents should all be turned over to the relevant prosecutors, so that’s been done already,” Cuomo said.
Cuomo noted that the Moreland Commission was comprised of prosecutors.
One person who has not been following the accusations is New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
De Blasio said Wednesday that he has “a lot of other things to do” and hasn’t monitored the story.
Despite that, he criticized Astorino for saying Cuomo behaved like a Mafia boss.
De Blasio said he was “particularly offended” as an Italian-American.
The mayor also defended Cuomo, a fellow Democrat, as “a person of high integrity.”
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