I am not a big fan of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. (See my post F%$# Andrew Cuomo)
Well, in addition to his fervent retreat from anything resembling economic liberalism, unless it is of the Neoliberal variety, we now know that he’s a corrupt hypocrite.
In the small change category, we have the fact that while he was a “crusading” Attorney General, his primary adviser for mortgage fraud by the banksters was a lobbyist for the mortgage banksters:
In early 2007, when he was New York State attorney general, Andrew Cuomo brought on a longtime confidant as a consultant on mortgage industry investigations, a move that has gone undisclosed until now.
The friend was Howard Glaser and he had another job at the same time: consultant and lobbyist for the very industry Cuomo was investigating.
Glaser, who went on to become a top state official in Cuomo’s gubernatorial administration, was operating a lucrative consulting firm, the Glaser Group, with a host of mortgage industry clients.
Later that year, Glaser provided insights on Cuomo’s investigations to industry players on a conference call hosted by an investment bank.
Cuomo’s office ended up giving immunity to one of Glaser’s clients a year into his term as attorney general.
In the end, experts say, the mortgage investigations Cuomo touted as “wide-ranging” came to little, even as he held one of the country’s most powerful prosecutorial positions through the financial crisis and its aftermath.
Not surprising, though the story of how the denial of a Freedom of Information Act accidentally let the cat out of the bag to Pro Publica is prize.
The bigger story is how Cuomo set up an anti-corruption commission, and then shut it down when it began to point in his diriection:
With Albany rocked by a seemingly endless barrage of scandals and arrests, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo set up a high-powered commission last summer to root out corruption in state politics. It was barely two months old when its investigators, hunting for violations of campaign-finance laws, issued a subpoena to a media-buying firm that had placed millions of dollars’ worth of advertisements for the New York State Democratic Party.
The investigators did not realize that the firm, Buying Time, also counted Mr. Cuomo among its clients, having bought the airtime for his campaign when he ran for governor in 2010.
Word that the subpoena had been served quickly reached Mr. Cuomo’s most senior aide, Lawrence S. Schwartz. He called one of the commission’s three co-chairs, William J. Fitzpatrick, the district attorney in Syracuse.
“This is wrong,” Mr. Schwartz said, according to Mr. Fitzpatrick, whose account was corroborated by three other people told about the call at the time. He said the firm worked for the governor, and issued a simple directive:
“Pull it back.”
The subpoena was swiftly withdrawn. The panel’s chief investigator explained why in an email to the two other co-chairs later that afternoon.
“They apparently produced ads for the governor,” she wrote.
The pulled-back subpoena was the most flagrant example of how the commission, established with great ceremony by Mr. Cuomo in July 2013, was hobbled almost from the outset by demands from the governor’s office.
While the governor now maintains he had every right to monitor and direct the work of a commission he had created, many commissioners and investigators saw the demands as politically motivated interference that hamstrung an undertaking that the governor had publicly vowed would be independent.
But a three-month examination by The New York Times found that the governor’s office deeply compromised the panel’s work, objecting whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.
Ultimately, Mr. Cuomo abruptly disbanded the commission halfway through what he had indicated would be an 18-month life. And now, as the Democratic governor seeks a second term in November, federal prosecutors are investigating the roles of Mr. Cuomo and his aides in the panel’s shutdown and are pursuing its unfinished business.
Mr. Cuomo said early on that the commission would be “totally independent” and free to pursue wrongdoing anywhere in state government, including in his own office. “Anything they want to look at, they can look at — me, the lieutenant governor, the attorney general, the comptroller, any senator, any assemblyman,” he said last August.
In a 13-page statement responding to The Times’s questions, Mr. Cuomo’s office defended its handling of the commission. It said the commission was created by and reported to the governor, and therefore he could not be accused of interfering with it.
While he allowed the commission the independence to investigate whatever it wanted, the governor’s office said, it would have been a conflict for a panel he created to investigate his own administration.
That last bit is, dare I say it, Nixonian in its phrasing.
Read the whole article, it’s pretty long, and you cannot help but come away with the impression that Cuomo quashed an investigation because it came too close to him and his.
Rather unsurprisingly, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York has expressed similar concerns:
Federal prosecutors investigating Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s shutdown of an anticorruption commission have subpoenaed the assistant to its former executive director to testify before a grand jury in Manhattan, suggesting that the criminal inquiry has moved to a new stage, people briefed on the matter said on Thursday.
Federal agents served the subpoena on the assistant, Heather Green, on Wednesday morning, appearing at her doorstep before 7 a.m., the people said. Ms. Green, who is not believed to be a target of the inquiry, worked as an executive assistant to the anticorruption panel’s former executive director, Regina Calcaterra, until Mr. Cuomo announced he was disbanding the panel, known as the Moreland Commission, on March 29.
The subpoena, according to two people who have seen it or been briefed on its contents, asked for documents and correspondence, including any communications with Mr. Cuomo and his senior aides. It also directed Ms. Green to appear July 28 to testify before a grand jury in Manhattan, the people said.
Separately, Mylan L. Denerstein, counsel to the governor, has agreed to be interviewed in early August by federal prosecutors about her involvement with the panel, one of the people said.
Mr. Cuomo created the Moreland Commission in July 2013, saying he wanted to root out corruption and reform state laws that for decades have enabled it. But he abruptly shuttered the panel in March after striking a deal with legislative leaders that netted only modest reforms.
The governor said at the time that in exchange for terminating the panel’s work, he had won tougher laws on bribery and corruption and improved enforcement of election law. But the action angered Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York. Mr. Bharara appeared on a radio show days later and, in an unusual move, sharply criticized Mr. Cuomo’s decision, saying his actions made it appear as though the governor had bargained away corruption cases as part of a political deal.
Cuomo’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Zephyr Teachout (her birth name, her parents are very bad people) has gone from demanding answers to calling for his resignation.
Political realities being what they are, Ms. Teachout has no chance of winning, and Cuomo is likely to win the general by at least 20 points, we will almost certainly see 4 more years of his conservative f%$#ery, but I think that he is now officially out of the running for President 2016, and hopefully forever.