New York Governor Andrew Cuomo received a bit of good news just two days before he’s to give his State of the State address: the governor and his office have been cleared of any wrongdoing in the premature closing of an ethics commission.
Cuomo created a Moreland Act Commission in 2013, after he failed to win ethics reform from the legislature. He said at the time that the panel would investigate alleged wrongdoing by lawmakers and punish them. The governor shut down the commission the following March, as part of a budget deal. Critics, though said Cuomo ended the probes because they were getting too close to some of his campaign contributors, and the U.S. Attorney launched an investigation. Cuomo hired a criminal defense lawyer for his office.
Now, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says in a brief statement that his office “has concluded that, absent any additional proof that may develop, there is insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime.” But, perhaps more ominously for the legislature, he goes on to say that probes begun by the Moreland Commission are continuing. Similar investigations led to the conviction of both leaders of the legislature on multiple corruption charges in late 2015.
Here is the statement in full:
“After a thorough investigation of interference with the operation of the Moreland Commission and its premature closing, this Office has concluded that, absent any additional proof that may develop, there is insufficient evidence to prove a federal crime. We continue to have active investigations related to substantive inquiries that were being conducted by the Moreland Commission at the time of its closure.”
Cuomo's defense attorney issued a brief statement.
"We were always confident there was no illegality here, and we appreciate the U.S. Attorney clarifying this for the public record,” said Elkan Abramowitz.