If you live in New York State, this story probably bring echoes of times not all that far in the past. Governor Andrew Cuomo ran for the highest office in the state on a promise to clean up the endemic corruption in Albany and the results of his efforts were, shall we say… mixed at best. (More on that below.) But with new corruption stories showing up in the press on a weekly basis, Cuomo has announced that even though some of the allegations involve activities in his own office, he’s all over this one, guys. (Journal News)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s office said it will launch its own investigation into alleged improper lobbying and “undisclosed conflicts of interest” amid what appears to be a growing federal probe into the state’s development projects in Buffalo and elsewhere.
The late Friday afternoon announcement comes amid an investigation by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara into Cuomo’s hallmark “Buffalo Billion” project that is using $1 billion of public money to revitalize New York’s largest upstate city.
Cuomo’s office was served a subpoena Friday for documents related to the federal investigation, and then Cuomo’s office said it would launch its own internal review, officials said.
Stories of corruption and campaign finance impropriety coming out of New York’s state offices are so common as to barely merit a mention these days, but a definite pattern is emerging. This is yet another case being dug into by the increasingly famous Preet Bharara, who has already taken down some of the most powerful figures in state government over the past couple of years and recently got involved in the new investigations regarding New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. I’m not sure if Bharara is being set up for a run at high office himself or a pair of cement overshoes at this point, but the man can certainly stir the pot.
This Buffalo Billion story is rather dry and I won’t go into the details here, but suffice it to say it involves large amounts of taxpayer money moving around in difficult to track ways, ostensibly for the “good of the people” as defined by the state government. You know how those programs typically end.
Of far more interest here is the idea of Cuomo’s office investigating itself. You see, there’s a bit of history which should instruct us on this matter. As I mentioned at the beginning, Andrew Cuomo has long claimed an interest in “cleaning up the system.” In fact, he ran for office on just such a promise. Once installed, he set up the now infamous Moreland Commission to investigate corruption in Albany. It initially seemed to be a well intended and serious effort at eliminating criminal fraud and abuse… that is, until they began looking into Cuomo himself, at which point he shut the commission down and sent them home. Preet Bharara dug into that one for quite a while as well and many legal analysts in New York thought Cuomo was going to be indicted over that debacle, but the case was dropped earlier this year for lack of sufficient evidence of criminal wrongdoing.
Now there’s a new set of scandals to investigate, but not to worry, citizens. Andrew Cuomo is on the job.