ProPublica has been doing some top notch work investigating the ongoing scandals plaguing New York Governor Mario Cuomo, and they continue that excellent job this week with a report on one of Cuomo’s lobbyist friends. Howard Glaser is a lobbyist for the mortgage industry (among other areas of influence) who has frequently been cited as a consultant for Cuomo when he was Attorney General. This could obviously present some conflict of interest issues (at a minimum) if he was still influential with the Governor at the same time that Cuomo was ostensibly trying to root out corruption in the mortgage industry in his capacity as Top Cop. Of course, when asked about it, the Governor has downplayed the relationship and denied any improper influence. But as ProPublica has found out through previously unreleased emails, that story is looking pretty weak.
Previously undisclosed emails by a mortgage industry lobbyist doubling as a consultant for then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo show the lobbyist played a self-described “critical role” in one of Cuomo’s signature financial crisis investigations.
The emails from 2007 and 2008 detail how the lobbyist, longtime Cuomo confidant Howard Glaser, was involved in an investigation of mortgage industry players that included Glaser’s own clients.
In one email, Glaser touted his influence over a Cuomo deal that weakened rules to prevent misdeeds in the mortgage market. That deal, with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reflected Glaser’s “significant, critical, and current input,” he wrote in an email, “a fact to which current [Fannie and Freddie] employees and the NYAG’s office are prepared to attest.” Fannie and Freddie were both Glaser’s clients.
The emails contradict Glaser’s previous account of his involvement in Cuomo’s investigations.
This is a fascinating report and well worth a look at the full details. Glaser has basically been going around bragging in private over how much time he spends with the Governor and his staff and how much pull he’s had. This is clearly good for business if you’re a lobbyist taking in big dollars from major firms, but doesn’t paint a pretty picture for the administration.
Of course, the fruits of this bit of investigative journalism lead to another glaringly obvious question. Earlier today we discussed the news that Andrew Cuomo’s administration has implemented a policy of deleting most government emails after only 90 days and has been purging thousands of them. These revelations about Glaser were only made possibly because they were able to summon up emails from 2007 and 2008. When writing about this new policy, I asked who could possibly benefit from such a purge of public records.
This report suggests the most obvious answer. I’ll provide one hint here… it’s not you.