The New York Times published a 6,500-word front page storyon Wednesday detailing how Gov. Andrew Cuomo allegedly blocked an anticorruption commission he established from investigating his allies. In response, Cuomo’s office sent the times a 13-page response that was almost as long as the story itself.
Cuomo’s response letter, which was 5,300-words long even had a two-page “ADDENDUM” section. It argued “the premise” of the Times story was “legally, ethically, and practically false.”
Among other things, the Times reported a top Cuomo aide reached out to the anticorruption commission to quash an attempt to subpoena to a media-buying firm the governor has used for his campaigns. Cuomo’s allies also allegedly moved to block an investigation into a New York real estate trade group “whose members have been among [his] most generous supporters.”
However, Cuomo insisted that, since he created the commission, it could not look into his office without running into a direct conflict of interest.
“Interestingly, if the Commission had in fact investigated the Governor, …. we believe it would have been a major problem for the Commission precisely for the point you raise: the Commission wasn’t essentially independent. A commission appointed by and staffed by the executive cannot investigate the executive. It is a pure conflict of interest and would not pass the laugh test,” the Cuomo response said.
Regardless, the entire matter appears to be a significant headache for Cuomo, a Democrat widely thought to have national ambitions. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said he hasn’t ruled out investigating the Cuomo administration for its handling of the anti-corruption commission, for example, and Cuomo’s political foes jumped on today’s Times story to accuse him of being part of Albany’s long history of political scandals.
“Governor Cuomo is in big trouble. Today’s bombshell New York Times investigative report reveals clear obstruction of justice and calculated public dishonesty by Mr. Cuomo and his subordinates,” Rob Astorino, the Republican candidate running against Cuomo, said Wednesday. “New Yorkers cannot afford to have a crook in the Governor’s Mansion.”
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