Today's New York Times article on the Moreland Commission is a disturbing documentation of the ongoing efforts by Governor Cuomo and his staff to prevent an independent investigation into corruption at the State Capitol. Mr. Cuomo's behavior, including deceiving the public as to the workings of the Commission, falls far short of the minimum ethical standards for the highest elected official in our state.
Even the Commission's one watered down report stated that state government is “a pay-to-play political culture driven by large checks." Cuomo is the kingpin of that domain, as his $40 million plus election war chest highlights. Cuomo and his staff however ensured that key issues that would reflect badly on him were stricken from the report, especially information that investigators had learned about the powerful Real Estate Board of New York and its political donations.
While we are encouraged that the US Attorney has picked up investigations dropped by Cuomo's disbanding of the Commission, this story makes clear the urgent need for an independent criminal and ethical investigation of the activities of Mr. Cuomo, starting with the enormous amount of massive campaign contributions he has raised during his tenure. This investigation needs to examine the funds that Governor has raised - and spent - for various party and independent committees that he has controlled, as well as the potential misuse of public funds to promote his candidacy.
As I have pointed out in this and prior campaigns, it is impossible for politicians to effectively investigate themselves. That is why I have called for non lawmakers to control bodies such as JCOPE.
Albany has long been for sale to the highest bidder. Taxpayers end up funding special deals crafted by lawmakers to enrich their contributors, friends and relatives - and often with kickbacks or backdoor payments to the legislators. It is why we need a full public campaign finance proposal that eliminates the role of large private donations that would largely continued under the various partial campaign finance proposals advanced by the Democratic Party and their supporters.
Earlier this month in Binghamton, in addressing the culture of corruption in Albany that has sent dozens of state lawmakers to jail, I noted: While Watergate is viewed as our generation's greatest political scandal, the reality is that the morals of political officials have dramatically declined since then. Behavior considered shocking by public officials 40 years ago is now treated as routine. The great shift in wealth to the very rich over the last forty years has gone hand and hand with the perception by lawmakers that they are entitled to treat public service as a license to enrich themselves." http://www.howiehawkins.org/clean_up_albany_corruption
Voters know that both major parties are corrupt. I hope that on election day voters will demand that the corruption in Albany be finally be ended by sweeping out the two parties that have too long treated the state treasury as their personal ATM.