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After NY lawmakers dismantle anti-corruption commission, U.S. Attorney steps in

N.Y. Governor Andrew Cuomo, courtesy of Capitol Pressroom via YouTubeAt the end of March, New York State legislators shut down the commission to investigate bribery among its ranks, citing changes to certain rules that made the commission unnecessary.

The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption had been created by Governor Andrew Cuomo and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in July 2013 after a rash of bribery arrests and ethical breaches.

A report released in December did not give the names of those currently being investigated, and the commission said the probes were preliminary.

The report alleged that legislators under review by the commission had conflicts of interest, accepted bribes in pay-to-play scenarios, and spent campaign funds on personal expenses.

Cuomo agreed to pull the plug on the Moreland Commission as part of budget negotiations.

Legislators agreed to make a few changes to campaign-finance requirements (to require more transparency regarding donors to committees) and bribery laws (to require tougher penalties), and to use public financing for this year’s race for state comptroller.

Critics contend the changes are minor and don’t go far enough to address the problems the commission was starting to investigate and expose.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sent a letter to the members of the Moreland Commission last Wednesday, saying he wanted to review what they were working on before the group’s funding was pulled.

Bharara has been critical of the statehouse for not doing more to police itself, particularly since his office had prosecuted many of the corruption cases that the commission was investigating.

The commission’s leaders agreed to hand over their files to Bharara.


Julie DiMauro is the executive editor of FCPA Blog and can be reached here.

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