ALBANY – Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he does not know if his anti-corruption commission has uncovered any possible illegal activities by state lawmakers, but feels legislators are making a mistake if they challenge the Moreland Commission’s decision to subpoena information about outside income.
“I think they’re compounding the public sense that they have something to hide,’’ Cuomo said Wednesday when asked about possible legal challenges by lawmakers to subpoenas issued by the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption.
Senate and Assembly officials declined to publicly comment on Cuomo’s claims. But one legislative official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said, “The governor knows better. This is about preserving the separation of powers that exists between two distinct branches of government.’’
Legislative officials have said information about lawmakers’ outside income is already disclosed on their annual ethics filings, and that the information Cuomo’s panel is now seeking – such as names of clients by legislators who work for law firms – crosses the legal lines of separation of powers.
The governor, in his first public appearance at the state Capitol since July 2, also dismissed criticism that the commission is focusing its efforts on the 213-member State Legislature and not others, including Cuomo, who is the state’s top political fundraiser with more than $28 million in the campaign bank.
Cuomo said Albany’s scandals in recent years have been centered in the Legislature. “The reason I empaneled the Moreland [Commission] was because of the rash of corruption,’’ he said of the Legislature.
Asked if he had any indications that the commission, which he formed in early July, had uncovered possible criminal wrongdoing by any legislators, Cuomo said: “I have not.’’
He said the commission is due to issue a preliminary report, with policy recommendations, on Dec. 1. “I don’t know how far they’ve gotten on an investigation and I don’t know if they do have evidence, but we’ll find out when they do the preliminary report,’’ the governor said.
He said it is “probably true’’ that there are only “a few bad apples’’ in the Legislature, suggesting there is not, as one Moreland official recently claimed, a systemic ethical problem in the two houses.
The governor suggested his Moreland Commission, which has been criticized in the media for being selective in its investigation of certain entities that are close to Cuomo, will help restore the public’s trust in the Legislature. “I think it will make the Legislature a more rewarding job,’’ he said.
Bipartisan legislation was introduced Tuesday to require companies seeking contracts with state agencies to disclose information about campaign contributions as part of the bidding process.