Andrew Cuomo

How is that Working Families Party endorsement looking now? Members of the administration of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly interfered with investigators trying to get to the bottom of political corruption in New York State. Corruption that has bubbled up from under the surface and spilled over into scandals leading to arrests and indictments that left the public outraged.

In response to public pressure to clean up state politics, Governor Cuomo established a corruption commission in July of 2013. Cuomo announced that cracking down on political corruption was a top priority and pledged to reform the system. But according to The New York Times, when investigators issued a subpoena to a media firm, Buying Time, that had Governor Cuomo as one of their clients as well as a target of an ethics investigation, they were told by one of Cuomo’s senior aides to “Pull it back.”

What happened next is highly unethical if not illegal.

The subpoena was swiftly withdrawn. The panel’s chief investigator explained why in an email to the two other co-chairs later that afternoon.“They apparently produced ads for the governor,” she wrote.

The pulled-back subpoena was the most flagrant example of how the commission, established with great ceremony by Mr. Cuomo in July 2013, was hobbled almost from the outset by demands from the governor’s office.

So firms that do business with Governor Cuomo along with those suspected of corruption are exempt from the scrutiny of corruption investigators? That sounds, ironically, like corruption.

Not surprisingly, ethics investigators saw the withdrawn subpoena and other activities instigated by Governor Cuomo’s staff as “politically motivated interference” that destroyed the independence of the commission. The Times reports that “the governor’s office deeply compromised the panel’s work, objecting whenever the commission focused on groups with ties to Mr. Cuomo or on issues that might reflect poorly on him.” Cuomo ultimately disbanded the commission half-way through its indicated term of 18 months.

Instead of cleaning up corruption in New York as he promised, Governor Cuomo clamped down on those who are trying to clean it up.

Photo by Azi Paybarah under Creative Commons license