On the heels of reports that New York Governor Cuomo’s staff interfered with investigations into corruption involving firms connected to the governor, the US Attorney for New York, Preet Bharara, has warned Cuomo and staff about obstructing justice and witness tampering.
Governor Cuomo’s staff have reportedly already told a New York state commission investigating corruption, the Moreland Commission, to pull back subpoenas from political consulting firms that work with Governor Cuomo’s re-election campaign. This despite Governor Cuomo himself establishing the commission to respond to a wave of corruption plaguing New York state government.
The letter from the US Attorney came after Cuomo’s staff issued public defenses of their behavior in response to a New York Times story detailing the interference with the commission from Governor Cuomo’s office.
The letter from prosecutors, which was read to The New York Times, says, “We have reason to believe a number of commissioners recently have been contacted about the commission’s work, and some commissioners have been asked to issue public statements characterizing events and facts regarding the commission’s operation.”
“To the extent anyone attempts to influence or tamper with a witness’s recollection of events relevant to our investigation, including the recollection of a commissioner or one of the commission’s employees, we request that you advise our office immediately, as we must consider whether such actions constitute obstruction of justice or tampering with witnesses that violate federal law.”
Cuomo staff’s official actions are now vying for parity in underhandedness with their unofficial actions. A spokesperson for Governor Cuomo’s re-election campaign admitted that the Cuomo campaign was “affiliated” with those staging protests against progressive candidate for New York Governor Zephyr Teachout at her events. Teachout nearly won the endorsement from the New York Working Families Party over Cuomo and has been attracting liberal and progressive support throughout the state.
The New York Working Families Party ultimately decided to endorse Cuomo in a quest for relevance and to avoid retaliation against its union members via state contracts if Cuomo won without the endorsement. The NYWF pragmatists that prevailed in pushing Cuomo over Teachout better hope the US Attorney keeps his opposition to Cuomo’s activities limited to strongly worded letters or they sold out their principles for nothing.
Photo by Azi Paybarah under Creative Commons license