Tag Archives: Moreland Commission

Cuomo’s Betrayal

25 Jul

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

The biggest and worst problem plaguing Albany and New York State politics is corruption. Albany’s especial brand of dysfunction thrives in an opaque environment, and there is a complete and bipartisan absence of political or moral will to change it. It’s been well over a decade since people and organizations began to seriously address this culture of corruption, and NYU’s Brennan Center deserves kudos for pushing the issue with specificity

It was almost a decade ago that Suffolk County Executive Tom Suozzi barnstormed the state, seeking the Democractic nomination for governor under the banner of “Fix Albany”. We send Assemblypeople and Senators to Albany, and while we see occasional profiles in courage, like Mark Grisanti’s pivotal vote on same-sex marriage, these individuals do little legislating and a lot of grandstanding. Nothing ever changes, and there’s no one who’s all that interested in cleaning Albany up. 

Enter Andrew Cuomo, a former Attorney General who swept into Albany to get things done, but also to restore trust in state institutions. While he has infuriated the gun-hugging areas of the state outside the NYC media market, he has now successfully angered the left, most starkly by helping to maintain a Republican Senate majority. In order to secure the Working Families Party’s Wilson Pakula, Cuomo decided to actually back members of his own party to win Senate races. 

But his most promising act was to establish a “Moreland Commission” to investigate corruption in Albany – most importantly, the misuse and corruption surrounding campaign finance in the state. This dovetailed nicely with Cuomo’s now-erstwhile support for public financing of elections – a goal he all but abandoned in order to “get things done” with respect to a budget deal with the other two men in the room. (That hasn’t changed, either). 

This New York Times article is a blockbuster of investigative journalism, outlining the ways in which Governor Cuomo’s office micromanaged and hamstrung the work the Moreland Commission was doing before he unceremoniously and summarily killed it in order to “get things done” viz. budget deal with Silver and Skelos. Here is a brilliant timeline that the Times put together. Luckily, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, Preet Bharara, is picking up where the defunct commission left off, investigating and prosecuting obvious illegality. 

I frankly don’t get it. If Cuomo’s aim is to ascend to the White House, he’s just dealt himself a huge blow. It won’t do much to say, “I fixed Buffalo, the unfixable” when opponents and allies alike view him with distrust because when it came time to address the state’s most pressing problem, Cuomo whiffed. 

He didn’t just whiff – he threw the game. 

I’m not going to support Astorino, and Zephyr Teachout lost me by holding a “Cuomo resign” presser with Astorino. It’s high time we stopped demanding resignation and impeachment every time a politician does something stupid or with which we disagree. It’s stupid and childish.

I want someone to say that the NY SAFE Act is a distraction from the real problems we have, like unfunded mandates, the Gap Elimination Adjustment robbing schools blind, the completely unregulated and mismanaged state Authorities, our corrupt and corrupting Wilson Pakula/electoral fusion system whereby party endorsements are exchanged for money and jobs, and the toothless, ineffective board of elections that is unable or unwilling to investigate and prosecute campaign finance fraud. These are all long-standing issues, and very well known. But New York has a dictatorship of the bureaucracy, and for some reason elected officials have no will to fight that tyranny of the careerists. Even, tragically, Andrew Cuomo. 

Getting things done is great, and it’s a welcome change from the feckless Pataki Adminstration. But New York Democrats have had almost 10 years to do something meaningful about not just the symptoms, but the root causes of why the state underperforms economically – especially outside of the New York City metro. 

Four years ago, a New York Observer article wrote that mine was the “Site that Saved Andrew Cuomo”. I don’t – for a second – doubt, question, or regret my 2010 support for Cuomo over Carl Paladino. But in 2014, the continued state gutting of public school budgets, tyranny of the Authorities, continued erosion of public trust through “electoral fusion” dealmaking,  and Albany’s unwillingness to heal itself make me wish for a true alternative – not just a Westchester County apparatchik or a leftist Manhattan protest candidate. 

New York isn’t broken because of the number of bullets you can put in a magazine is now restricted. But your focus on things like that help to distract you from genuine problems that affect us all. 

Exposing Public Corruption in NY: Laughable

15 Oct

It’s only a matter of time before we see former Erie County District Attorney Mark Sacha’s evidence of election law violations perpetrated by Steve Pigeon and the minor fusion parties with which he brokers deals. In the meantime, we get to enjoy Sacha’s relentless criticism of Governor Cuomo’s Moreland Commission on Public Corruption, which is turning out to be nothing but a lot of show

State government in New York is a set of two compliant mafia families, and any effort to expose or repair the horrible, corrupt way New York operates is strictly forbidden – it violates the code of silence. Don’t kill the job. 

Letter to Moreland Commission, Erie County and NY State Boards of Election

Also – do you remember when Joe Illuzzi was alive, Pigeon would feed him articles and information to post? Then Bob McCarthy would get around to printing it in the paper in some way? Now that Illuzzi’s dead, Pigeon only has Parlato and the Niagara Falls Reporter, and no one really reads that regularly outside of the Falls. So, now, he funnels his advertorials about how influential he is directly to the News, which thankfully bothered to vet the information with other people. 

One of these days, the law’s going to catch up. 

 

Sacha Testifies

26 Sep

As you already know from this week’s print edition of Artvoice, former Erie County D.A. Mark Sacha gave testimony before the Moreland Commission on Public Corruption which is charged with, among other things, investigating chronic and widespread violations of the election law and corruption in political campaigns. Sacha is speaking truth to power, and if anyone should be paying close attention, it’s this particular commission with respect to this particular problem. 

I am here to advise the public and the voting citizens of New York of the “elephant in the room”, the hypocrisy which has not yet been addressed before this Commission. Election fraud and public corruption are not prosecuted properly, not because of a lack of laws in this State, but by a lack of will. The sad reality is that District Attorneys are political. Many have horrible conflicts of interest, which affect their ability to act. In order to reach their position, they make alliances, accept money and cut political deals with other politicians. They reach their goals through these people.

The public has the right to know the truth based on my own personal experience. In 2008, I conducted an investigation that uncovered widespread criminal election law violations by a number of individuals, including Steven Pigeon, a person who has close political ties to Pedro Espada, Governor Cuomo, former Erie County District Attorney Frank Clark, and present District Attorney Frank Sedita, who is also a member of this panel. I personally handed Mr. Sedita a 53 page memo outlining the facts surrounding my 2008 investigation.

As a result of my attempt to do the right thing and hold Mr. Pigeon accountable, I was retaliated against by his friend, Frank Sedita. When I informed the public of Mr. Sedita’s hypocrisy and misconduct, I was fired.

Now four years later, the same pattern of misconduct is occurring in Erie County. The September 22, 2013 edition of the Buffalo News contained a lengthy article detailing new allegations of illegal conduct by Pigeon. Current election campaigns are wrought with allegations of false filings, straw donors and donations which exceed contribution limits. This Commission has received a complaint about Mr. Pigeon. These allegations of corruption in Erie County have gone on for years.

Prosecuting the powerless is easy. The real test is when you are asked to investigate the powerful. District Attorney Sedita has failed the test.

Chronic, widespread illegality that no one investigates or prosecutes. Ever. This is the stuff of banana republics. The only things missing are the gold cars and epaulets.