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Gov. Cuomo Appoints Commission to Fight Corruption in Albany

By Pedro Oliveira Jr | July 2, 2013 1:33pm
 Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a group of law enforcement officials which will be tasked with fighting corruption in Albany.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a group of law enforcement officials which will be tasked with fighting corruption in Albany.
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New York State Office of the Governor

ALBANY — A group of “legendary” law enforcement officials have been tasked with sniffing out corruption in Albany,  Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Tuesday.

They've been handed powers to scrutinize misconduct and make recommendations for legislative action.

The governor’s 25-member Moreland Act commission will have the authority to issue subpoenas.

It's expected to pay particular attention to the Board of Elections and campaign finance law violations, the governor said.

“The recent rash of wrongdoing by legislators in Albany has shaken the public confidence, the public trust in government — from one end of the state to the other,” Cuomo said in announcing the commission on Tuesday flanked by district attorneys from around the state and New York City.

“It’s not that corruption in government is new. In many ways, it’s the oldest crime, how power corrupts. But it’s inexplicable. To me, public corruption is a double crime: It’s the underlying crime and the crime of breaching the public trust.”

The commission will be co-chaired by Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice, Milton Williams Jr., who helms the Fund for Modern Courts, and Syracuse DA William Fitzpatrick.

Other prominent members of the 25-person panel include former Manhattan US Attorney Benito Romano, Bronx DA Robert Johnson, Franklyn County DA Derek Champagne, Rockland County DA Thomas Zugibe and Onondaga County Executive Joanne Mahoney.

NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, former Manhattan DA Robert Morgenthau and state police Superintendent Joseph D'Amico will join the commission as special advisers. 

Their first task will be to compile a preliminary report about the state of government corruption by Dec. 1. A final report will be due at the end of 2014.

Cuomo said he wants the commission to send a sign to two audiences — corrupt officials and citizens who’ve lost trust in their lawmakers.

“You have legendary law-enforcement talent on this commission,” he added. “This is a powerful, powerful signal.”

Cuomo’s announcement comes just three months after several elected officials were slapped with corruption charges. State Assemblyman Eric Stevenson was arrested April 4 for taking more than $22,000 in bribes.

Just two days earlier, State Sen. Malcolm Smith and City Councilman Dan Halloran were charged with bribing Republican officials to get Smith, a Democrat, on the GOP ballot.