Just as Gov. Andrew Cuomo seemed to be building trust in his efforts to "clean up Albany," a report released this week by the New York Times has Republicans up in arms.
The report summarized findings from a three-month investigation into Cuomo's Moreland Commission, a team created in 2013 to independently investigate the effectiveness of New York's campaign finance laws, management and affairs of the state board of elections and laws relating to lobbying, conflicts of interest, and the use of tax-exempt organizations to influence public policy and elections.
While commission members attempted to execute such investigations, Cuomo and his office interfered with those tied to his financial dealings or anything painting a poor image of him, according to the Times report.
"I had great hopes that the Moreland Commission would come out with a number of recommendations that would be effective in improving the integrity of state government, including both the governor and the Legislature," said Assemblyman Andy Goodell, R-Jamestown.
"Unfortunately, we now know that the Moreland Commission was little more than a political puppet that the governor's office was controlling like a puppet master," Goodell continued.
Originally, the governor had expressed the commission would have complete freedom to investigate any state representative, including himself. He later contradicted the statement publicly, saying it would be a violation for the commission to investigate him because he had created the task force.
"Unfortunately, we now know that the Moreland Commission was little more than a political puppet that the governor's office was controlling like a puppet master."
Assemblyman Andy Goodell
A preliminary report released in December by the commission, five months before the state budget was approved, suggested lowering contribution limits, instituting public financing of campaigns, limiting use of campaign accounts and increased disclosure of outside spending - none of which Cuomo adhered to himself, according to the report.
"I was very disappointed to hear the Moreland Commission was used in such a blatantly political manner and that the governor was interfering in such a major way in the investigations while at the same time claiming that the commission was completely independent. The hypocrisy between the public statements by the governor himself and the reality of what was actually happening is shocking to the conscience," Goodell said.
William Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Moreland Commission, said in December that there was a need for public financing of campaigns as it would free elected officials from reliance on massive donations from wealthy and powerful interests.
Public financing would also invigorate citizen participation, increasing public accountability and promote trust, the report stated.
According to the Times report, Cuomo's office downplayed the importance of public financing for campaigns behind the scenes and blocked investigations into major contributors of his campaign, such as the Real Estate Board of New York.