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Rick Lazio’s Internet publication, IGNITE, is an outlet for civil discussions on politics, economics and social issues. IGNITE will inform and engage the public to create a dialogue that will help foster positive change for the common good.
by Fredric U. Dicker, NY Post, 8/4/14 (reprinted).
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, “crazed with anger” and increasingly abusive to those around him, fears the first round of public polling since the “Morelandgate” scandal will take a major toll on his, until-now, sky-high popularity, administration insiders say.
He won’t have long to wait.
A poll designed to gauge the scandal’s impact will be released this week by the Marist Institute of Public Opinion and it could have a major impact on Cuomo’s race against Republican Rob Astorino and on his Democratic primary battle with Zephyr Teach¬out, a Fordham law professor.
Administration insiders, aware of private polling data already collected by Cuomo’s campaign, say the public poll likely will show the governor’s approval rating plummeting.
“The bad news is starting to stick. This is very serious,’’ a senior Cuomo administration figure nervously told The Post.
A second source close to Cuomo said, “We know the governor is damaged. The only question is how badly.’’
Cuomo fears a drop in the polls will trigger an influx of funds and other aid to Astorino’s cash-starved campaign and boost momentum for Teachout’s challenge.
Sources described Cuomo, who has “lawyered up’’ in the face of an ongoing criminal investigation by Southern District US Attorney Preet Bharara, as angry at his staff and furious at himself — especially over last week’s mishandling of what was supposed to be a carefully prepared counteroffensive against the scandal.
“Andrew tried to be too cute by half. He was going to orchestrate a response to the scandal to show there’s really no scandal there, but instead, he may have been involved in a federal crime,’’ said a longtime Cuomo associate, referring to Bharara’s warning to Cuomo last week that he could be guilty of interfering with federal witnesses. “Now he’s crazed with anger, and he’s taking it out on a lot of people around him,’’ the associate continued.
Pataki, the former New York governor, criticized Christie for turning his back on Astorino, a Republican looking to unseat Gov. Cuomo. Christie is the governor of New Jersey and heads the Republican Governors Association, but would not support Astorino because of Cuomo’s large lead in a recent poll. ‘To me, it’s incomprehensible and disappointing,’ Pataki said.
by Kenneth Lovett, NY Daily News, 8/4/14 (reprinted).
CREDITS: RICHARD DREW/AP, PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
ALBANY — Three years after urging Chris Christie to run for president, former New York Gov. George Pataki is now taking him to task for turning his back on the Republican candidate who is trying to unseat Gov. Cuomo.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily News, Pataki said he was dumbfounded that Christie, New Jersey’s GOP governor who also heads the Republican Governors Association, said last month he won’t help Rob Astorino’s campaign in New York because his organization doesn’t “invest in lost causes.”
“To me, it’s incomprehensible and disappointing,” said Pataki, a Republican who served three terms as New York governor.
“The RGA is a very important organization,” he said, noting that Christie’s responsibility as the group’s head is to help elect Republican governors across the nation. “At the very least, you don’t want them denigrating his efforts.”
Pataki admitted that Astorino, who trailed Cuomo, a Democrat, by 37 percentage points in a recent poll, is facing an uphill battle. But with Cuomo being probed by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara over his handling of the Moreland anti-corruption commission, Pataki said it’s too soon to write off Astorino. “To believe in July that you can predict with absolute certainty an election in November, is not right,” Pataki argued. “A lot of things are going to happen, and the Moreland Act commission is one of them.”
Part of the Federal Prosecutors’ Probe into the Moreland Commission
by Christopher M. Matthews & Erica Orden, Wall Street Journal, 8/3/14 (reprinted).
Larry Schwartz, left, and Andrew Cuomo - Mike Groll/Associated Press
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s highest-ranking aide has agreed to meet with federal prosecutors this month as their investigation into the disbanding of an anticorruption commission intensifies, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Larry Schwartz, who holds the title of secretary to the governor, agreed in recent weeks to meet with prosecutors from the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office, the person said, a development that suggests investigators are interested in learning more about the administration’s actions before and after the commission was shut down in March.
Mr. Schwartz was Mr. Cuomo’s conduit to the Moreland Commission, and it is his alleged actions that have served as the basis for accusations that the administration improperly interfered with the commission’s investigations, directing them away from any entities with ties to the governor. Mr. Schwartz didn’t respond to email or phone messages on Sunday evening.
Federal prosecutors also sent a letter last week to an attorney for the administration, Elkan Abramowitz, saying that the administration’s contact with people on the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption could represent witness tampering or obstruction of justice, according to people familiar with the matter.
Last week, prosecutors sent a similar letter to Michael Koenig, an attorney for the Moreland Commission, the person said.
Mr. Cuomo launched the Moreland Commission in July 2013, naming several district attorneys to the 25-member panel, giving them subpoena power and deputizing them as deputy attorneys general. The panel’s purpose was to investigate public corruption and Mr. Cuomo often said it would be independent of his office.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office began investigating after Mr. Cuomo shut down the Moreland Commission in a deal with the Legislature, leaving several corruption probes into New York politicians in limbo. Since then, revelations that his aides attempted to steer the commission away from investigating allies have put the Democratic governor on the defensive as he seeks re-election.
The governor promised to clean up the legislature - but now he’s the one lawyering up
by New York Daily News, 8/3/14 (reprinted).
Where Gov. Cuomo went wrong — and where many associated with his disbanded ethics commission went wrong — was in mixing law enforcement with hardball Albany gamesmanship.
By stirring the two, Cuomo transformed a drive to force reform on the Legislature into a shambles that prompted an investigation by Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.
Amazingly, it’s the governor’s office — not the Legislature — that has been forced to hire a criminal defense lawyer.
Cuomo rode his high horse into the gully.
Running for election four years ago, he said corruption and a loose ethical culture had fed the capital’s long-time dysfunction. He promised a clean-up, but the Legislature refused more than token moves on conflicts of interest and financial disclosure.
With prosecutors arresting a stream of lawmakers, Cuomo reissued a campaign vow: If the Legislature failed to enact reform laws, he would empanel a so-called Moreland Act commission to expose wrongdoing by its members.
Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate Republican chief Dean Skelos shrugged off the muscle-flexing. Finally, as urged here in a editorial headlined, “The gov who cried wolf,” Cuomo impaneled a commission.
To answer the unsettled question of whether the panel had the authority to probe the Legislature, Cuomo enlisted Attorney General Eric Schneiderman to deputize commission members, vesting them with the AG’s criminal law-enforcement powers.
At that moment, the nature of the beast changed — and his plan to use the commission to bludgeon the Legislature into reform became dangerous.