Moreland Commission Corruption

 

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Ray Walter’s Legislative Column 

            It seems like every other day we’re seeing a new headline about the governor’s Moreland Commission. Starting with the New York Times scathing and lengthy investigative report on July 23 the walls seemed to be closing in all around our once-esteemed governor in the court of public opinion. But the stakes were upped significantly when U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sent a letter to Cuomo’s office explaining that he will be looking into any illegal activity that has gone on throughout the strange case of the Moreland Commission’s short life and abrupt disbandment. 

            When Gov. Cuomo announced he was creating an independent commission to root out and expose corrupt officials in Albany, many of us were hesitant about just how effective and independent it would be. It’s no secret our state government has seen scandal after scandal, and tackling something of this magnitude would be a challenge for anyone. But the creation of this Moreland Commission gave many of us a feeling of hope. 

            Unfortunately, in its short nine-month existence, this commission produced very few tangible results. It appeared they were being out-hustled and out-shined by Bharara, who’s taken down quite a few corrupt legislators in the same timeframe. But it turns out this “independent commission” wasn't independent at all.  It appears their entire existence seemed to be nothing but a half-hearted fulfillment of a campaign promise from a gubernatorial candidate losing hold of his ‘white-knight’ persona. 

            Bharara’s investigation is ongoing, but what has already been revealed is not only damaging to the Governor but to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman as well.  All 25 members of the commission were deputized by and technically worked for AG Schneiderman, leaving him either complicit in the Governor's tampering or completely asleep at the switch. Either way, the people of New York deserve better. I have publicly called on Schneiderman to stop hiding in his Manhattan office and answer for what has transpired over the past few months. 

            It’s become painfully clear that the state government continues to be mired in a swamp of corruption and pay to play crony capitalism. The people of New York need to have confidence that our representatives are not acting in their own self interest. That's why I've been pushing for comprehensive, anti-corruption legislation. I've called for state constitutional amendments to allow for recall elections and pension forfeiture for convicted officials.  I've also advocated for the institution of eight-year term limits for legislative leaders and committee chairs, as well as criminalizing offenses that compromise the public trust.  I will continue to fight for these and other reforms until we have drained the swamp of corruption in Albany. 

             If you have questions regarding the Moreland investigation or any other state issues, please do not hesitate to e-mail me at walterr@assembly.state.ny.us, call me at 716-634-1895.  You can visit my office at 5555 Main Street in Williamsville.

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