New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) and his office stymied investigations into political allies and associates being undertaken by an independent commission that Cuomo created to stop public corruption, the New York Times reported on Wednesday after a three-month investigation by the newspaper.
The most obvious interference, according to the Times, came when the commission sent a subpoena to Buying Time, a media company through which Cuomo had spent $20 million on ads since 2002. The commission was looking into the company's relationship with the New York Democratic Party, and it did not know of the firm's ties to Cuomo when it issued the subpoena.
A top Cuomo aide, Lawrence Schwartz, quickly scuttled the order. "This is wrong," he told a commission chairman, according to the Times. "Pull it back."
The episode was, according to the newspaper's investigation, part of a broader pattern of behavior by the governor's office. Cuomo disbanded the commission a full eight months before it was supposed to finish its work, claiming a legislative reform package that many criticized as watered down was the culmination of its duties.
In a 13-page statement to the Times, Cuomo's office dismissed the premise of the newspaper's investigation as "legally, ethically and practically false."
"Your fundamental assertion is that the Commission was independent. It wasn't," the office wrote. The statement also said that many of the companies for which Cuomo's staff had reportedly interfered did eventually receive subpoenas. That included Buying Time, according to the Times.
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