BY Ken Lovett
Here is an expanded version of the lead item from my “Albany Insider” column today:
Gov. Cuomo plans to holster–for now–his biggest weapon in the fight against legislative corruption, a source familar with his thinking says.
Cuomo is expected this week to propose additional reforms to the electoral and campaign-finance systems, but will stop short of calling for creation of a special panel with subpoena power to probe corruption in the Legislature, the source said.
Following a string of recent corruption collars, Cuomo has said he was open to the possibility of a creating an investigative commission pursuant to the Moreland Act, which dates to the early 1900s and allows the executive branch to probe the actions of any part of state government.
In recent weeks, federal agents have arrested two state lawmakers, a city councilman, two city Republican political leaders and two upstate officials on corruption raps.
But the source says the governor recognizes that empaneling a corruption-probing body is the equivalent of declaring war on the Legislature. “He doesn’t want to blow up the rest of the legislative session,” the source explained.
“The governor views the rest of the session as an opportunity to pass real reform measures that in any other circumstance would be nearly impossible to move,” the source added. “You can always do a Moreland Act commission after the session. Why blow up the session now when you can always return to it later?”
Last week Cuomo proposed three bills that he said would make it easier for district attorneys to pursue corruption cases against state and local government officials. He is expected to build on those measures this week.
Cuomo has previously used the threat of a special commission as a negotiating hammer to arrive at improvements to ethics-related laws. In 2011, he threatened to investigate the legislature if it did not agree to an ethics reform package. The legislature fell in line.
This article was written by Ken Lovett and originally published on nydailynews