State leaders balk at Moreland Commission subpoenas

November 26, 2013 03:26PM

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption is being legally challenged by Republican and Democratic leaders in the State Assembly and Senate.

Objectors dub the organization’s subpoenas, issued to force law firms to declare any business relationships with a legislator, “oppressive” and a “fishing expedition.” Others say the outcry only aims to protect legislators who draw compensation from those hoping to take advantage of their government connections.

The Moreland Commission slapped several of New York City’s biggest developers — Gary Barnett, Joseph Sitt and Larry Silverstein among them — with subpoenas back in August, demanding reams of correspondence concerning huge tax breaks they received to build hulking condos One57 and other projects. The commission also probed campaign donations to several mayoral candidates that same month.

The commission seeks to address the quasi-legal relationships between legislators and business, wherein many politicians appear to accept unlimited campaign funds in exchange for favors, for instance, tax abatements for real estate projects, previous reports show.

“I guess they think that we can’t follow the money, but we are,” Attorney William Fitzpatrick, the Moreland Commission co-chair, told WRVO radio in a recent interview. [Capital New York]Julie Strickland