The Real Deal New York

Cuomo met with Moreland before subpoenas were issued

Commission looked at Albany's cozy relations with developers -- but overlooked Democrats' role
January 20, 2014 02:05PM

A Governor Cuomo-appointed panel charged with investigating corruption at the state level met with the governor two days before sending its first round of subpoenas, recently released state records show. The subpoenas were sent to the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee, but notably not to the Democratic Committee, Capital New York reported.

The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption was established as an entity independent of Cuomo’s administration, following the June 2013 revelation that several high profile real estate developers received tax abatement worth millions for Manhattan projects.

News that Cuomo met with Moreland members before they issued the subpoenas calls into question the commission’s integrity, as the group was noticeably silent on the topic of the Governor’s administration, despite his questionable ties to at least one of the developers whose projects got preferential treatment: Extell Development. Extell associates donated $100,000 to Cuomo’s campaign the same day that a bill allowing the breaks passed, published reports show.

The commission handed subpoenas to Gary Barnett, Joseph Sitt, Larry Silverstein and other major New York City developers in August, as The Real Deal reported. The group demanded correspondence regarding 421a tax breaks they received to build luxury condominiums such as One57 and 30 Park Place, which would likely have risen without tax incentives.

An October report alleged that Cuomo had urged commissioners – including Onondaga County District Attorney Bill Fitzpatrick and Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice – not to subpoena the Democratic State Committee, which he used to raise advertising campaign funds. Cuomo has denied this.

Last month, the commission issued a report saying it had found evidence of likely wrongdoing and called for an overhaul of New York’s elections and campaign finance laws. The Cuomo administration was not mentioned in the report. [Capital New York]Mark Maurer