US Attorney Preet Bharara has issued a subpoena to the NYS Ethics committee in an effort to go over all the filed claims of corruption against New York politicians in Albany. Bharara had issued a statement that he would pusue all active investigations back when the Moreland commission, who had begun multiple investigations before it was disbanded, was sacrificed in Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget deal.
Bharara was critical of the deal that had Cuomo pull the plug on the commission in exchange for the Legislature enacting an ethics package. Bharara complained that the 25-member commission made up of prosecutors and other legal experts was axed before completing its investigations.The panel turned over its files to Bharara.
In its annual report released earlier this month, the state Ethics commission reported that in 2013 it reviewed nearly 200 potential matters, the majority of which raised ethics issues, including potential conflicts of interests, improper gifts, nepotism, and post employment issues. In addition, some matters included possible violations of the state lobbying laws, including improper gifts and failure to submit proper filings. As of early April, the commission reported there were 21 open investigations and 69 other matters pending review.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics, was created in 2011 as part of an ethics overhaul agreement between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and state lawmakers, they are charged with regulating both lobbying as well as conducting probes into public officials’ official actions.
The Joint Commission on Public Ethics JCOPE routinely works with other law enforcement agencies on various cases but it will not confirm or comment on any specific investigative matter,” said the spokesman, John Milgrim.
JCOPE, unlike the Moreland Commission, has members represented by the governor’s office as well as the different legislative conferences in the Senate and Assembly.
Republicans seized on the news of the subpoena at JCOPE — though there is no indication the commission itself is under a formal investigation.
“Public ethics is of paramount importance to all New Yorkers,” said State GOP Chairman Ed Cox. “Any investigation of ethics committees is a legal, not a partisan issue. We trust the US Attorney and his team will uncover the truth.”