NEW YORK—Gov. Andrew Cuomo has grown reticent in recent weeks on the Moreland Commission, preferring to let political allies bolster his image.
Before the governor began his march in the Dominican Day Parade in Midtown Manhattan, he spent a few minutes with members of the press corps, who asked Cuomo for updates on the federal investigation of the Moreland Commission.
“There’s no news from the Moreland Commission since the last time we talked. My answer is same thing I’ve been saying in the last few weeks, nothing’s changed,” was all Cuomo told reporters before walking off.
Cuomo dissolved the anti-corruption panel in March, triggering a federal investigation that has turned up evidence of Cuomo’s aides telling members of the panel to drop an investigation of a media firm with ties to Cuomo’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign.
Earlier in the day, Cuomo had stood by state Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who praised the governor for his record of rent control.
“The governor was instrumental in bringing some tenant protection, we need him back there to work with us, we’re going to be fighting for tenants to be protected,” Espaillat said.
Cuomo’s reserve is in line with his strategy in recent weeks to deflect on the subject of the Moreland Commission with talk of other, less controversial projects.
This pattern is a 180-degree reversal from his initial reaction to the media fallout after news of the federal investigation of his dissolution of the Moreland Commission became widely known.
In his first meeting with the press after the Times report, Cuomo vehemently defended his dealings with the commission, calling it a “phenomenal success.”
Prior to the article’s print date the governor’s office had sent a 13-page letter responding to questions by The New York Times on the subject.
Failing to quell the controversy, Cuomo chose to defer to the testimonies of members of the now-defunct Moreland Commission, which further backfired by grabbing the attention of federal prosecutors.
On June 28, several Moreland commissioners released statements denying that they threatened to resign to protest the administration’s interference with the commission, which tipped off federal prosecutors that Cuomo’s office might have pressured them, the Wall Street Journal reported.
The Moreland Commission investigation isn’t the only thorn in Gov. Cuomo’s side. His campaign has been trying to knock Zephyr Teachout, his challenger in the Democratic primary this fall, off the ballot by contesting her residency record in the state.
Cuomo, who is down 5 percent in the polls since last month, still has a 31-point lead over Rob Astorino, his Republican rival in the governor’s race, and Teachout’s favorability ratings are still in the single digits.
The primary is on Sept. 9.