Cuomo Defends Moreland Scandal During Book Publicity Tour
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who is running in the general election for a second term, has cast aside his media avoidance of late to promote his newly released memoir.
The governor has largely avoided reporters’ questions since July when an exposé suggested he interfered in the anti-corruption panel (Moreland Commission) he set up a year earlier to clean up Albany. The strongest allegation made in the New York Times report was that Cuomo’s aides told members of the panel to drop an investigation of a media firm with ties to Cuomo’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign—but there were others zingers too.
Cuomo dissolved the Moreland Commission in March, claiming it had achieved its goals.
The release of his memoir, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and Life,” coincided with a national television appearance with Charlie Rose of “CBS This Morning,” and an extensive interview with USA Today’s Susan Page.
On Wednesday, Cuomo is expected to sign copies of the book at the Barnes & Noble in Union Square.
“All Things Possible” documents Cuomo’s rise to power as the son of three-time New York Gov. Mario Cuomo. It also includes his public divorce from Carolyn Kennedy, which he learned about from a reporter.
The Moreland Commission is not mentioned.
“That’s really a political dispute,” Cuomo responded to Page when asked about Moreland. He added that he disbanded the commission when a state ethics law achieved 85 percent of what he wanted.
“Some people say, well, I should have waited for the 100 percent. . . [but] if you hold out for the perfect in politics, you are going to get nothing done.”
The law stopped short of requiring the meaningful public campaign financing, donation limits, and spending oversights good government groups wanted.
Immediately after the scandal was revealed, Cuomo vehemently defended his dealings with the commission, and referred to it as a “phenomenal success.”
Several Moreland commissioners release statements denying the suggestion that they threatened to resign over his interference.
This landed Cuomo in more hot water when the governor’s office was accused of further interference via the coordinated response.
Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, who already had the corruption panel’s documents and had vowed to continue the work of the commission, acted quickly.
He threatened to launch an investigation into the newly alleged interference from Cuomo’s office, including whether commissioners were pressured to release statements in the governor’s defense, the New York Times first reported.
After that, the governor issued a statement saying he was merely seeking to address “numerous inaccuracies.” He then declined to comment publicly on the issue.
He has also declined to agree to a one-on-one televised debate with challenger Westchester County executive Astorino, where he would surely face his opponents taunts about Moreland.
“Governor Cuomo has time for a book tour, but he doesn’t have time to face the voters of New York,” Astorino said on Tuesday in a statement. “What an incredible insult to the electorate. What an incredible insult to democracy.”
In early August Cuomo enjoyed a 31-point lead over Republican challenger Rob Astorino. A recent Quinnipiac University poll has Cuomo’s lead narrowing to 20 points among likely voters, and some pundits are saying the election-day results may be closer than expected.
Cuomo has agreed to a sole televised debate, but broadcast coverage will be limited to the regional Buffalo area. The format will also include candidates from minor parties, not the one-on-one Astorino is seeking.