U.S. Prosecutor Warns Cuomo On Corruption Probe

ALBANY (AP) -

Gov. Andrew Cuomo faced more questions about his handling of a special anti-corruption commission Thursday after Manhattan’s federal prosecutor threatened to investigate his office for possible witness tampering and obstruction for allegedly encouraging members of the panel to speak out on Cuomo’s behalf.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who took over the commission’s investigations after Cuomo dismantled it, wrote to the commission’s attorney Wednesday saying he has “reason to believe” some commissioners were asked to release public statements on the commission’s work.

Cuomo acknowledged in a statement Thursday that his office had discussions with “relevant parties” about his concerns regarding news reports that his top aide pressured the commission not to investigate entities with ties to Cuomo.

The prosecutor’s warning is the sharpest exchange yet in the deepening controversy over Cuomo’s handling of the 25-member Moreland commission, which he created last year and abruptly disbanded this spring. Bharara, who has criticized Cuomo’s dismantling of the commission, has vowed to continue its work.

On Monday, five commissioners spoke out to defend the panel’s work and independence, accounts which backed up Cuomo’s assertions that his office did not interfere. Cuomo has pointed to the statements as evidence that there was no interference, specifically one from Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, the commission’s co-chairman, who wrote “nobody ‘interfered’ with me or my co-chairs.”

“He said he made all the decisions and they made them independently. Period. So, that’s that,” Cuomo said Wednesday.

Cuomo said he will have no additional comment since, “The U.S. Attorney has made it clear that ongoing public dialogue is not helpful to his investigation.”