Prosecutor: No Idea When Corruption Probe Will End

ALBANY (AP) -

The federal prosecutor who took over the files of New York’s Moreland anti-corruption commission said Wednesday that investigations into Albany’s pay-to-play politics are continuing and declined to say when they’ll be finished.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who got the files after Gov. Andrew Cuomo shut the commission in April, said in a radio interview that New York government has become “a little bit of a corruption disaster,” partly from its history of too little policing or self-policing.

His Manhattan office took the unfinished cases, including investigations of legislators, then subpoenaed commission documents and emails.

“We have a lot of files and a lot of things that we’re looking at and I can’t give a timetable even though some people would like me to, with respect to when we would finish any one of those,” he said.

Cuomo, who created the commission nine months earlier as part of his pledge to root out corruption in Albany, abruptly shut it down after he got legislators to agree to limited campaign finance reforms. He denied a report of improper interference, though he acknowledged counseling and giving advice to commissioners.

Bharara said that unfettered outside legislator earnings from those who have an interest in certain outcomes in state government, and New York’s high campaign donation limits are factors in Albany’s culture.

He noted that independence and longevity are needed for prosecutors to succeed, and also said he’d like to keep his job for a long time. Bharara has been mentioned as a possible candidate to replace outgoing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.