Numerous endeavors have been undertaken recently to investigate and combat political corruption in New York that could result in more enforcement of political corruption laws in the state. Specifically, this mailing discusses such efforts by the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, the New York comptroller and the Manhattan district attorney.
United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York
Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, recently subpoenaed records from the state's Joint Commission on Public Ethics (JCOPE), seeking all complaints it received on public corruption. JCOPE's co-chairmen agreed to turn over investigative files and other materials to Mr. Bharara's office.
The subpoena came just weeks after Mr. Bharara's office took over investigations started by the now-disbanded Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption (the Commission). The Commission was created by New York Governor Cuomo under the Moreland Act and Executive Law to investigate corruption and the appearance of corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in the state. The Commission issued a report on December 2, 2013, recommending comprehensive reform in the state. Additionally, the Commission had begun several investigations, including into state lawmakers' use of campaign funds and their outside employment. On March 29, 2014, the governor announced he intended to dismantle the Commission noting that during budget negotiations, the legislature agreed to public corruption reforms, making the Commission unnecessary. Now, Mr. Bharara's office has issued subpoenas for documents from members of the Moreland Commission. Former co-chairman of the Commission, Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, indicated that the Commission turned over approximately 24 potential investigations. Mr. Fitzpatrick plans to turn over all of his records to Mr. Bharara's office, regardless of whether they are subpoenaed.
New York Comptroller
Earlier this week, New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli announced the creation of a Division of Investigations in his office. The division, formed to expand Mr. DiNapoli's current anti-corruption initiative, will be led by Nelson Sheingold, deputy comptroller and counsel for investigations.
Manhattan District Attorney
On May 2, 2014, Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr. announced the expansion of the District Attorney's Official Corruption and Public Integrity Unit into the unified Public Corruption Unit. The Public Corruption Unit will investigate and prosecute official corruption and public integrity cases and pursue legislative reform. Specifically, the public integrity arm of the unit will investigate and prosecute all types of crimes committed by public employees, elected officials, candidates for public office and other individuals who hold the public trust. The official corruption arm of the unit will investigate and prosecute uniformed public servants, such as New York Police Department officers, involved in criminal conduct.
Despite the demise of the Moreland Commission, the U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York, the New York comptroller and the Manhattan district attorney are taking up the slack. This could result in increased enforcement of public integrity cases in New York.