YONKERS - Calls are growing louder for a criminal investigation into whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo's office attempted to interfere with the work of a commission set up to investigate corruption.
Two days ago, a report from the New York Times cited private emails and dozens of interviews with members of the Moreland Commission who claim Cuomo's staff, including Secretary Larry Schwartz, pushed its members to cancel subpoenas to groups with ties to the governor. This included a media-buying firm Cuomo used and the Real Estate Board of New York, whose members financially supported the governor's campaign.
The Moreland Commission was created by the governor last year to declare war on corruption in Albany, but quickly disbanded this spring. The move caught the attention of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who is picking up where the commission left off and is also probing Cuomo's alleged involvement.
READ MORE: Westchester Politics
When the governor created the commission, he said it would be able to act independently and even investigate his office.
Now, Cuomo's office says it would be "a pure conflict of interest" for a commission appointed by the governor to investigate the governor. Responding to the federal probe in April, Cuomo told reporters he can't interfere with the commission, because he controls it.
Gov. Cuomo alleged interference with the commission was targeted nationally by late night show’s Tuesday including “Conan” and a segment on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show.”
Gov. Cuomo has not made a single public appearance or comment on the report since it was released.
Westchester County Executive Rob Astorino, who is running against Cuomo in the fall, says what Cuomo is accused of doing is far more troubling than what forced Democratic Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign and the bridge scandal surrounding Republican New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. "The Eliot Spitzer stuff was personal, and he resigned. Bridge-Gate was stupid, it was arrogant. This is something that goes directly at crimes, as cover-ups. Steering investigations, quashing subpoenas, an abuse of power, obstruction of justice. That's what we're talking about here. People go to jail for that,” says Astorino.
Astorino is calling for a special state prosecutor to investigate. He also says Cuomo needs to immediately hold a press conference to explain what he did and didn't know.
Meanwhile, the U.S. attorney could either clear the governor of any wrongdoing or potentially bring criminal charges. Legal experts say the federal probe should take no longer than six months, meaning the investigation findings would not be seen until after Election Day.