WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW
By Senator Rev. Rubén Díaz
District 32 Bronx County, New York
Do as I Say, Not as I Do
You should know that “Do as I Say, Not as I Do” appears to be the message that New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo is sending to every member of the State Legislature and to the people of New York.
We all know that the Moreland Commission, created by Governor Cuomo, was intended to investigate and end corruption in our State’s government and public programs. And we all know about all of the brouhaha that went along with the idea of this Commission, all of the high talk about how his Commission would be independent, and how freely his Commission Members would be able to go against anyone to weed out corruption.
You should also know that when the Moreland Commission decided to investigate the State Democratic Party and how they spend their money - surprise, surprise! – our beloved Governor (they say) got his office involved and ordered the good people of the Moreland Commission not to issue the subpoenas they had already prepared to be served on the Governor’s friend – or on the State Democratic Party.
You should know that there have been some recent developments. Due to the relentless coverage of the New York Daily News and other media outlets, the Moreland Commission will no longer withhold the subpoenas that were prepared to be served on the State Democratic Party.
I applaud the Daily News and hope they and the rest of the media will pressure the Moreland Commission to focus on the Governor. The Moreland Commission is still trying hard to avoid any investigation about his office, and will instead, target Members of the State Legislature for any impropriety or infraction.
By quashing subpoenas against the Governor’s real estate interests, we all have to wonder: what is the real point of the Moreland Commission? Is the real point of the Moreland Commission to only go after the State Legislators?
You should know that if the good people of the Moreland Commission decide to really get out there and do their job, they should be going after corruption wherever they find it.
For example, the Moreland Commission should prepare and serve subpoenas on the targets of any investigations surrounding Governor Cuomo’s real estate dealings.
These investigations should include all of the money he has been receiving from real estate interests, all of the tax breaks he has been giving to his donors from New York State, and all of the donations from real estate companies to Governor Cuomo’s campaign coffers – and to the campaign committees of other elected officials.
According to some reports, Governor Andrew Cuomo’s campaign committee has been deeply influenced by real estate interests. One of these individuals is Mr. Andrew Farkas and his Island Capital Group.
One report states that: “After his failed 2002 primary bid for governor, Cuomo found work with one-time enemy, real estate magnate Andrew Farkas. Farkas gave Cuomo a position as vice president of Island Capital where Cuomo eventually earned over $2.5 million dollars. Farkas served as Cuomo’s finance chairman when Cuomo left Island Capital to run for attorney general.”
My dear reader, why shouldn’t the Moreland Commission investigate the connection, donations, and participation of real estate magnates such Jerry Speyer and Dan Tishman?
There are also those real estate giants like Thor Equities, Silverstein Properties, Extell Development Co., Fischer Brothers and Ann/Nassau Realty. Or what about investigating the Committee to Save New York and all of its members who raised 17 million dollars to help Andrew Cuomo?
If the Governor really wants the Moreland Commission to do a respectable job, he should use himself as an example and agree to be thoroughly investigated. This way, Governor Cuomo and all the big shots at the top will have more standing to go after the little guys in the Legislature.
We don’t want the Moreland Commission to follow the bad investigation examples set in New York State that took place when Former Governor Eliot Spitzer and Former Governor David Paterson engaged in unlawful conduct.
We all remember when Governor Paterson was invited by the Yankees to attend a World Series game for free, and how the whole world turned up the heat and treated Governor Paterson like he was a criminal to the point where he had to stop his bid for reelection.
And we all remember when Governor Eliot Spitzer used the Governor’s aircraft to cross state lines and hire a prostitute and do whatever he did – and as of today, no one has been investigated or indicted about that.
There was a thorough investigation about Governor Paterson for accepting those Yankee tickets, but when Governor Spitzer violated the law, there has still been no call for an investigation.
My advice to everyone who wants to listen is if the Moreland Commission wants to be effective, it should not be staffed with the Governor’s and the Attorney General’s staff.
We all know that the Moreland Commission does not have its own staff. They use Governor Andrew Cuomo’s staff and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s staff. How could we expect any employee of the Governor or any employee of the Attorney General to investigate their boss? The Moreland Commission should let their own staffers do their job, and have the power to hire and fire their own staff.
If the Moreland Commission wants to go after any legislator – even me, Senator Rubén Díaz, it should – but it should be an independent investigation. My colleagues in government should all know that if you haven’t do anything wrong, you have nothing to fear. Let it be independent. Let it be free.
You should know that I support the Moreland Commission.
The Moreland Commission should be allowed to investigate corruption on every level of State government. It should be allowed to investigate the Assembly, the Senate, the Attorney General, the Comptroller, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Governor.
The Moreland Commission should be given their own budget and the power to hire and fire their own staff free of political influence. Let’s take it out of the Governor’s and the Attorney General’s hands and let them do a real job.
Ladies and gentlemen, you should know that compared to all the rumors of Governor Andrew Cuomo's dealings with the real estate magnates and his dealings with the Committee to Save New York – and the way all of that money has been thrown around – we in the Legislature look like saints.
This is Senator Reverend Rubén Díaz, and this is what you should know.