A Republican super PAC requests Cuomo’s Moreland records

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Cuomo announces the anti-corruption commission. (Flickr)
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A national Republican group is looking for fresh material to illustrate Andrew Cuomo's Moreland Commission problem.

Today, America Rising, a Republican super PAC, will file a Freedom of Information Law request for records related to the Cuomo administration's role in the commission's subpoena process.

Cuomo appointed the Moreland Commission in July, after legislators failed to pass a new ethics bill during the legislative session, despite a spate of arrests that include members of the State Legislature.

But the commission hasn't gone exactly as planned. Legislators promptly rebuffed requests to dislose their outside income, and when the commission's investigation expanded to include some Cuomo allies, the administration reportedly intervened to deflect the subpoenas. 

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The letter from America Rising quotes two Daily News stories that reported commissioners were discouraged from issuing subpoenas to the Real Estate Board of New York and to the New York State Democratic Party. Neither of those groups was ultimately subpoenaed, though the state Republican and Independence parties did receive subpoenas.

"These reports indicate Governor Cuomo and his top aides have intervened in the affairs of an independent board to protect his political donors and advance the interests of his party, while launching partisan investigations against his opponents," writes Tim Miller, the executive director of America Rising, in the FOIL request. "This would be a gross violation of the public trust."

America Rising specializes in opposition research, and was conceived in part as an answer to Democratic groups like American Bridge, which helped derail Todd Akin's Senate bid in Missouri, and repeatedly dinged Mitt Romney during the presidential election.

The group, which is based outside of Washington, D.C., was formed in March by Miller, a former spokesman for the Republican National Committee, and Joe Pounder, the R.N.C.'s former research director.

In his letter, Miller specifically requests any "copies of all physical and or electronic correspondence, memoranda, scheduled meetings and records of phone calls between the staff of Governor Andrew Cuomo and members and staff of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption" with regard to the Real Estate Board and party-related subpoenas.

Cuomo has denied that he personally intervened to affect the subpoena process, but the governor was less definitive about whether his aides may have been involved.

"You know that the Moreland Commission is staffed by people from the governor's office and the attorney general's office. We staff the commission,” Cuomo told reporters in Utica last week. “The co-chairs vote on what subpoenas to do and it requires a unanimous vote of the co-chairs.”

Targeting Cuomo would seem to reflect the governor's good standing heading into 2016. America Rising has put a particular focus on framing possible presidential candidates, including a "Stop Hillary" campaign that's hoping to damage or derail her potential candidacy.

The group also assists in contested congressional and gubernatorial elections, and it rankled members of Congress over the summer when it sent trackers into the Capitol building.

Cuomo's race for re-election is not currently expected to be competitive.

131015 America Rising Moreland FOIL by JimmyVielkind