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Legislators react to federal Moreland Commission investigation

ALBANY -- Lawmakers are still sounding off about the Moreland Commission and the growing questions surrounding Governor Andrew Cuomo after his alleged meddling with members of that deputized government body. 

They are also questioning the more recent actions of Cuomo's aides allegedly asking some Moreland members to say positive things about the commission.

Several legislators on both sides of the aisle agree the Moreland Commission should not have been broken up because it served the important purpose of investigating suspected government corruption, something New York has become known for. Some legislators say they would still like to know the reasoning behind Cuomo disbanding it.

But not everyone was eager to speak their minds on the Moreland Commission federal investigation that's now underway.

"I'm not going to comment on an ongoing investigation," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.

Schneiderman is the man who deputized commissioners of the Moreland Commission before Cuomo abruptly shut it down. This was also before the U.S. attorney's office got involved.

"My office is cooperating with United States attorney and we... We'll leave it at that," Schneiderman said.
Former Moreland Commission member and Albany County District Attorney David Soares had much of the same tight-lipped response to reporters' questions.

"Given the ongoing federal inquiry, investigation, it would be irresponsible of me to make any comment regarding Moreland and I certainly hope that you would understand that," Soares said.     

Meanwhile, Republican Assemblyman Steve McLaughlin is taking to Twitter and is not afraid to accuse Cuomo of using "fear and intimidation" tactics to keep members of the disbanded commission quiet.

"Now we're starting to talk about obstruction of justice, obstruction of governmental administration. This is really serious stuff. Witness tampering," McLaughlin said.
No official charges from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara have been brought about but just this week the New York Times reported Bharara's office sent Cuomo a pointed warning threatening to look into the possibility that Cuomo's office tampered with witnesses by asking former commission members to comment publicly.

"And lo and behold don't they come out with very, very similar statements just moments before the governor appears," McLaughlin said. 

The governor has not made many public statements on the matter other then to claim he is correcting what he called "media inaccuracies."

Meanwhile, some of Cuomo's Democratic counterparts are not surprised about the federal prosecutor's investigation.

"[Bharara] might be, that office might be, the only objective entity to really be doing the investigation so I don't get terribly excited about that at this stage of the game," Democratic Assemblyman John McDonald said.

This federal investigation may not be the only investigation that gets underway as some lawmakers are calling for the legislature to use its power to appoint a special prosecutor to look into the Moreland Commission as well.
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