Thursday, October 23, 2014

What’s going on with Preet Bharara’s Moreland Commission investigation(s) ?

Three papers each give a slightly different take on the same interview with Federal Prosecutor

Bharara has again given assurances that his office is pursuing a number of leads after federal authorities took over the Moreland Commission’s files  —   Said the US Attorney,  “We have the files, we have some of the smartest people in law enforcement continuing what was begun and that’s what we care about....”

When asked when his Moreland Commission probe might be finished, the U.S. Attorney answered  —   “You’re assuming there’s one investigation...”

Earlier today one of my most regular Baker Street Irregulars asked if I had seen or heard anything about U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara shutting down his Moreland Commission investigation. Since that would be real news, I hung up and went over to my trusty Dell and cranked it up (I know, on a comment that I made a little while ago, I said that I had no phone – well, you’ll figure it out....).  As is often the case with my contributing friend, he had the story “bass ackwards.”  One of the first items on my "little search engine that could" was an article in the Buffalo News entitled, “U.S. Attorney talks about shuttered Moreland Commission ahead of debate.”  With a title like that, of course there could be some confusion, but the text was clear that Preet Bharara was pushing forward with all due and deliberate speed.

The Buffalo News article

Here’s a couple of tasty tid-bits from that article:  “...Asked on the Capitol Pressroom public radio show what voters should think about his office’s ongoing Moreland commission probe, Bharara responded: ‘I don’t presume to tell the voters what they should or should not think.’ ***   If the governor, in advance of Wednesday night’s gubernatorial debate in Buffalo, was hoping for Bharara to publicly clear his administration, it did not come during the interview. ***   Nor did Bharara take the opportunity to beat back a Republican Party ad, which says Cuomo is under federal investigation for “witness tampering (and) obstruction of justice” for the way in which the Moreland panel was closed....”; and this: “...‘You’re assuming there’s one investigation,’ Bharara said when asked when the probe might be finished. ***   ‘He gave no timetable for the work of his office, which he said is being handled by some of the smartest people in law enforcement.’ ***   Bharara declined to answer when asked if a political bargain can be a federal crime.”  (See “U.S. Attorney talks about shuttered Moreland Commission ahead of debate” by Tom Precious, 10/22/14, The Buffalo News []).

NY Post highlighted U.S. Attorney’s knock on Governor Cuomo, but buried a similar remark about the NYS Legislature  

Here’s what the Post reported US Attorney Bharara’s  having to say about the Governor and his Moreland Commission: “U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara took an indirect swipe at Gov. Cuomo Wednesday, telling a radio interviewer that it takes independence and longevity by investigators to root out corruption – two things Cuomo’s ethics commission lacked. ***   ‘If you want to solve any problem, a corruption problem or anything else, and you decide to employ an investigative body, the only way the body will get to the root of the problem… is if it has independence....  Independence is an incredibly important thing and it is also is true that longevity of a prosecutor’s office matters also. When you’re trying to solve a problem you need some amount of longevity.’...”    Bharara said all of that on Albany’s “Capital Pressroom” according to the NY Post ( See “Preet Bharara takes swipe at Cuomo” by Aaron Short, 10/22/14, NY Post []).

It should be noted that the text of the NY Post article also contained  this passage about the legislature: “Bharara chided the legislature for not taking any action to clean up its ‘entrenched’ culture of corruption and said a prosecutor by himself  ‘won’t solve the problem.’...  ‘When you talk about corruption in Albany there has not been historically enough policing and there has not been enough self-policing,’  he said. ‘I’m not aware of any effort among the legislature.’ ”

Newsday’s coverage

A third paper, Newsday, had its own take on all of that. Its lead went like this: “U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Wednesday he has several active investigations in Albany, or, as he called the state capital, a place that sometimes looks like ‘the intersection of ambition and greed.’ ***  The comments came hours before the only televised debate in the governor's race. Democratic Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo faced opponents, including Republican Rob Astorino, who has said Albany has become more corrupt under the current administration. ***   The prosecutor, based in Manhattan, said state government continues to poorly police itself; allows big campaign contributions with few restrictions, which can lead to corruption; and hasn't limited outside jobs by lawmakers, which can lead to conflicts of interest. ***   ‘You have a recipe for what we have in New York, which is a little bit of a corruption disaster,’ Bharara said on public radio's ‘Capital Pressroom.’... ” (See “Bharara says his office running investigations in Albany” by Michael Gormley, 10/22/14,
Newsday []).

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