PUBLISHED : THURS, 10 APR 2014, 10:26 AM
UPDATED : SUN, 13 APR 2014, 08:03 PM
The culture of corruption up in Albany mirrors the cultures in Washington and New York City, and the lax justice departments at each level of government play politics with justice, except for one man, Preetinder Bharara
- RELATED : Twin $50,000 donations were made to Andrew Cuomo’s campaign by two companies that have the same address as Extell Financial Services, which is part of Extell Development Co. — one of five developers to receive hefty tax relief thanks to a bill signed by the governor two days after the contributions. (Gov. Cuomo got $100,000 from developer, then signed law giving it big tax breaks * The New York Daily News)
- RELATED : Manhattan-based Extell Development was one of five firms subpoenaed by the Moreland Commission last week. Its affiliates donated $100,000 to Cuomo's campaign days before he signed a bill earlier this year that included tax breaks for one of its marquee projects. (Cuomo real estate donors among Moreland subpoena targets * Times Union)
- RELATED : Gov. Cuomo is doing damage-control over anti-corruption commission subpoenas. (Governor Andrew Cuomo Quashes Moreland Commission’s REBNY Subpoena and Other Follow-The-Money Subpoenas Hitting Too Close To Home * Noticing New York)
Journalist superhero Matt Taibbi was interviewed by Leonard Lopate on WNYC earlier this week during which Mr. Taibbi said that our broken justice system allows "massively destructive fraud by the hyper-wealthy to go unpunished, while it turns poverty itself into a crime." But Mr. Taibbi doesn't even address who politicizes the wide swath of city, state, and federal prosecutors that renders our justice system so broken.
The top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Preetinder Bharara, has asked the press to step up their investigation work against a backdrop of Justice Department budget cuts made by the White House and Congress. On the state level, Gov. Andrew Cuomo's most recent state budget stripped valuable resources from state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, leaving him with fewer resources to fight corruption. In another controversial move in the same budget deal that further undercut the state's important prosecutorial work, Gov. Cuomo disbanded the Moreland Commission, a public corruption investigation panel tasked with cleaning up government across New York state. More locally, the corrupt DA in Manhattan, Cy Vance, can't keep running for office without the consent of the Manhattan Democratic Party chair ; same for the other county prosecutors in New York City. That approval acts as a backdoor check on what kind of corruption cases the county DA's can bring, because the DA's have to be mindful not to investigate corrupt political operatives and supporters, who are loyal to the county chairs. Look at how all this corruption happens all over New York City, but nobody ever gets prosecuted by the Manhattan DA's office.
With these conditions undermining our justice system, the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, like the hero in "High Noon," is forced to rescue almost single-handedly a town from crooks, who are about to lay siege. Indeed, The New York Times reported that Mr. Bharara is going to take possession of all of the Moreland Commission’s case files, or whatever is left of them. "Staff members of the panel, several said, regularly deleted emails and often communicated with BlackBerry messages not recorded on government servers," the article in The New York Times noted.
ICYMI Fitzpatrick on end of Moreland Commission: People erroneously thought we were 'super cops' http://t.co/JpZAQJJHI5— Teri Weaver (@TeriKWeaver) April 1, 2014
Gov. Cuomo’s obstruction of the Moreland Commission's work, some bloggers said, represented politically-motivated machinations to prevent the potential for an embarrassment for the governor during an election year, particularly since the Moreland Commission had subpoenaed records from some of the governor's shady political supporters, such as those in the corrupt real estate industry known for making big money campaign contributions in exchange for zone-busting approvals and huge tax breaks. Examples of how Gov. Cuomo obstructed the investigations of the Moreland Commission included actions by Lawrence Schwartz, the governor’s secretary, and Mylan Denerstein, Gov. Cuomo’s counsel, who each "would routinely call and say, ‘How can you issue a subpoena like this?’ or ‘These people shouldn’t be on it,’" a Moreland Commission member told The New York Times. Further complicating the Moreland Commission's own work was the fact that one of its co-chairs, Bill Fitzpatrick, an upstate district attorney, publicly disavowed the investigation panel's crucial role in busting up public corruption in New York state. Another panel co-chair, Kathleen Rice, a district attorney from Long Island, ditched her responsibilities on the Moreland Commission once she had gained enough fame to run for Congress.
- RELATED : U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara Criticizes Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s Closing of Moreland Commission Public Corruption Investigation Panel (The New York Times)
- RELATED : To scuttle possibly devastating investigations into public corruption in his own political party during an election year, Gov. Cuomo announced that he was shutting that whole Moreland Commission down (NYC : News & Analysis)
- RELATED : Cuomo’s Push to End Moreland Commission Draws Backlash, Angers Government Reform Activists (The New York Times)
- RELATED : Preet Bharara won't rule out ethics probe into Gov. Andrew Cuomo's possible interference with Moreland Commission (The New York Daily News)
- RELATED : ‘Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day:’ Preet Bharara Continues Cuomo Criticism on Anti-Corruption Commission (The New York Observer)
- RELATED : Bharara on the premature end of Cuomo’s ethics commission (Capital New York)
- RELATED : Preet Bharara Criticizes Gov. Cuomo For Closing Corruption Commission (The Wall Street Journal)
- RELATED : The Advance Group Federal Complaint Referred To Moreland Commission (NYC : News & Analysis)
- RELATED : Scott Levenson, NY-CLASS, Citizens United Super PAC Investigation (NYC : News & Analysis)
- RELATED : Extell George Arzt Moreland Commission Christine Quinn One57 Connections (Christine Quinn Sold Out)
And to make it more painful, the whole focus of the justice system has become deliberately distracted with the failed "broken windows" theory of law enforcement by such discriminatory police commissioners, such as New York City's William Bratton. But who makes these decisions ? It's one thing for Mr. Taibbi to point out that this paradox exists. But where is the community pressure to appropriate political blame for these misplaced priorities ? Who defunds the Justice Department and the state Attorney General's office ? Who disbands the Moreland Commission ? Who appoints irresponsible police commissioners to lead the troubled NYPD ? Which legislative bodies consent to all this ?
What's plainly missing is rolling up political responsibility for these failures to politicians. People have to fully engage/challenge the corrupt political system in order to reform these failures. There is no other way, and, like our hero Sheriff Preet is demonstrating, there is no short cut.