Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s new Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption has scheduled its first round of public hearings, the closest of which will be held at Pace University in New York City.
The governor established the 25-member panel July 2, after he and lawmakers were unable to forge an agreement during the legislative session on a package of bills to crack down on government corruption. He created it by executive order under the state’s Moreland Act to “probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York State.”
This is the hearing schedule so far:
— 6 p.m. Sept. 17, Pace University, Multipurpose Room, 1 Pace Plaza, Manhattan. Doors open at 5 p.m.
— 6 p.m. Sept. 18, Sen. Walter J. Mahoney State Office Building, Hearing Room 4, 65 Court St., Buffalo. Doors open at 5 p.m.
— 6 p.m. Sept. 24, The Crossings of Colonie, Meeting Room, 580 Albany Shaker Road, Loudonville. Doors open at 5 p.m.
The hearings will focus on the electoral process; campaign-finance laws; and the adequacy of existing state laws, regulations and procedures involving ethical and unlawful misconduct by public officials. The panel’s preliminary report is due by Dec. 1, 2013.
Members of the public, as well as public officials, public-policy experts, advocacy organizations and others are invited to testify or attend the hearings. Individuals who can’t present testimony in person can submit it before or after the hearings at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Cuomo said in a statement earlier this month that he was forced to take action and create the commission after “several recent proven and alleged incidents of corruption and misconduct by public officials that have shown that current laws are inadequate and reforms are necessary to guard against abuses, ensure accountability in government, address the need for reform in our campaign finance laws and restore the public’s confidence and trust in state government and state elections.”Four state lawmakers were either arrested or charged with new corruption-related charges in recent months.
The commission includes former U.S. attorneys, district attorneys and policy experts in elections, including Rockland District Attorney Thomas Zugibe. Members will be appointed as deputy attorneys general, meaning they will have broad authority to probe all matters that “involve public peace, public safety and public justice.” They will be able to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath and subpoena any necessary records.