ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A federal prosecutor has asked members of New York's Legislature to preserve any material relating to Gov. Andrew Cuomo's defunct anti-corruption commission.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, based in Manhattan, has been critical of the Democratic governor's decision to disband the commission after nine months and acquired the commission documents. Bharara has already asked the two-dozen people who served on the commission, many of them county prosecutors, to preserve "all documents that may be under your control relating in any way to the work of the Moreland Commission."
In an email Tuesday from a Senate officer, obtained by The Associated Press, members of both the Senate and Assembly were asked not to destroy any records and documents — including memos, correspondence, voicemails, emails and text messages — related to the disbanded commission.
The email sent to senators by Senate Secretary Francis Patience tells them failure to comply may result in court sanctions and asks that they retain all records relating to the commission's "funding, formation, operation, management and dissolution."
The order "remains in effect until you receive written notice releasing it in writing," Patience wrote in bold, uppercase lettering.
Cuomo formed the commission after the Legislature refused to pass his ethics package following a series of federal corruption cases involving state lawmakers. He disbanded it in March after the Legislature passed new laws to toughen bribery prosecutions and establish a new campaign finance policing office as part of the budget.
In New York City on Tuesday, Cuomo told news reporters, "The commission is disbanded, but it still has work to do. It's in the process of referring cases to other offices and following up on those referrals. So that's an important part of the job — is closing down in the right way."
"We are not commenting on the U.S. Attorney's actions," said Matthew Wing, a spokesman for Cuomo, adding that all state agencies should be fully cooperative.
The New York Times in April reported that some of Cuomo's top aides meddled in the work of the supposedly independent commission, which some commissioners have denied.