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October 4, 2013 George Stiefel Executive Chamber Records Access Officer State Capitol Albany, NY 12224 RE: FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAW REQUEST George Stiefel: In accordance with the New York Freedom of Information Law, N.Y. Pub. Off. Law sec. 84 et seq., I request copies of all physical and or electronic correspondence, memoranda, scheduled meetings and records of phone calls between the staff of Governor Andrew Cuomo and members and staff of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption related to and the Real Estate Board of New York. Published reports indicate that the Cuomo Administration has taken control of the supposedly independent commission after it began investigating developers which benefited from a tax cut bill he signed into law and subsequently made large donations to his re-election campaign. It was reported that Cuomo even had the commission quash a subpoena that was drafted and approved by the commission co-chairmen to the Real Estate Board of New York. 1 Multiple sources complain that Cuomo and his top aides, unhappy with the panel’s direction, have interfered in recent weeks, even at times overruling the co-chairmen. The changes began after the commission subpoenaed five developers who received lucrative tax breaks in a housing bill, the sources said. The News reported that two of the developers had donated heavily to Cuomo. Since then, Team Cuomo is said to have had final say over some subpoenas and other actions by the panel. One subpoena seeking lobbying and campaign donation information from the Cuomofriendly Real Estate Board of New York had been drafted by the commission and approved by its three co-chairmen. But at the insistence of Cuomo aides, it was never sent, several sources said.
“Gov. Cuomo Leans On ‘Independent’ Corruption Panel,” The Daily News, 10/3/13
I also request copies of all physical and or electronic correspondence, memoranda, scheduled meetings and records of phone calls between the staff of Governor Andrew Cuomo and members and staff of the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption related to subpoenas for the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee housekeeping account, the state Independence Party in reference to its housekeeping account, and the state Democratic Party housekeeping account, which had been drafted but never issued. Published reports indicate that the Commission has subpoenaed both rival parties to Cuomo’s Democratic Party: New York's anti-corruption commission has issued subpoenas demanding information from Republicans, but the panel established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo has not apparently made such demands of Cuomo's fellow Democrats in a recent flurry of subpoenas aimed at political organizations, according to an official familiar with the case. The official told The Associated Press on Thursday that the Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption issued subpoenas to the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee and the state Independence Party seeking information on housekeeping accounts, which have few limitations on donations they accept or how they spend the cash. 2 However, the Commission “killed a subpoena to the Cuomo-controlled state Democratic party”: Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission killed a subpoena to the Cuomo-controlled state Democratic party, the Daily News has learned. The subpoena was to seek information on the party’s spending from its “housekeeping” account, sources said. The account raised millions this year that was then used to fund ads promoting Cuomo’s agenda during the legislative session. The subpoena was never sent. 3 These reports indicate Governor Cuomo and his top aides have intervened in the affairs of an independent board to protect his political donors and advance the interests of his party, while launching partisan investigations against his opponents. This would be a gross violation of the public trust. Please inform me of the total cost of this request, which I will agree to pay after knowing the total amount. While exemptions to the Freedom Of Information Law are discretionary, I ask you not to withhold such records, even if they might qualify for withholding under the law. If you withhold any records as exempt, please redact the exempted portions and release the remainder of the records. In any case where you withhold any records, please explain in writing any such denial. This information is not being sought for commercial purposes. The New York Freedom of Information Law requires a response time of five business days. If access to the records I am requesting will take longer than this amount of time, please contact me with information about when I might expect copies or the ability to inspect the requested records. If you deny any or all of this request, please cite each specific exemption you feel justifies the refusal to release the information and notify me of the appeal procedures available to me under the law.
Michael Gormley, “NY Republicans Receive Subpoenas,” Associated Press, 10/3/13 Ken Lovett, “Gov. Cuomo's Anti-Corruption Commission Kills Subpoena To NYS Democratic Party,” The Daily News, 10/3/13
Thank you for considering my request.
Tim Miller Executive Director America Rising PAC