Andrew Cuomo, meet Louis XIV, France’s Sun King. As tradition has it the Bourbon monarch, who ruled from the mid-1600s until 1715, quipped “L’État, c’est moi,” which translates “I am the State.” Fast-forward three centuries, and Cuomo II sounds awfully like the long-dead Louis.
When confronted with pushback over his decision in March to disband an anti-corruption commission—the so-called Moreland Commission—which Cuomo himself appointed in 2013, the governor was defiant. He bellowed to Crain’s: “It’s my commission. My subpoena power, my Moreland Commission. I can appoint it, I can disband it. I appoint you, I can un-appoint you tomorrow...It’s my commission. I can’t ‘interfere’ with it, because it is mine. It is controlled by me.” For history buffs, the commission itself takes its name from a 1907 law that empowers New York’s governors to appoint investigative bodies to root out wrongdoing.
Cuomo may now be learning that executive arrogance comes with a price. Immediately after the governor’s self-aggrandizing pronouncement, Preet Bharara, the federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, expressed his dismay with Cuomo, particularly given the state’s corruption-rich environment. So there’s no doubt, the Empire State is among the most corrupt in America. Between 1976 and 2010, New York led America in federal public corruption convictions with more than 2,500.
The March disbanding of the commission didn’t generate much outrage. But then last week, The New York Times dropped a bombshell story on how Team Cuomo rigged the game, and how this latest Moreland Commission was never about being independent. Rather, it was about beating the legislature into submission.