A commission to investigate public corruption that has been appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo includes several notable people including Franklin County District Attorney Derek P. Champagne.
The commission will “probe systemic public corruption and the appearance of such corruption in state government, political campaigns and elections in New York State,” according to a statement from the governor’s office.
The appointments include people such as Police Commissioner of the City of New York Raymond W. Kelly, Superintendent of the New York State Police Joseph A. D'Amico, business people, law school faculty, and several more district attorneys from around the state.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced he will appoint the members of the commission as Deputy Attorneys General, giving the commission broad-based authority to investigate all matters that “involve public peace, public safety, and public justice.” The commission will also have the power to subpoena and examine witnesses under oath as well as subpoena records.
The formation of the commission follows 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,” the announcement said.
Attempts to get an investigation going through the Legislature proved unfruitful.
“We must root out corruption in politics and government,” Cuomo said. “This session, I put forward the most comprehensive and aggressive legislative package Albany has seen in decades to address the corrosive influence of money in elections, strengthen prosecutors’ ability to fight corruption, increase penalties against those who violate the public trust, and give voters more access to the ballot box. From the beginning, I said I would not accept a watered-down approach to cleaning up Albany and that the Legislature must either pass this legislative package or I would empanel an investigative commission tasked with accomplishing these same goals to achieve reform. Since the Legislature has failed to act, today I am formally empanelling a Commission to Investigate Public Corruption pursuant to the Moreland Act and Section 63(8) of the Executive Law that will convene the best minds in law enforcement and public policy from across New York to address weaknesses in the State’s public corruption, election and campaign finance laws, generate transparency and accountability, and restore the public trust.”
“New Yorkers want real reform, and expect and deserve the officials they put in office to be working to serve the public interest, not their own,” said Schneiderman. “This commission will be able to conduct a top to bottom investigation of New York State’s government, and move us forward to repair our broken political process, strengthen our representative democracy and give New Yorkers the quality of leadership they deserve.”