Some lawmakers are pulling back from earlier calls for an investigation into a potential leak by the state's new ethics commission, JCOPE. This, one day after Governor Cuomo admitted that the new agency might need some tweaks. Capital Tonight reporter Nick Reisman has the details
NEW YORK STATE -- An investigation into whether someone from the state's new ethics watchdog leaked a letter that Senator Tom Libous was the possible target of an inquiry isn't needed, Governor Andrew Cuomo said. But the governor said this week he was concerned the Joint Commission on Public Ethics could be used for political purposes.
Cuomo said, “I don't know that there had to be a leak. I know that the law may prescribe a system that is flawed and is problematic.”
Libous, the deputy majority leader, was named in an unrelated corruption trial earlier this year as having used his office to arrange for a job at Westchester County law firm for his son. The allegation was made by a disbarred attorney who is a convicted perjurer. Still, Binghamton Mayor Matt Ryan wrote a formal letter of complaint to JCOPE.
“Mayor Ryan could have told someone. Mayor Ryan could have worked on the letter with someone and that person could have went out and had a press conference or told a reporter. I believe that's wrong. If that's what the law says, the law should be changed in my opinion,” Cuomo said.
Libous did receive a letter earlier this month that officials said was part of the normal process after an allegation is made. But the news unsettled some in Albany, who noted that any complaint can be made in order to generate headlines.
“By the current law, I don't think you would need any leak. The way I read the law it could just, you go out, you send a letter, tell the press and it's just on automatic pilot,” Cuomo said.
Ryan, a Democrat who is not running for another term, at one point considered challenging Libous, a Republican, later this fall. He ultimately decided not to. Republican Majority Leader Dean Skelos, meanwhile, backed off on his earlier call for an investigation, but still believes tweaks to the ethics commission is needed following the incident.
Skelos said, “What we have to do is look at this is a new process that exists within the state, I think, on overdue, but we have to look at ways that we can make it even better and that's what we'll do.”