The tension between Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Senate’s power-sharing coalition appears to be on the rise, as a bill sponsored by two majority senators drew a stern rebuke from the state Democratic Committee on Wednesday.
A bill sponsored by Staten Island Sens. Andrew Lanza, a Republican, and Diane Savino, a member of the Independent Democratic Conference, drew the ire of the state Democrats’ executive director, who issued a statement accusing Lanza of having something to hide and urging Savino to switch parties.
Lanza and Savino’s bill would require any commission created under the state Moreland Act operate independently of the governor. Cuomo in July used the Moreland Act to create a panel to investigate corruption in state government, and the commission has focused its sights squarely on the Legislature.
Cuomo serves as the de facto head of the Democratic Party, and he appointed Rodney Capel, the executive director.
“In the time it took for Senator Andrew Lanza to draft a press release, he could have taken the simple step of disclosing his source of outside income to the people of Staten Island,” Capel said in the statement. “What exactly is he hiding, and why is he deploying every distraction tactic available to do it? Don’t his constituents have a right to know who he works for?”
Capel save his most fiery rhetoric for Savino.
“And to his co-sponsor Diane Savino—who has acted as a shield for Republicans working to block votes on public campaign financing and women’s equality—I have two words: register Republican,” he said.
The memo attached to Savino and Lanza’s bill leaves little doubt it was aimed at Cuomo. The bill was introduced a few days after Cuomo referred to the IDC as “co-conspirators to the Republicans” and gave the Democratic Party credit for several legislative accomplishments, including the 2 percent property-tax cap.
“The conduct of (Cuomo’s Moreland) Commission and the possible involvement of the executive branch in the decisions of the Commission has raised concerns about the accountability and effectiveness of this Commission’s objective,” the memo reads. “Potential or actual conflicts of interest divert from the true mission of any Moreland Commission.”
UPDATE: Savino responded to Capel with a statement of her own, calling it “extremely disappointing to see a member of my own party respond to calls for greater transparency in government with such vitriol and hostility.”
“Maybe if Mr. Capel and his allies were less worried about protecting their housekeeping accounts—and were more focused on lining up every (Democratic) vote in the senate—we could finally move forward on some of these other more polarizing issues,” Savino said in her statement. “Until then, he can spare me the bull or find himself another six-figure no show job.”
Also this week, the state Senate Republican Campaign Committee challenged a subpoena it received from the Moreland Commission seeking information about the 2012 campaign cycle. Subsequently, the co-chairs of the commission reiterated their belief that they have the ability to compel the campaign committee to act.
Here’s Savino and Lanza’s bill: