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U.S. Attorney Takes Issue with Cuomo's Handling of Moreland Commission

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Governor Andrew Cuomo received a rare public rebuke Thursday from U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara over the demise of a commission he set up to investigate public corruption. NY1's Zack Fink filed the following report.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says Governor Andrew Cuomo's decision to decommission the anti-corruption panel that he created is a big mistake.

"The plain facts are that it was disbanded before its time," Bharara said. "Nine months may be the proper and natural gestational period for a child, but in our experience, it is not the amount of time necessary for a public corruption prosecution to mature."

Last year, the governor was frustrated that the legislature failed to enact his ethics reform package. In response, the governor created what's known as the Moreland Commission to investigate corruption within the legislature.

However, last month, the legislature passed the ethics bill as part of the state budget, and Cuomo made the decision to disband his commission, something he defended Thursday at an event in Rochester.

"It was a temporary commission. I was not creating a perpetual bureaucracy," he said.

After it was created, the commission wasn't well-received by lawmakers, who fought subpoenas and refused to turn over documents about their outside income. The commission was also criticized for taking direction from the governor's office when it was supposed to be independent.

Bharara will be taking possession of the Moreland Commission files and continuing the investigations.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino also criticized the breakup of the commission, arguing that it should have targeted the Assembly speaker.

"From the start, Moreland made it clear it would not investigate powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for covering up sex abuse in Albany," Astorino said.

The commission's work was supposed to continue through January 1, 2015 and conclude with a report. Bharara's office will pick up where Moreland left off, and the U.S. attorney's office has the power to prosecute, which the Moreland Commission did not.

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