Governor Andrew Cuomo appeared in Buffalo for a public event Monday morning, his first since a bombshell New York Times story last week detailed his alleged interference in an anti-corruption investigation.
Those in attendance at the University at Buffalo South Campus saw a defiant governor, calling his anti-corruption Moreland Commission a huge success.
"Moreland Commission was a phenomenal success, it generated all sorts of interest in the behavior of the legislature," Cuomo said.
The governor has been out of public view since the Times story broke.
Cuomo's office at 11 p.m. Sunday announced that he would be in Buffalo Monday morning, making it very difficult for the reporters who cover him in Albany and New York City to get there.
The Times story detailed instances in which Governor Cuomo's top aide, Larry Schwartz, ordered that subpoenas issued by his anti-corruption Moreland Commission be called back.
The commission was created by Governor Cuomo to investigate public corruption, and the implication is that instead of allowing that commission to do its work, the Cuomo administration stymied its investigation when commissioners began to look at Cuomo's donors and supporters.
The Moreland Commission was abruptly disbanded this past March after the legislature passed some of the reforms the governor had been pressuring them to pass.
Cuomo took the unusual step of deputizing Moreland's commissioners, which enabled them to issue subpoenas.At first, the governor called the panel independent, then changed his tune to say it always answered to him.
"By definition the commission took advice and opinion from many, many people. They had hearings. They were talking to the Senate, they were talking to the Assembly, they were talking to the executive chamber," Cuomo added.
The commission's work is now the subject of an investigation by the U.S. Attorney's office.
Sources tell NY1 News that investigation is focusing not only on what the commission may have uncovered before being shut down, but also if members of the Cuomo administration obstructed their work.
After staying on the sidelines through much of the campaign, Cuomo's Lieutenant Governor candidate, Kathy Hochul, spoke out about Moreland Monday.
"It was created by the governor, so any thought that involvement with the governor's office or conversations is improper, it's really hard to fathom where that comes from to be honest with you," Hochul said.
Republican candidate for Governor Rob Astorino released a new video about the controversy.
"Burned again. New York voters trusted Andrew Cuomo to clean up Albany. Now he is at the center of the biggest corruption scandal in years," Astorino says in the ad.
In a statement released Monday morning, one of the co-chairs of the Moreland Commission, William Fitzpatrick, defended their actions saying, "If I or my co-chairs or any other commissioner had been told or ordered not to pursue a sensitive topic, I can state with a high degree of certainty that we all would have resigned. That never happened."