The New York State Capitol Building
The New York State Legislature has sued an anti-corruption commission to deny subpoenas that were issued earlier this year. The commission was formed under the 1907 Moreland Act which gives the governor vast investigative authority, after Andrew Cuomo was unable to find agreement with the legislature over his proposed anti-corruption laws.
The commission filed the probes in question when the legislature refused to release information on lawmakers earning more than $20,000.
The legislature, comprising the State Senate and Assembly, alleges that the probes are superfluous and were only filed in attempt to harass lawmakers unwilling to comply with the request for information. They also allege that the probes were illegal because they were “issued to further the governor’s efforts to coerce the passage of certain legislation.” The suit was filed on Nov. 22.
While Republican Senator Dean Skelos pointed out in a statement last week that the legislators of New York have a solid history working together, “However, we won’t allow an executive to ignore the Constitution or the important principle of separation of powers.”
“Not only are these subpoenas abusive in their scope, the subpoenas target the legislators’ private business relationships and finances by seeking information from private parties that New York law does not permit the governor or his commission to obtain from the lawmakers themselves,” the legislature said in a court filing.
The lawmakers’ suit hopes to void the subpoenas, but the defendants claim that the commission, having been deputized by Attorney General Eric Schniederman, gives them addition powers that allow them to investigate any matter they deem fit.
“When it issues a subpoena, it issues a subpoena as the Moreland Commission and the attorney general…If your position is that the attorney general can’t subpoena the legislature — that would neuter the attorney general’s office,” Cuomo said on a conference call, reports Bloomberg.
For more on anti-corruption laws, check out the following InsideCounsel coverage: