A Siena College poll this week shows that most New Yorkers don't know about the Moreland Commission, a panel of district attorneys and law enforcement officials investigating public corruption in Albany.
Onondaga County District Attorney William Fitzpatrick, co-chair of the Moreland Commission, says it doesn't bother him that many New Yorkers are unaware of the group's probes into public corruption. But he expects that'll change December 1, when the Moreland Commission releases it's report.
"We have two prongs," Fitzpatrick said. "Policy. We are going to make some, I think, strong policy recommendations about laws that should be changed. We're going to show some people things that are legal that they will scratch their heads and say you're kidding, that's legal. And then the other prong is the investigative stage, where we will turn over evidence of criminality that we've uncovered to the appropriate authorities which, without hyperbole, will be a real eye-opener for a lot of people."
Fitzpatrick says he's shocked at some of the things he's seen during the last several months of investigations.
"This is a way of life for a lot of people in New York, who are elected and have abused the public trust," Fitzpatrick said. "They consider campaign contributions personal expense accounts."
The commission was created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo earlier this year in the wake of federal indictments and scandals involving state lawmakers. There has been resistance among state lawmakers in cooperating with the commission when it comes to turning over documents and records regarding income. In the future, Fitzpatrick hopes ultimately there will be some sort of permanent group that watches over campaign finance.
"At some point, I think what we are going to be recommending is some type of independent enforcement agency," Fitzpatrick said. "So in that sense, if the legislature goes on with it, the spirit of the Moreland Commission will continue."