US Attorney supbeonas documents from state ethics panel

May 1, 2014

Published reports in the New York Post and New York Daily News say U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has subpoenaed records from a state ethics panel created by Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state legislature.

The reports say the U.S. attorney for New York’s southern district has subpoenaed records for all of the cases that the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, or JCOPE, has investigated since it was created by Cuomo and lawmakers three years ago.

The probes include a look into the sexual harassment charges against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez and involvement by aides to Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The Daily News reports that Bharara is also looking at whether any of the probes were squelched by any of the JCOPE members.

Under its own rules, JCOPE is not allowed to talk about investigations. A spokesman said in a statement that the commission “routinely works with other law enforcement agencies on various cases, but it will not confirm or comment on any specific investigative matter.”

The news comes after Bharara criticized Cuomo, saying the governor bargained away another ethics panel that was actively probing the legislature as part of a budget deal. Cuomo has said he agreed to end his Moreland Act Commission in a fair exchange for a new ethics law. Bharara has also demanded all of the Moreland Commission’s data on its investigations as well.