Barrett didn’t see Cuomo meddle with probe
“No comment,” was the response two local district attorneys gave when asked about details of the anti-corruption commission they served on, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo created and disbanded and is now being accused of meddling with.
Another North Country member of 25-member Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, Patrick Barrett of Lake Placid, told the Associated Press he saw no indication that Cuomo tried to meddle with the commission’s work.
Barrett also said he was not contacted by anyone on behalf of Cuomo to speak out that Cuomo had not interfered. Several other commissioners issued statements Monday backing up Cuomo’s claim, made that day, that he had not interfered. U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, whose office has picked up the commission’s work, stated this week that he has reason to believe Cuomo’s office asked those commissioners to corroborate the governor’s account.
Barrett co-owns the Whiteface Club and Resort and chairs the state Olympic Regional Development Authority.
Franklin County District Attorney Derek Champagne and Essex County District Attorney Kristy Sprague also served on the so-called “Moreland commission.” Its main goals, when Cuomo established it last summer, were to investigate, prosecute and make recommendations to prevent corruption after a string of scandals involving members of the state Assembly and Senate, but Cuomo shut it down in April before much of that could happen. After that, Bharara took the commission’s files and continues to investigate the the matter, including the governor’s involvement.
Champagne told the Enterprise he is not commenting to any of the news reporters who have contacted him, and there have been a lot.
“Dozens of media have contacted me for comment,” Champagne said. On Thursday the Wall Street Journal, Associated Press and the Enterprise attempted to discuss the Moreland commission with Champagne.
“In light of the federal subpoena for our investigative files, emails and other related documents I regretfully have no comment regarding the Moreland Commission at this time,” Champagne wrote in a statement. “This is out of respect for a fellow prosecutors investigation. At such time as his investigation is concluded, I will be happy to meet and answer any and all inquiries regarding my work as a commissioner and any related topics.”
Champagne said some commission members have made “limited public comment,” but he won’t do so until after Bharara’s investigation is done. One of Champagne’s reasons is that he is running for a family court judge position that the state recently created.
“I believe my candidacy for a Judicial position makes commenting in even a limited way during the U.S. Attorney’s investigation inappropriate,” Champagne wrote.
Sprague also declined to comment. She, too, said she hopes to discuss the matter after Bharara’s investigation has concluded.
“I truly understand the obligation to report information involving the Moreland Commission, however, in light of the active and ongoing investigation being conducted by the United States Attorney’s Office I will not be offering any comments regarding this matter,” Sprague wrote the Enterprise in an email. “Along the lines of DA Champagne’s response, I hope to speak with you at a later time to discuss this matter once the investigation is concluded.”