Former Moreland Commission advisor says committee disbanded too soon

ALBANY, N.Y. – New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was arrested on Thursday on federal corruption charges, and now a former advisor to the Moreland Commission said the committee could have uncovered Silver’s alleged illegal actions.

Silver has been accused of receiving millions in bribes and kickbacks disguised as referral fees. An investigation revealed that he received more than $6 million in outside income from two law firms since late 2002.

Governor Andrew Cuomo appointed the Moreland Commission in the summer of 2013 to investigate cases of public corruption, but it was demanded nine months later. Legislative Director for the League of Women Voters of New York Barbara Bartoletti served as a special advisor to the committee.

She said the commission was shut down too soon, and it would have uncovered the allegations against Speaker Silver. She said the Moreland Commission’s Policy and Investigative sections were on the right track.

“They were following the information and where it was leading them, and then of course the governor disbanded the Moreland Commission with much controversy,” she said.

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, however, said he has been investigating Silver’s outside income since June 2013. He said his investigation continued where the commission ended.

“It quickly became clear that the mystery of Silver’s outside income needed to become an even greater priority,” he said.

At the time of the commission’s disbandment, Bartoletti said she did not think it was due to information gathered about the Speaker. But now she said hindsight is 20/20.

“The legislature was not happy with how close – and that’s both sides of the aisle – they were not happy with where the Moreland Commission was going,” she said.

Bharara said his office is investigating other public figures for public corruption, but he wouldn’t say if Governor Cuomo was complicit to Silver’s alleged wrongdoings.

“I’m not going to comment on that,” he said. “I think I made myself about the shutting down of the Moreland Commission clear, and that’s all I’ll say.”

Silver pleaded not guilty to all five charges against him. He is scheduled to be back in court February 23.

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