By Bob McManus – February 26, 2015
Gov. Cuomo is conducting an early spring cleaning of Albany’s e-mails — all of them, right down to cyber bedrock.
But is this a big deal? If you can’t trust Uncle Andrew, who can you trust?
Never mind that US Attorney Preet Bharara — fresh from taking down Sheldon Silver — seems to be breathing right down the gubernatorial neck. “Stay tuned,” the prosecutor warned — with both eyes fixed firmly on Andrew.
Never mind that Cuomo’s former chief of staff, Larry Schwartz, who left as the noose was tightening around Silver’s neck, now can’t find a job — reportedly because of Bharara’s continuing probe.
Never mind that state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman just opened an inquiry into Cuomo’s casino-siting commission.
And never mind that an administration that has cut as many ethical corners as this one — especially regarding campaign-finance regulations and related transgressions — long ago forfeited all presumption to the public’s trust.
What’s important is that Cuomo’s cyber scrubbers soon will have vaporized all e-mail generated by state government that’s more than three months old — eradicating evidence of, well, who knows what.
New Yorkers will never know.
Those who trusted Andrew Cuomo no longer have reason to. Those who didn’t have had their worst suspicions confirmed.
“We must use technology to bring more sunlight to the operation of government,” said Cuomo in 2010.
Two years later, the winds were shifting: “You can always have more transparency.” But “you can’t live your life in a goldfish bowl.”
Now he says, essentially, all that ancient history is just clogging up government and nobody ever looks at it anyway. Which is sort of true — a critical exception being prosecutors tracking down prey.
Does Cuomo have any such concerns? Should he? A reasonable person might ask whether incriminating (or, at least, embarrassing) e-mails relating the administration’s policies, practices and politics are disappearing into the void.
•What is it about the casino-siting procedure that has excited Schneiderman’s interest? He’s as political as Cuomo, to be sure, but this is now a matter of personal
•Why did Cuomo really decide so abruptly to terminate his self-initiated Moreland Act commission probe of ethical misfeasance? Is there an e-mail trail, as of yet unbeknownst to Bharara, that embarrasses the executive chamber? (Lookin’ at you, Larry Schwartz!)
•Were there e-mail exchanges between the governor’s office and Bobby Kennedy Jr., a former Cuomo brother-in-law and eco-freak opponent of fracking?
•How about evidence of extreme-green money influencing fracking policy or politics?
•In that same vein, is there e-mail evidence demonstrating collaboration between campaign contributors and state economic-development officials — the fellows and gals who shovel out hundreds of millions in grants every year?
•Also related, might something be learned about the $1 million-plus showered on the 2014 Cuomo campaign by real-estate mega-man Leonard Litwin — the 1 percenter who is such a prominent presence in Bharara’s case against Silver?
•Is there an honest estimate of the cost of the new Tappan Zee Bridge tucked away in somebody’s server? Probably.
•And what about this: Why does Cuomo so enjoy chewing on Mayor de Blasio’s leg? Betcha there’s an e-mail thread or two or three that speaks it (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course).
Let’s be clear: All of this is speculation, to be sure. But none of it is baseless. And the list could go on and on and on.
Cuomo dearly loves to dish out grief, but he has no stomach for it when it’s headed in his direction.
This time he’s earned it, in spades, and thus this conclusion is inescapable: Andrew Cuomo has a block of granite for a brain — or he’s hiding something.
Not to coin a phrase, stay tuned.