STATEN ISLAND D.A. DONOVAN ORDERED TO PROBE SECRET LOPEZ SETTLEMENT
The plot is definitely thickening now.
Lopez, Silver, Schneiderman and DiNapoli were probably feeling pretty good yesterday.
As the NY Times and many others have reported, Staten Island DA (and recent unsuccessful candidate for Attorney General) Dan Donovan was appointed as Special Prosecutor to investigate the sexual harassment allegations against Lopez and other possible wrongdoing by those who approved the secret settlement deal with some of Lopez’s accusers. Donovan’s appointment was necessitated by the fact that Brooklyn DA Charles Hynes had to recuse himself due to his close political ties to Lopez.
Then, on September 6, the New York Post reported that Donovan intended to “limit his probe of the powerful Brooklyn Democratic leader to alleged sexual harassment of young female Assembly aides,” claiming that his Office “doesn’t have ‘the resources to do a full-scale forensic investigation of all the other players” with potential involvement in the Lopez scandal.'”
“All the other players” include Silver, whose office drafted and approved the secret, taxpayer-funded $100k settlement, as well as AG Schneiderman and Comptroller DiNapoli, who both vetted and approved the deal.
Now comes word that Administrative Judge Fern A. Fisher, who appointed Donovan as Special Prosecutor, has ordered him to investigate whether the settlement agreement violated any laws.
Here is Judge Fisher’s Order.
So, Donovan has been given free rein to track any possible illegal activity with respect to the settlement agreement.
Donovan is a law and order Republican unlikely to hold back against Silver, Schneiderman or DiNapoli — three of New York’s top state-wide Democratic office-holders.
CUOMO DEMANDS JCOPE PROBE
Meanwhile, the WSJ and others are reporting that the fourth and highest Dem — Cuomo — has demanded that JCOPE investigate the whole stinking mess as well, notwithstanding the deep divisions and stalemate within JCOPE’s commissioners, many of whom are loyal to Silver, John Sampson and Cuomo. As it’s constructed, each of these blocks essentially wields a veto power over opening an investigation.
Cuomo is threatening to use his power under the Moreland Act to appoint a separate commission to investigate if JCOPE won’t. That’s basically the nuclear option. “The Moreland Act, now Section 6 of the Executive Law (formerly Section 7, 1907-1909, and Section 8, 1909-1951), authorizes the governor, “either in person or by one or more persons appointed by him for the purpose, to examine and investigate the management and affairs of any department, board, bureau or commission of the state.” Investigators were empowered to subpoena witnesses, administer oaths, hold hearings, and subpoena “any books or papers deemed relevant or material.” Moreland Act commissions derive their power from that act and from Executive Law Section 63.8.” Here’s more background on the Moreland Act Commission.
Why is Cuomo apparently so eager to investigate Lopez, Silver, Schneiderman, and DiNapoli. Just because they’re fellow “Democrats” in name, doen’t mean Cuomo likes them.
Make no mistake, Cuomo is no friend to any of these guys by anything more than pure political necessity. And, to the extent that Cuomo still has higher political ambitions, merely being associated with them only tarnishes his national image. He now has a golden opportunity to depose or seriously weaken three or four of his chief political rivals within the NY Democratic Party.