New York State Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos (R-Nassau County).
By Jon Campbell
ALBANY Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos on Monday warned Gov. Andrew Cuomo against partaking in a political "witch hunt," calling the Democratic governor's looming probe into the state's campaign-finance system "questionable."
Cuomo has said he will soon assemble a panel of current and former law-enforcement officials to investigate wrongdoing in New York's system of policing political campaigns. The committee would be created under the state Moreland Act, which would grant it broad investigatory powers.
During a radio interview Monday, Skelos, R-Nassau County, said Cuomo's planned investigation shouldn't just focus on the state Legislature, but also on the first-term governor himself.
"If this is just aimed at the Legislature, I think that would be inappropriate," Skelos said on "The Capitol Pressroom," a public-radio program. "Certainly, if the governor runs for office, he's raised close to $30 million in his campaign committee."
Skelos, whose Senate Republican conference shares control of the chamber with a faction of breakaway Democrats, raised the possibility of the Senate forming its own committee to investigate Cuomo's campaign spending.
"We have an elections committee," Skelos said. "We have the opportunity to do the same type of research which the governor is proposing to do."
Cuomo's plan to form a Moreland Act Commission came after he and the Legislature couldn't agree on a slate of anti-corruption measures before the legislative session ended last month. The session was shook by a string of lawmakers arrested on corruption and bribery charges that began in April.
The Moreland Act allows the governor to convene a panel to investigate the executive branch. That includes the state Board of Elections, which has oversight of both statewide officials and legislative races.
Last week, Cuomo said his panel -- which he is expected to unveil in the coming days-would include "the best (district attorneys), the best former U.S. attorneys, the best lawyers -- Democrats and Republicans."