SEPTEMBER 10, 2014
Andrew Cuomo took a serious hit yesterday in the New York gubernatorial primary, when an unknown novice with the whimsical name Zephyr Teachout walked off with about 35% of Democratic primary voters. Cuomo prevailed, with 60% of the vote, but the damage was done and the reason is anything but whimsical: in a word, corruption.
In March, Cuomo abruptly disbanded his own Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, known in New York as a Moreland Commission. The commission was launched only eight months earlier to much fanfare from the governor about cleaning up Albany. Teachout, a left-wing activist and law professor with a shoe-string campaign, hit a nerve in July after a bombshell New York Times report detailed Cuomo’s interference with the commission.
Saying Cuomo should “immediately resign” if he knew of efforts to obstruct the commission’s work, Teachout began to climb in the polls. Despite a strong left-wing platform, Teachout won support from influential New York conservatives, including the state’s Conservative Party chairman, Mike Long. Long called on “conservative Democrats” to “send Albany a message” about corruption.
Writing from the Left in the Daily Kos, a former counsel to the Moreland Commission, Janos Marton, echoed Long. In Albany, Marton wrote, he found “hotbeds of scandal, apathy and mediocrity.” He added, “The opportunity that has been lost by the Commission’s neutering, then disbandment, is more significant than most people realize, and the level of the governor’s interference more pervasive than press accounts suggest.”
Among those apparently outraged by Cuomo’s naked power politics is the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, who seized the commission’s files and is investigating. The press senses blood (Cuomo’s) in the water. And New York liberals and conservatives have found something they can agree on. So Ms. Teachout, a spirited thorn in the governor’s side, may be gone for the moment, but more Moreland trouble lies ahead.