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Parsing (and Responding to) Preet

October 22, 2014

On a possible connection between Wall Street criminals and official corruption: “I have joked … that Albany is at the intersection of ambition and greed.”

It’s really not a joke. And since it isn’t, why are you making such comments?

On the cause of the problem: “Unfettered outside income (of lawmakers) … is a little bit of a corruption disaster…”

Spot on. Lawmakers saw other lawmakers getting rich in office. Bruno was incredibly jealous of Silver’s “success” and that jealousy led him to use Senate staff on his private business deals. Other lawmakers came up with their own angles to pursue. There were no rules, and nobody, until now, was looking into it.

On who should fight corruption: “It’s a job for everybody…”

Probably so, although there are some awkward elements to it. Moreland was an executive panel looking at the legislature. That raised constitutional issues. In addition, federal authorities face restrictions as they look into state misconduct. The only agency that, theoretically, is unfettered is JCOPE. But they’ve pretty much disappeared.

On a timetable for completing his work: “I can’t give a timetable, even though some people might like me to….”

The first half of this response is correct. There ought to be ongoing review of lawmakers’ conduct. But the second half, like the “I have joked” comment above, is smart-alecky and unbecoming of a US Attorney. Is it unreasonable for Cuomo to want to be cleared as soon as possible?

On what voters should think of his ongoing investigation: “I don’t presume to tell the voters what they should or should not think.”

OK, but why are you conducting the interview in this venue at this particular moment?  Do you not understand the degree to which you are inserting yourself into the political sphere? It can’t be a coincidence. You mean to influence the debate tonight. You want corruption to be part of the dialogue. We agreed that it should be, but we’re weirded out by you being the catalyst for it.

On Albany’s efforts to combat corruption: “Longevity … and independence … is the only way an investigative body is going to get to the root of the problem …”

Right on, and it’s a public service to say so. But it begs the question: Since the US Attorney can’t really, over the long term, be the Capitol police, who is going to fill that role?

On his next job: “I’m not thinking about that.”

Despite some qualms about your methods and some of your comments, we believe you on this point. We think that you are well-intentioned and that you, on balance, may be having a positive effect.

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