December 20th, 2015


Guest: Investigative Reporter David Sirota

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Read highlights: Sirota on whether Gov. Andrew Cuomo has crossed the line into committing any actual criminal acts:

David Sirota: “My opinion is that Cuomo certainly has a good sense of what the rules are and how to walk right up to the [line]. I certainly think—we talked about the bond deal []—there was a situation [with] Glenwood Management at the center of the Shelly Silver case where [the] firm received a $260 million state loan from Cuomo’s New York Housing Finance Agency, which at the time was headed by a guy named Bill Mulrow, who is now Governor Cuomo’s [Secretary to the Governor]. I bring that up not to say that there was necessarily illegality there, but to say that there are enough questions out there that my guess is that somebody like Preet Bharara is looking at examples like that, potentially with the power of subpoena and discovery. I mean, that’s what reporters don’t have, which is the ability to compel documents, the ability to use subpoena power to compel documents. So my guess is that Preet Bharara is, in fact, looking around.”

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Sirota on Preet Bharara and Albany:

DS: “I do think that the convictions that Bharara has been able to secure have broadened the public’s understanding—and perhaps the legal system’s understanding—of what illegal quid pro quo and illegal corruption is. I think that this idea that something is happening and the dots are all there, but there wasn’t an explicit email that says ‘I’m getting the money in order to do you a favor.’ I think Bharara—some of the contours of the cases he’s brought and the convictions that he’s secured—suggest that a jury doesn’t feel that it necessarily needs that email that says ‘Oh, this money is for this favor,’ that if there is enough evidence that what happened actually happened, that the quid pro quo doesn’t need to be explicit for it nonetheless for it to be unlawful.”

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Sirota on the state of investigative journalism in New York and New Jersey:

DS: “I’m looking at this as something of an outsider. I don’t live in New York, but, frankly, when it comes to both New York and New Jersey, I have been pretty shocked at how little what you would call ‘enterprise reporting’ that there has been in the area of money in politics and corruption. By that I mean [Preet Bharara] is right in the sense that there has been good after-the-fact reporting. There has been decent reporting when a source like the Moreland Commission brings, kind of hands on a silver platter documents to news organizations saying, ‘Here’s exactly what happened.’ But I tend to do what’s called enterprise work, like a number of other reporters, where you’re actually going out and you’re actively investigating something that hasn’t been brought to light yet, that hasn’t been brought there. And look, in Albany there’s plenty—and New Jersey I should add, too—these are places that there’s no shortage of topics and stories to do that are enterprise reporting.”

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