Panel seeks advisers

Albany

The special commission charged with rooting out official corruption is in the process of hiring consulting firms to help it crunch reams of financial and other data, the Times Union has learned.

The Moreland Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, which has no formal budget appropriation, is negotiating the contracts through the state Division of the Budget, sources familiar with the process said.

The documents have not been finalized, and it’s unclear how much money is involved, whether the Budget Division will piggyback on existing contracts or pick a new vendor.

“We currently have no signed contracts and we’ve put out no requests for proposals,” said Budget Division spokesman Morris Peters.

The contracting effort is the latest indication of the scope of the commission’s activities, and it’s given fuel to skeptics. Republicans in the Senate have expressed concern that the 25-member commission will lead to a witchhunt that discredits legislators but leaves Gov. Andrew Cuomo, its convener, unscathed.

“We believe taxpayers should have a full accounting of the costs associated with the creation and operation of the Moreland Commission,” said Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Republican Leader Dean Skelos, R-Long Island.

The commission’s dedicated staff include an executive director, Regina Calcaterra, who is paid $175,000. Two assistant attorneys general are also working on its activities, and a dedicated spokesperson was detailed from the Division of Criminal Justice Services. At least five employees are bringing in six-figure salaries.

Commission spokeswoman Michelle Duffy said the commission “is, and will continue to be, funded by existing resources in the currently adopted budget.”

“It is important that the commission have the resources needed to fulfill its mandate to root out public corruption and make recommendations for systemic change,” she said. “Commission staff were hired on pre-existing, vacant, positions in the Executive Chamber, or are on loan from the Chamber, the Attorney …read more

Source: Albany Times Union – State Capitol

    

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