ALBANY — Even as they investigate the state Board of Elections, nine members of Gov. Cuomo’s anti-corruption commission who are also sitting district attorneys did not pursue about 1,500 criminal referrals from the board since 2006, statistics show.
The bulk of the complaints involved candidates who did not make their required campaign finance filings. The rest were for contributions that exceeded the legal limit.
Most of the referrals went to Albany County District Attorney David Soares, one of 25 people appointed last month by Cuomo to his anti-corruption commission, according to stats compiled by the Board of Elections at the request of the Daily News.
Soares’ office did not prosecute any of the 1,356 referrals from the board since 2007 regarding candidates who did not submit their required filings.
Even though the bulk of complaints involve candidates from outside his jurisdiction, Soares’ office is the landing ground for all such referrals because the info is required to be filed in Albany, elections board spokesman John Conklin said.
Soares also received 26 over-contribution referrals but did not pursue them, either.
Commission co-chairwoman Kathleen Rice, the Nassau County district attorney, received the next most complaints — 72 from the Board of Elections since 2006 about over-contributions. She also didn’t prosecute any.
Cuomo’s Moreland Act commission is set to focus on the influence of campaign contributions on government and compliance with election and lobbying laws.
MARCUS SANTOS FOR THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS/ FOR THE NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice received 72 complaints, but didn’t prosecute any.
Reps for Soares and Rice say the referrals from the Board of Elections weren’t thorough enough to pursue.
“The board’s referrals come years late and include no evidence of intent or even knowledge of the rule by the donor,” said Rice spokesman John Byrne. “These form letters are legally useless to prosecutors and provide yet another example of why the Moreland Commission’s work to examine and propose reform to the Board of Elections is so important.”
Soares spokeswoman Cecilia Logue said the board referrals included minimal information that would have made it time-consuming and costly for the cash-strapped office to launch full-scale investigations.
“We are not an investigative arm of the Board of Elections,” Logue said. “Our office cannot bear the cost of 62 counties for investigating these filings.”
But Conklin responded that “if the referrals were insufficient, we wish they would have told us. They never said, ‘You need to do these things a different way.’ ”
The problem highlights the dysfunction within a system that critics say encourages candidates and donors to skirt the laws.
The Board of Elections currently has zero investigators and just four auditors — and no money in its budget to hire any.
Logue chastised the Legislature for rejecting Cuomo’s call this year to create an independent investigative panel within the Board of Elections.