Andrew Cuomo has an ambitious agenda ahead of him. He wants to change the culture of Albany, get the state’s finances in order, restore New York to its former greatness, reform pensions and benefits, talk sense to pork-hungry state legislators and, who knows, perhaps position himself for greater things to come.
That’s a pretty impressive to-do list. But the energetic Mr. Cuomo apparently is unfazed by the burdens of governing. He has proposed an expansion of his office’s investigative powers, which would allow him to preside over investigations of the financial and insurance industries–just like the good old days, when he was state attorney general.
This is a classic case of mission creep. Mr. Cuomo should back away, gracefully, and refocus his energies on the tasks at hand. He does not lack for challenges. Expanding his mission to include investigations of hedge funds or banks inevitably would sap time and energy from governance, which, of course, is the job he was elected to do.
Besides, the state already has a public official designated to handle investigations. That would be the attorney general, a post held by a capable fellow named Eric Schneiderman, who was Mr. Cuomo’s running mate last year. Mr. Schneiderman, as the governor surely knows, is hardly a patsy for Wall Street, the banks and the insurance industry. If there is malfeasance afoot, we’re confident that Mr. Schneiderman can handle it.
As governor, Mr. Cuomo has to put aside the tools and the instincts of a prosecutor. That elementary lesson was never learned by the last state attorney general to become governor, Eliot Spitzer. Mr. Spitzer, you may recall, left Albany rather abruptly, leaving behind approximately zero friends and about as many achievements.
Mr. Cuomo has to deal with the financial services sector and the insurance industry, both of which are vital components of the state economy. If the leaders of these industries become wary of cooperating with the governor’s office, the state’s recovery will grind to a halt.
Leave the investigating to the attorney general, Mr. Cuomo. You’re the governor now.