BUFFALO, N.Y. – Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s newly appointed
investigative body charged with examining the state Board of
Elections and looking at potential wrongdoing by legislators in
campaign fundraising will include as a member University at Buffalo
Law School Dean Makau W. Mutua.
The committee, established by an executive order under New
York’s anti-corruption Moreland Act, will have subpoena power
as it conducts its work. Similar panels in past decades have
resulted in lengthy corruption probes and arrests.
Cuomo issued his order after his proposed legislative reforms
failed to gain traction in the state Legislature, and following the
filing of federal bribery and embezzlement charges against several
“This commission will restore trust by telling the
truth,” the governor said Wednesday at UB Law School in
detailing the commission’s work and Mutua’s
appointment. “If this government has something to hide, this
commission will find it.
“The government is not the enemy, the government is us.
And together we can do great things.”=
The 25-member Commission to Investigate Public Corruption, with
the input of five “special advisers,” will be chaired
by Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice, Syracuse District
Attorney William Fitzpatrick and attorney Milton Williams. It
includes 10 sitting district attorneys and a former U.S.
The panel will investigate the Board of Elections to ensure
compliance with campaign finance laws. It also will probe
weaknesses in state lobbying and ethics laws that open the door to
bribery and other corruption. The commission is required to file a
preliminary report by the end of the year and a final report by the
end of 2014.
In addition to Mutua, the governor named to the panel Frank A.
Sedita III, Erie County district attorney and a 1986 graduate of
the UB Law School.
“You have legendary law enforcement talent on this
commission, and this is a powerful, powerful signal,” Cuomo
said Tuesday in announcing formation of the commission. “It
sends a signal to two audiences. One is the elected officials in
the state of New York. We’re going to raise the bar on public
integrity, public trust. And second, to the people of the state. I
want to say to the people, ‘look, we have the best people
Mutua has been the law school’s permanent dean since May
2008 after serving for an academic year as interim dean. A member
of the law school faculty since 1996, he is a SUNY Distinguished
Professor and since 2006 has served as the Floyd H. and Hilda L.
Hurst Faculty Scholar.
Widely known on the international stage, Mutua has conducted
numerous human rights, diplomatic and rule of law missions to
countries in Africa, Latin America and Europe. He is a vice
president of the American Society of International Law and a member
of the Council on Foreign Relations. From 2002 to 2003, he chaired
the Task Force on the Establishment of a Truth, Justice and
Reconciliation Commission, which recommended a truth commission for
his native Kenya.
Since its founding in 1887, UB Law School—the State
University of New York system’s only law school—has
established an excellent reputation and is widely regarded as a
leader in legal education. Its cutting-edge curriculum provides
both a strong theoretical foundation and the practical tools
graduates need to succeed in a competitive marketplace, wherever
they choose to practice. A special emphasis on interdisciplinary
studies, public service and opportunities for hands-on clinical
education makes UB Law unique among the nation’s premier
public law schools.