Several months ago the Franklin County District Attorney, Derek Champagne, issued a press release announcing that his office was working with State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo to ensure that municipal officers were not violating state law regarding conflicts of interest. Mr. Champagne had been deluged with complaints from Franklin County [N.Y.] residents, pointing out that it is not uncommon for town board members to hold contracts with the wind developers even as these very board members were drafting a wind law for their communities. (See Burke bought and paid for? and Where the buck stops.)
I am writing to give you an update. Mr. Champagne empanelled a grand jury to begin an investigation. Two of the town board members who had been subpoenaed (both have, or had, contracts with the wind developers) filed lawsuits against Mr. Champagne, effectively, in the eyes of many, admitting their guilt. There is a strong suspicion the wind developers put these two men up to their lawsuit.
It backfired. If they thought this would derail Mr. Champagne, they were wrong. He merely called in the State Attorney General to take over the investigation.
The Attorney General turned up at the Franklin Country Courthouse this past Friday in the person of an Assistant Attorney General and an Investigator. Between them, and members of the District Attorney’s staff, they interrogated a parade of town officers from the towns of Burke, Brandon, Bellmont, and Chateaugay. Some of these people had been issued subpoenas; others were sent polite letters of invitation.
In all, the AG spent from 8am till late Friday afternoon conducting interviews in the DA’s offices. They also interviewed town residents who have compiled documentary evidence against these town board members.
One of the goals of the investigation is to determine whether the developers are breaking the law, whether they have bribed or otherwise illegally influenced public officials, and to expose the wind developers’ relationships with various lawyers in the state who offer their services to municipalities to write pro-wind ordinances.
I believe NYS is the only state in the union where the attorney general has begun investigating the wind developers.
I believe we will be seeing indictments in the next few weeks.
Calvin Luther Martin
May 5, 2008
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