Great reporting from Propublica!
Howard Glaser, a lobbyist and longtime confidant to Andrew Cuomo, previously denied he was involved in the then-attorney general’s investigations. Newly obtained emails show otherwise.
The Albany Times Union co-published a version of this story.
Previously undisclosed emails by a mortgage industry lobbyist doubling as a consultant for then Attorney General Andrew Cuomo show the lobbyist played a self-described “critical role” in one of Cuomo’s signature financial crisis investigations.
The emails from 2007 and 2008 detail how the lobbyist, longtime Cuomo confidantHoward Glaser, was involved in an investigation of mortgage industry players that included Glaser’s own clients.
In one email, Glaser touted his influence over a Cuomo deal that weakened rules to prevent misdeeds in the mortgage market. That deal, with mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, reflected Glaser’s “significant, critical, and current input,” he wrote in an email, “a fact to which current [Fannie and Freddie] employees and the NYAG’s office are prepared to attest.” Fannie and Freddie were both Glaser’s clients.
The emails contradict Glaser’s previous account of his involvement in Cuomo’s investigations.
ProPublica and the Albany Times Union reported last year that Glaser was working simultaneously as a consultant for the attorney general’s office and for a bevy of mortgage industry firms. Glaser said at the time that he only gave general advice to Cuomo’s office, that he did not represent clients with the attorney general, and that he was “not involved” in specific mortgage industry cases.
According to the emails, however, Glaser was involved in mortgage industry cases and traveled to Cuomo’s office repeatedly over the course of nearly two years while investigations related to Glaser’s clients unfolded.
“Oy. I Spent the last 48 hrs at the NY AG’s office and am glad to give you an off the record briefing and my observations,” Glaser wrote in a Nov. 7, 2007, email to the federal regulator of Fannie and Freddie. That same day, Cuomo announced subpoenas of the two mortgage giants as part of an investigation into fraudulently inflated home appraisals.
“These emails on their face indicate a serious conflict of interest, a conflict that could very well have influenced enforcement actions by Cuomo, much to the benefit of Glaser’s clients,” said Craig Holman of the government watchdog group Public Citizen.
The new emails also show how Glaser briefed industry players about Cuomo’s investigation while Glaser was involved in it.