Mayor and DA's Office Tone Down Their Verbal Sparring

Comptroller Asks DA to Clarify Records; Finds No Wrongdoing

By Andrew Siff
|  Wednesday, Mar 24, 2010  |  Updated 5:46 PM EDT
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Mayor and DA's Office Tone Down Their Verbal Sparring

Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau and Mayor Bloomberg

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Four months after then District Attorney Robert Morgenthau used...er...fowl language to describe comments by Mayor Bloomberg, City Hall can't help but crow.

The government squawking stems from an allegation the Mayor made asserting that the Manhattan DA failed to properly account for all of its cash.

Back in December, Morgenthau, who has since retired, called the Mayor's accusation "chicken-**it." The DA maintained the city didn't really have jurisdiction over his office in the first place. And he invited the city Comptroller to look at the books, just to be sure.

Comptroller John Liu's conclusion today? The DA did nothing wrong. But it should have been more above board about the money seized during investigations, and how it was accounted for. 

"There is no good reason for any government entity -- including the District Attorney's Office -- to tread above scrutiny or have accounts that fly under the radar," Liu said.

A spokeswoman for the new DA, Cyrus Vance, said the office will update its computer systems and make sure to be more transparent. But she added, the city's top prosecutor managed an enormous amount of money "without a dime misspent."

In a statement, Mayor Bloomberg sounded less than impressed.  “It is appropriate that today’s audit of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office includes recommendations to establish transparency, tighten fiscal controls, and register all accounts – all of which will help ensure that funds are managed in the best interests of the City and the administration of justice."

Vance's response was polite, and certainly softened the tone taken by his predecessor, but still served to remind Bloomberg that the Mayor is not the boss of the District Attorney.   

"We accept these recommendations," said Vance,  "so long as the procedures do not compromise prosecutorial independence or the confidentiality of investigations."

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