Assembly releases ‘disturbing’ misconduct report on ex-governor Cuomo

Politics

ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee released a report on its investigation into alleged misconduct by former Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday morning. Committee Chair Charles Lavine describes Cuomo’s conduct outlined in the findings as “disturbing.”

In March 2021, Speaker Carl Heastie charged the committee with determining if there was evidence to support a finding that Cuomo engaged in serious and corrupt conduct in office. They were trying to figure out if any such acts might justify filing articles of impeachment.

The scope of the investigation included examining allegations of sexual harassment and other sexual misconduct, the publication of Cuomo’s October 2020 book, information provided by the former governor and his administration about COVID in nursing homes, and potential safety issues surrounding the construction of bridges in New York State.

The report also concluded that as early as March 19, 2020, a Penguin Random House employee
reached out to a literary agent representing Cuomo to see if he was interested in writing a book. By July 1, 2020, Cuomo already had 70,000 words written, according to the literary agent.

“One senior state official explained that book-related assignments were given by superiors and expected to be completed, and the work was not voluntary,” the report reads. A spokesman for Cuomo recently asserted this was volunteer work, and commonplace in the legislature.

The Assembly report also notes that despite publicly pledging cooperation on multiple occasions, Cuomo and his counsel failed to cooperate in any meaningful way with the committee’s investigation, including with respect to the book, or healthcare-related allegations.

“I think, really what happened is that after the governor resigned, any cooperation ended,” Assembly Judiciary Committee member Mary Beth Walsh told reporters after she read the report, “and I think the interviews that had been scheduled through the subpoenas that were issued kind of just ended.”

Walsh also said she wishes the investigation went further on the nursing home issue. It found that the former governor did direct his staff to inappropriately withhold or misrepresent data on the effects of COVID-19 in nursing homes. Walsh said it’s her understanding that the Assembly investigation findings will be turned over to any organizations or entities looking to pursue the issue further.

Members of the committee had the chance to read the report before its public release.

“This has been a profoundly sad chapter in New York’s history. I commend Chairman Charles Lavine, the members of the Judiciary Committee and the team at Davis Polk for their hard work and diligence in completing this investigation,” said Speaker Heastie.

Senate Minority Leader Rob Ortt released a statement following the report’s release, calling the investigation “one of the least transparent political processes in New York History,” calling for the passage of a Senate bill that would extend the power of impeachment and trial of impeachment to former office holders for conduct committed while in office.

Republican members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee released a statement saying law enforcement agencies should use the report findings to take any additional actions that may be necessary:

The report says that, because Cuomo chose to resign and not contest the evidence or confront witnesses, he is not entitled to produce any further evidence from the committee.

Rich Azzopardi, spokesman for former Governor Cuomo, released a statement claiming the Assembly report is “hypocritical” and “revisionist.” He refuted many of the major findings in the report.

“Any report that uses the Attorney General’s politically biased investigation as a basis is going to be equally flawed. To date we have not been allowed the opportunity to review evidence in the Assembly’s possession, despite requests to do so and due process was certainly not afforded here,” Azzopardi wrote.

Stick with NEWS10 for more on this story as it develops, and read the full report below:

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