ALBANY, N.Y. — Eight months after the New York Assembly Judiciary Committee started an impeachment investigation into former Governor Andrew Cuomo, the report is out - and the chairman says it shows Cuomo was "someone who is not fit for office."
That report - put together by the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell, LLP - looked into several issues, including sexual harassment accusations against the governor, his use of government workers to write his memoir, and allegations that he lied about nursing home death totals during the pandemic.
The report found that the governor "engaged in multiple instances of sexual harassment, including by creating a hostile work environment and engaging in sexual misconduct," backing up the report from New York Attorney General Letitia James in August that eventually led to Cuomo's resignation.
It also found that he used state resources, property, and executive staff to write the book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From the Covid-19 Pandemic.” The state's Joint Committee on Public Ethics rescinded its approval for Cuomo's $5.2 million dollar publishing deal last week for that same reason, which could potentially force him to pay that money back.
The report also claims Cuomo was not "fully transparent" about nursing home deaths during COVID, including executive staff "revising" a Health Department report on those deaths released in July 2020.
The report cost New York taxpayers more than $5 million to assemble.
Members of the committee have acknowledged that Cuomo cannot be impeached because of his resignation in August. However, they have also said that the hundreds of interviews and other pieces of evidence that were gathered during the investigation can be shared with criminal prosecutors who may be investigating the governor.
The governor's legal team demanded that the report be released to them before it went public. Cuomo's spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, issued the following response:
"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.
“Once again, the fact that an employee entered and exited the Executive Mansion as part of her job was never in dispute and once again this report offers no evidence to support any allegation. What is interesting is that the Assembly didn’t even try to prove Tish James’ bogus “11 legal violations,” and instead only focused on two. When all the facts are fairly weighed there will be none.
“To be clear, the people who volunteered to work on the book were people mentioned in the book and therefore they were involved to make sure the representations concerning them were accurate. Staff who volunteered took time off, evidencing that they were volunteering and not on state time. Any suggestion to the contrary is Assembly hype. The people who volunteered were senior members in the administration and were highly sophisticated in terms of official activities and volunteer activities and had performed both many times in the past. During the time period in question Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, James Malatras, Melissa DeRosa, Gareth Rhodes, and Stephanie Benton, all mentioned in the book, reviewed it at no cost to the state. Junior staff working on Covid materials were not helping on the book, but were helping on the state’s Covid response.
“The Assembly report is hypocritical, revisionist and damns themselves as the Assembly effectively forces employees to volunteer on their political partisan campaigns as standard practice and if they want to debate it we welcome it. Let them start by disclosing which staffers also do political work. Will the Judiciary committee members that raised the issue disclose their staff members who volunteer to work on their campaigns and if not why not?
“They apparently couldn’t find a similar distraction from priority testing after we pointed out the hypocrisy that multiple Assembly members, including members of this very committee, along with staff and family members, were provided testing when asked. That’s why the matter was dropped altogether from the report. However, the Assembly’s duplicity must not be allowed to go unanswered. They must disclose what members, staff and family members received priority testing. They were highly critical of priority testing, but are now silent on who in their house received such testing. They must stop their cover-up.
“The conclusions that the DOH report on nursing home COVID transmissions was accurate, that there was no evidence that the March 25 order resulted in additional fatalities and that we received constant reassurances from the Thruway Authority that the bridge was safe by no means suggests that this was a fair and balanced report.
“The truth will come out.”
Read the full report here: