Created: November 19, 2021 11:30 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — State lawmakers could be on the verge of unveiling new accusations of wrongdoing against former governor Andrew Cuomo.
Members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee said their investigation into several issues is finished and their report is ready for release and it could be made public shortly.
Allegations against Cuomo have been the focus of an inquiry by the outside law firm of Davis Polk & Wardwell which started as an impeachment investigation before Cuomo resigned in August.
Many of the allegations are familiar ones but committee members say now they have the evidence spelled out and several have begun speaking out about their findings.
"I think the conclusions are very clear, that there was misconduct,” declared one committee member on Friday, Mary Beth Walsh (R, 112).
Even with former governor Cuomo out of office, members of the Assembly Judiciary Committee say it's important to highlight their findings against him.
On Friday afternoon Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi complained “The Assembly Judiciary Committee has chosen not to review their findings with us which is their prerogative, but it may once again result in a one-sided report.”
Ahead of the report’s release, committee members say it covers the $5.2 million deal for his book "American Crisis, Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic", in which Cuomo discusses his own handling of the pandemic, and on which the committee now says, there is abundant proof he had state employees do the work.
“There is no question that Former and Governor Cuomo used state employees, on the state payroll, in order to prepare this book, where he personally gained $5.2 million,” declared Marjorie Byrnes (R, 133). “Not just senior staff. Many staff were involved, working on government time, to the point one of them sent out, over the course of six months, more than 1000 emails to the publisher.”
"The governor has a campaign account, of $30 some-odd million at the time,” marveled Phil Steck (D, 110). “He could've hired a team of people to work on his book, legitimately, with his political… with his political capital.”
And in handling coronavirus, the committee finds numerous emails showing Cuomo and his team pressured the New York State Department of Health to issue a COVID-19 report minimizing thousands of deaths in nursing homes after the governor ordered COVID-19 patients into nursing homes.
"He wanted to make sure he came out good in his book,” Byrnes said. “And that he came out good in the Department of Health report, which is, I presume, exactly why Governor Cuomo personally reviewed and edited the report. "
On accusations by numerous women of sexual misconduct, the committee finds, much as attorney general James did in her investigation, that the then governor engaged in egregious harassment and possible criminal conduct with as many as 12 women.
“I think the report is outstanding, thorough,” Steck said. “I think it buttresses that conclusions of the Attorney General’s report. I think it’s a very strong body of work. I think, on the sexual harassment, there is absolutely no, absolutely no doubt that Governor was involved in sexual harassment.”
Out of office, Cuomo can’t be impeached. But committee members say the state’s Joint Commission on Public Ethics could bring charges against him for improperly using his staff on the book, and that he could possibly face criminal charges under the state’s public officers law.
Local prosecutors could yet go after him for sex abuse.
And then there are the voters.
“By holding him accountable to the public, as he's out there making noises about he's going to come back and run for office, no one's going to want to deal with him after they see that,” predicted Michael Montesano (R, 15).
Azzopardi says state employees “volunteered” to work on Cuomo’s book at no cost to the state as has been acceptable in the past and he says that principal can certainly be changed, but not retroactively.
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