The disaster worsens for Cuomo; AG needs to guide harassment probe | Oklahoma Information
ALBANY, NY (AP) – The Governor Andrew Cuomo crisis deepened Sunday when the Attorney General demanded that she be authorized to investigate allegations that he sexually molested at least two women who worked for him.
The nation’s top Democrats appeared to be failing Cuomo in large numbers as he tried to keep a say in who would investigate his behavior in the workplace.
Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat temporarily allied with Cuomo but independently elected, appeared to be proving a consensus to lead an investigation.
Over several hours on Sunday, she and other top party officials rejected two proposals from the governor that they said might have curtailed the independence of the investigation.
Under his first plan, announced Saturday night, a retired federal judge selected by Cuomo, Barbara Jones, would have reviewed his conduct in the workplace. In the second proposal, announced Sunday morning to appease lawmakers, Cuomo called on James and the state appeals court judge Janet DiFiore to jointly appoint an attorney to investigate the claims and issue a public report.
James said none of the plans went far enough.
“I do not accept the governor’s proposal,” she said. “The state executive law clearly gives my office the power to investigate this matter once the governor presents a referral. While I have great respect for Chief Justice DiFiore, I am the duly elected Attorney General and it is my responsibility to carry out this duty in accordance with Executive Law. The governor must provide this referral in order for an independent subpoena to be conducted. “
The governor’s office did not respond immediately.
Many of the biggest names in New York City politics quickly lined up behind James.
The two state parliament leaders, Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Congregation Speaker Carl Heastie both said they wanted her to handle the investigation.
Two New York Senators, Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, said an independent investigation was essential.
“These allegations are serious and deeply worrying. At the request of Attorney General James, the matter should be referred to her office so that she can conduct a transparent, independent and thorough subpoena investigation, “said Gillibrand.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki said: “There should be an independent review of these allegations.” She said this is something President Joe Biden supports. “And we believe we should move forward as soon as possible.”
Calls for an investigation into Cuomo’s behavior at work intensified after a second former administration employee went public on Saturday with allegations of harassment.
Charlotte Bennett, a lowly advisor in the governor’s administration through November, told the New York Times that Cuomo asked inappropriate questions about her sex life, including whether she ever had sex with older men, and made other comments she considered Measure of their interest interpreted an affair.
Her allegation came days after another former aide, Lindsey Boylan, a former assistant secretary for economic development and special adviser to the governor, addressed harassment allegations she first made in December. Boylan said Cuomo exposed her to an unwanted kiss and inappropriate comments about her appearance.
63-year-old Cuomo said in a statement Saturday that he intended to mentor 25-year-old Bennett. He has denied Boylan’s allegations.
The excitement over the sexual harassment allegations comes amid a new round of criticism of his leadership style and the measures his government has taken to protect his reputation as an early leader in the country’s coronavirus pandemic.
Cuomo had praised last spring’s crisis with rising case numbers and overcrowded morgues as a strong hand at the top. His book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons From The COVID-19 Pandemic, was published in October.
However, in recent weeks, his government has been forced to revise the number of COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes after criticizing it for undercounting deaths in order to blunt allegations that some of his government’s policies were addressing the situation in the Homes had deteriorated.
James fueled some of that criticism by issuing a report raising questions about whether the Cuomo administration had counted down the deaths.
Cuomo was also criticized after a member of the State Assembly published a story in which he was politically threatened by Cuomo for making comments to a newspaper about the governor’s coronavirus leadership. Cuomo said his comments were being misrepresented.
Now his support is waning faster.
“Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett’s detailed reports of sexual harassment by Governor Cuomo are extremely serious and painful to read,” said US Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez on Twitter on Sunday. “There needs to be an independent investigation – not one led by someone chosen by the governor, but by the attorney general.”
A group of more than a dozen Democratic women in the State Assembly said in a statement: “The governor’s proposal to appoint someone who is not independently elected has no subpoena and no law enforcement agency is inadequate.”
Matthews reported from New York City.
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