ALBANY, N.Y. (WTEN) — New York State Assemblyman Phil Steck has confirmed to NEWS10 that the Assembly Judiciary Committee’s investigation into former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo validates the findings of the Attorney General’s investigation. The NYS Attorney General’s Office released their report in August, finding that Cuomo harassed multiple women.
“Reading it is disturbing, but 90% of it has already been in the public eye through various other reports or through the news,” said Steck.
The report not only looked into the sexual harassment allegations, but also the state’s COVID nursing home data controversy and issues concerning Cuomo’s book. It was 46 pages, not including footnotes, and took two hours to read, according to Steck. He said the report found Cuomo did use state resources to write and publish his book for a personal profit.
“It’s very clear that the governor ran the exec chamber to produce the report, which he was told by JCOPE not to do. So, his argument was that these people were volunteering, that’s contrary to the evidence,” said Steck.
JCOPE, the Joint Commission on Public Ethics, voted to rescind prior approval for Cuomo’s book on November 16.
The report says the Governor’s office intervened before the Department of Health could release two sets of data on nursing home deaths, and had them only release one set of data of patients who physically died in nursing homes. Steck said this act by Cuomo was a “material misrepresentation” of what was going on in nursing homes.
Steck said the Assembly’s report is accurate and includes a more established timeline of Cuomo’s interactions with Brittany Commisso, a former staffer who said Cuomo sexually abused her.
The original contract for the law firm that led the investigation, Davis Polk & Wardwell was $250,000. That was recently amended to add $4,870,000 thousand dollars, bringing the total spending cap to about $5.1 million, the same amount as Cuomo’s book deal. Steck said the high cost comes with hiring a highly credible legal team.
Assembly Judiciary Committee Michael Montesano says he was not surprised with the findings of the report. He was pleased to see it was written in “ordinary terms” that will be easy for the public to understand once it is published. According to Montesano, it will be released to the public in the very near future, possibly within the next several days.
Spokesperson for former governor Andrew Cuomo, Rich Azzopardi, responded to the report with the following statement, “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. However, we must all live within the same standard. State employees volunteered to assist the governor with his book American Crisis and now the Assembly apparently wants to criticize them. If they want to set a new standard that is also their prerogative — but the current standard is that a state employee can volunteer in a personal or political effort as long as they take time off so that there is no cost to the state. This is a common practice in the legislature as well and the Executive Branch and we are sure people such as the Attorney General’s chief of staff Ibrahim Khan and those working in the current Executive Chamber, the Comptroller’s Office, the Assembly and the State Senate volunteer to help on political campaigns and to attend personal events. If the Assembly now chooses to prohibit or modify the practice or change regulations on incidental use of state resources, they are free to do so. However new standards cannot be applied retroactively and should be rigorously enforced prospectively.”
The Assembly Judiciary Committee launched the impeachment probe after the sexual harassment allegations were made against Cuomo. The impeachment investigation ended after Cuomo announced his resignation in August.