ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The costs of former Governor Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal continue adding up, with new concerns over the potential for reimbursement into his campaign fund.
Albany County District Attorney David Soares wrote to a judge that the criminal complaint filed by Sheriff Craig Apple was “potentially defective.” If the misdemeanor sex crime charges are dropped or don’t end in a conviction, taxpayer money for his defense could end up back in his finances for political use.
Blair Horner, Executive Director of the New York Public Interest Research Group, says New York law, in many cases, has the state reimburse public employees for legal fees if charges are dismissed or a person is acquitted.
But for politicians like ex-Governor Cuomo, who used campaign donations for his defense, that reimbursement could go into his campaign fund if the Albany County case doesn’t result in conviction.
“It’s not completely clear in this case, since the allegations against the former governor deal with his behavior not as a public official,” said Horner. “Should he get reimbursed for that, that may be something that the Attorney General will have to look at.”
Horner says the Attorney General, whether that would be Letitia James or someone else, would have a say in whether the charges were related enough to his duties in office to qualify for reimbursement.
Ultimately, it’s his opinion that the law which allows the possibility of campaign fund reimbursement is “crazy.”
“If he’s not running for office, he’s not a party official, he’s not a candidate, none of those things are there, we believe in our view the money should be given back,” Horner explained.
Meanwhile, taxpayers could be footing $5.1 million for the now-defunct Assembly impeachment investigation into the former governor. The original contract for law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell was $250k, which records show has already been spent.
But last week, the contract was amended to add $4,870,000 thousand dollars, bringing the total spending cap to about $5.1 million.
That’s the same amount as Cuomo’s book deal, which was also part of the Assembly’s probe.
Next Thursday and Friday, the Assembly Judiciary Committee will be in Albany to review the Cuomo investigation report, which included interviews with 165 witnesses, along with the review of hundreds of thousands of documents, recordings, and other materials.