Andrew Cuomo‘s office has opened its own inquiry into allegations by an aide that he groped her last year – sparking anger and concern about a ‘shadow inquiry’, while the New York attorney general’s team continue its work.
The woman’s attorney said the inquiry by Cuomo’s team, at the same time as AG Letitia James’s prosecutors investigate the same allegations, was deeply troubling.
‘It’s absurd. Why would you be doing that?’ he said.
‘It’s not appropriate, and obviously we’re concerned with the ramifications and the effect on witnesses and the quest for the truth.’
He characterized it as a ‘shadow investigation.’
It is one of three now being carried out: James’ inquiry, one launched by Carl Heastie, the state Speaker of the House, and the internal one.
Heastie’s inquiry, into a possible impeachment of Cuomo, was rejected on Wednesday by one of the accusers, Lindsey Boylan.
The internal investigation concerns claims the embattled New York governor groped a female staff member inside the Executive Mansion.
The unnamed female aide, who is said to be much younger than Cuomo and is still employed by the state, claims the 63-year-old governor summoned her to his residence in the Executive Mansion, where he put his hand under her shirt and fondled her.
She said she was summoned by the governor who told her he needed help with his cellphone.
Cuomo, the governor of New York, has been accused of sexual harassment by seven women
The sixth accuser said her incident occurred late last year at the Executive Mansion in Albany
Cuomo on Wednesday was seen getting his COVID vaccine in Harlem, New York City
Her accusations were first reported by The Albany Times Union on March 9: on Wednesday the paper reported the details of the internal investigation.
A senior aide to Cuomo told the paper that their inquiry was a procedural matter.
‘We have our own inquiries ongoing,’ the aide said.
‘We have an obligation to investigate any claim of sexual harassment.
‘And we, after reporting (the female aide’s allegations) to the (attorney general), were directed to continue our own inquiry.
‘So there are multiple inquiries.’
Debra Katz, who is representing Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett, 25, said the internal inquiry was ‘absolutely wrong’.
‘Running a ‘parallel review’ to identify potential witnesses and providing attorneys to coach and supervise witnesses who testify before the independent investigators is absolutely wrong,’ she said.
‘At best, these actions will have a chilling effect on potential witnesses or accusers who want to come forward without fear of retaliation.
‘At worst, this is a deliberate attempt by the Governor’s office to interfere with the attorney general’s investigation.’
Lindsey Boylan, a former Cuomo aide, came out in December with allegations against him – she further detailed her experience in a February post to Medium
Anna Ruch (left) and Ana Liss both accused Cuomo of inappropriate behavior
Karen Hinton (left), a press aide, and Jessica Bakeman accused Cuomo of inappropriate actions
Charlotte Bennett, 25, accused Cuomo of propositioning her in his office in June
The Albany Police Department has been formally notified by Cuomo’s office regarding an allegation the embattled governor groped a female staffer in an incident that may have ‘risen to the level of a crime’
Beth Garvey, Cuomo’s acting counsel, said on Wednesday: ‘We fully informed the (attorney general’s) office of the required process with this type of allegation and they said to follow it.
‘The matter was referred to GOER (Governor’s Office of Employee Relations) and (we) informed local law enforcement and that is the full extent of the action.’
The aide’s allegations came to light on March 3, when she became emotional at work as they were observing Cuomo during a press conference in which he was denying ever touching any women ‘inappropriately.’
When they asked her what was wrong, she told them about her alleged encounter with Cuomo at the governor’s mansion.
The paper reported the allegations on March 9, with her becoming the sixth of seven women to have now accused Cuomo of harassment.
On March 11 Cuomo referred himself to the police, in an incident that may have ‘risen to the level of a crime‘, officials confirmed.
A spokesperson for the department, Steve Smith, said that police had not received a formal complaint from the aide, but they have reached out to a representative for her.
This does not mean police have opened a criminal investigation, rather that the department has offered its services to the woman, ‘as we would any other report or incident’, Smith said.
James’ inquiry, led by federal prosecutor Joon Kim and employment lawyer Anne Clark, is believed to be moving swiftly, with Bennett and Boylan both confirming they spoke to the team for several hours.
Heastie’s impeachment inquiry was proving more problematic.
Last week he authorized an impeachment investigation by the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, and on Wednesday Boylan said it was a distraction.
‘Do not trust @CarlHeastie. His impeachment investigation is not designed to be transparent or to move fast, and there’s nothing @NYGovCuomo wants more than time,’ she wrote.
‘Many of us have not put our whole lives on the line for this crap. I certainly have not and will not.’
Boylan, now a Democratic candidate for Manhattan borough president, also said that she — and unspecified other women — would not cooperate with the Judiciary Committee’s probe.
‘What would be the point of survivors talking to investigators of your sham investigation @CarlHeastie?’ she wrote.
‘I am in conversation with other women who have no interest in your corrupt, cynical ‘investigation.’ Hard pass.’
What happens if Gov. Andrew Cuomo resigns from office?
If Cuomo resigns Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul (pictured) would take over
As of Friday afternoon, 14 out of 19 of New York’s congressional Democrats have called for Governor Andrew Cuomo’s resignation.
They are joined by all Democrats in the NY State Senate and by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Cuomo on Friday refused to accept that he should resign despite the mounting pressure.
If he resigns Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul would take over.
She would finish Cuomo’s term until the next scheduled gubernatorial election in 2022.
Hochul is a Democrat who has served since 2015 and was a NY representative for New York’s 26th congressional district from 2011 to 2013.
She backed an investigation into allegations against Cuomo last month.
‘Everyone deserves to have their voice heard and to be taken seriously. I support an independent review,’ she said.
The last time a governor resigned was in early 2008.
Gov. Eliot Spitzer left office after he admitted to having extramarital affairs with sex workers.
When Spitzer stepped down, Lieutenant Governor David Paterson took over until 2010.
Cuomo, then Attorney General, won that election to take over from Paterson.
To date, a lieutenant governor has stepped in to carry out a gubernatorial term in New York on eight occassions, the first one taking place in 1817.
LG Hochul would also take over if Cuomo is impeached.
New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie authorized its Judiciary Committee to start an impeachment investigation into Cuomo Thursday.
The last time a NY governor was impeached was in 1913.
The process in New York is very similar to the impeachment procedure in Congress.
A simple majority in the state Assembly is required to impeach a governor.
It then goes to the state impeachment court.
A two-thirds majority of the state Senate and the justices of the New York Court of Appeals would be required to convict Cuomo and remove him from office.
The lieutenant governor takes over as acting governor while the trial plays out.