The federal government is following state and legislative authorities in investigating sexual harassment allegations against former Governor Andrew Cuomo, which forced him out of office according to The New York Post.
A legal services contract published by the state Comptroller’s Office on Thursday in response to a Freedom of Information Law request filed by The Post contains the startling revelation of a second Department of Justice probe.
The contract, which was signed in October, refers to previously disclosed Department of Justice investigations into Cuomo’s handling of the COVID-19 epidemic, its cover-up of nursing home deaths, and Cuomo’s $5.1 coronavirus biography.
“DOJ has also begun an inquiry pertaining to sexual harassment charges made against the then Governor,” the statement continues.
According to The Washington Post, the investigation is focused on alleged violations of federal civil rights and labor laws.
Governor Kathy Hochul’s spokesman said her office has “retained counsel to address concerns connected to pending investigations inherited from the previous administration.”
Officials “received an inquiry relative to an investigation being conducted by the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York,” according to press secretary Hazel Crampton-Hays, who did not clarify.
The Department of Justice and the United States Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn, EDNY, both declined to comment.
According to insiders, federal prosecutors in Brooklyn and the FBI are looking into the pandemic and memoir-related issues as potential criminal cases.
According to Cuomo’s spokesman, the latest investigation was initiated after state Attorney General Letitia James — who is now running for governor — released the bombshell report that forced Cuomo to quit under threat of impeachment.
“Based on the AG’s politically motivated sham report, the Civil Division launched an inquiry in August, and we have heard nothing since,” stated spokesperson Rich Azzopardi.
During his nearly three terms in office, Cuomo was accused of sexually harassing 11 women, including nine current or former state employees, according to James’ study.
Cuomo and his aides “violated many state and federal laws, as well as the Executive Chamber’s own stated policies,” according to James.
Cuomo, 63, was charged with forced touching, a misdemeanor, in October following allegations in the report that he groped an assistant inside the governor’s official house, the Executive Mansion in Albany, last year.
“What he did to me was a crime,” Brittany Commisso, 33, has claimed of Cuomo. He disobeyed the law.”
Cuomo has categorically denied any misconduct.
The contract, which was made public on Thursday, covers up to $2.5 million in payments to Willkie Farr & Gallagher, a white-shoe law firm, for legal services to Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office in connection with the DOJ probes, James’ investigation, and the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee’s recently concluded impeachment investigation.
Willkie Farr became the eighth law firm recruited by state officials since Cuomo was embroiled in controversy early this year.
According to Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the total amount permitted to far is roughly $23 million in taxpayer funds.
Cuomo opponent Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Queens) argued on Thursday that the former governor should be obliged to cover the charges with the $18 million in his campaign account.
“If I were the state comptroller, I would have cancelled the contracts and clawed back every dollar we paid Cuomo,” he stated.
“The state comptroller should use all of his powers to reject these contracts as soon as possible.”
“Assemblyman Kim is mistaken,” a DiNapoli spokesman said.
In an email, spokesman Jennifer Freeman said, “The State Comptroller has no existing legal authority to withdraw a contract for legal representation because the State Comptroller is offended by the findings of underlying investigations.”
“The Assemblyman should modify the statute to give the State Comptroller more discretion.”