Probe finds ‘overwhelming evidence’ of misconduct by Cuomo

Monday, November 22, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — A legislative investigation released Monday found “overwhelming evidence” that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed women and that he ordered state workers to help produce his book on pandemic leadership during work hours.

The report also found that Cuomo’s staff “substantially revised” a state health department report on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes to exclude statistics that might have dimmed his reputation as a pandemic leader.

The findings, authored by a law firm hired by the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, were widely expect ed, and the sections on sexual harassment largely echo allegations previously made in a report last summer by the state’s attorney general.

But it offered some new details, particularly around the $5.2 million private deal Cuomo struck to write a book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons on the Pandemic.”

Cuomo had promised state ethics officials that no state resources would be used on the book, but the Assembly’s investigators at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell said they found evidence the governor had his staff spend copious amounts of time on the project.

“One senior state official explained that book-related assignments were given by superiors and expected to be completed, and the work was not voluntary,” the report said. “Another senior state official complained in a text message to a colleague that work on the book was compromising the official’s ability to work on COVID-related matters.”

Junior and senior staff members told investigators they were asked to perform book tasks during their work day, including transcribing dictations, printing and delivering documents, and attending meetings with agents and publishers.

One senior state official sent and received 1,000 emails about the book, the report said. The report didn’t name the official, but included details identifying her as his former top aide, Melissa DeRosa.

Responding to the report Monday, Cuomo’s spokesperson, Richard Azzopardi, said senior staff who helped with the book did so on their personal time. He denied that junior staff was involved, as the report claims.

On the sexual harassment allegations, Azzopardi said the Assembly had relied too much on information gathered during a “politically biased” investigation overseen by the attorney general, Letitia James, who is now running for governor.

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