NY Attorney General Tish James’ Response to Sexual Misconduct Allegations Against Cuomo
In the span of the past week, two separate allegations of sexual misconduct have been alleged against NY State Governor Andrew Cuomo by two of his ex-aides, Lyndsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennet.
It would appear, as of the time of this writing on Sunday afternoon, that updates and additional statements (in a back and forth manner) will continue through the day and into the week. Those featured below on this page have been coming from each respective NY Figure’s office since yesterday.
NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Letitia James today released the following statement calling for a referral from Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate allegations of sexual harassment:
“Allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously. There must be a truly independent investigation to thoroughly review these troubling allegations against the governor, and I stand ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary. Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office based on State Law (§ 63-8) and must include subpoena power. I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”
The AG then released another statement clarifying her position and related responsibilities.
“To clarify, I do not accept the governor’s proposal. The state’s Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral. While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per Executive Law. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”
Thereafter, a statement was released by the Governor’s special counsel Beth Garvey:
“The Governor’s Office wants a review of the sexual harassment claims made against the Governor to be done in a manner beyond reproach. We had selected former Federal Judge Barbara Jones, with a stellar record for qualifications and integrity, but we want to avoid even the perception of a lack of independence or inference of politics.
“Accordingly we have asked the Attorney General of New York State and the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report. The work product will be solely controlled by that independent lawyer personally selected by the Attorney General and Chief Judge.
All members of the Governor’s office will cooperate fully. We will have no further comment until the report is issued.”
Statements released yesterday by the Governor and his special counsel Beth Garvey, provided below.
Statement from Governor Andrew M. Cuomo on February 27, 2020.
“Ms. Bennett was a hardworking and valued member of our team during COVID. She has every right to speak out.
“When she came to me and opened up about being a sexual assault survivor and how it shaped her and her ongoing efforts to create an organization that empowered her voice to help other survivors, I tried to be supportive and helpful. Ms. Bennett’s initial impression was right: I was trying to be a mentor to her. I never made advances toward Ms. Bennett nor did I ever intend to act in any way that was inappropriate. The last thing I would ever have wanted was to make her feel any of the things that are being reported.
“This situation cannot and should not be resolved in the press; I believe the best way to get to the truth is through a full and thorough outside review and I am directing all state employees to comply with that effort. I ask all New Yorkers to await the findings of the review so that they know the facts before making any judgements. I will have no further comment until the review has concluded.”
Statement from Beth Garvey, Special Counsel and Senior Advisor to the Governor
“Ms. Bennett’s concerns were treated with sensitivity and respect and in accordance with applicable law and policy.
“The matter was promptly escalated to special counsel. Ms. Bennett received the transfer she requested to a position in which she had expressed a long-standing interest, and was thoroughly debriefed on the facts which did not include a claim of physical contact or inappropriate sexual conduct. She was consulted regarding the resolution, and expressed satisfaction and appreciation for the way in which it was handled.
“The determination reached based on the information Ms Bennett provided was that no further action was required which was consistent with Ms Bennett’s wishes.
“Although in no way required by law, the Governor has requested an independent review and all staff will cooperate in that endeavor. Former Federal Judge Barbara Jones will lead the review.”
Today, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio also called for investigations as well as the revocation of the Governor’s Emergency Powers afforded him during the COVID-19 crisis.