Cuomo impeachment probe bolsters claims on book deal, sexual harassment and nursing homes

Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks.

Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the National Press Club. | Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo, file

ALBANI – The New York State Assembly’s report on its eight-month impeachment inquiry supports many of the allegations that have surfaced about former Governor Andrew Cuomo and offers new insight into his use of state resources to strike a $5 million book deal amid the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report focuses on three of the main allegations leveled against the former governor in recent months, who resigned in August amid a House and other investigations.

The report, released Monday after a week of previews by Albanian lawmakers, reinforces the findings of Attorney General Tish James’ investigation into allegations of sexual harassment, concluding that the former governor’s “challenges to the allegations” cannot “overcome overwhelming evidence of his misconduct.” ”

It concludes that Cuomo’s administration has manipulated data on nursing home residents’ deaths during the pandemic, with the aim of combating criticism about its decision-making.

The report further elaborates on its conclusion that Cuomo’s memoir “The American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic” relied on the use of state employees who did not volunteer their time.

The House of Representatives is not expected to turn its investigation, which began in March, into the basis of Cuomo’s impeachment after his resignation. But it says it plans to share its findings with law enforcement officials.

Como book: The topic on which the report contains the most recent information is the previous governor’s book deal. Various reports in recent months have said that state employees have been used to help Cuomo compose his fall 2020 memoir about the pandemic, for which he signed a contract worth more than $5.1 million.

His representatives have repeatedly said that all this work was either voluntary or minimal. But the association’s report says that was not the case.

“Evidence obtained shows that senior officials, and the former governor, worked on the book in the normal course of business,” the report says. A senior state official noted that working on the book is no different than any other assignment he received from the Executive Chamber during COVID. The state official explained that the tasks related to the book have been assigned by the superiors and are expected to be completed like any other task. He further explained that the work was not voluntary, as he was never asked to volunteer and was not aware of other officials who were asked to volunteer.”

“Working on the book threatens its ability to work on other COVID-related matters,” a separate senior official said in an August 2020 text message.

A senior staff member “served as the main point of contact” with the publisher, Penguin Random House, “and sent and received at least 1,000 emails regarding the book during the period July-December 2020.”

This employee – who is not explicitly named, but is clearly former senior aide Melissa DeRosa, based on other descriptions in the report – also helped organize an all-day meeting with the publisher, governor and senior staff on Friday in July and sent emails during Business Week “requires public figures to attend events with the then-governor to promote the book”.

The report also argues that lower-ranking employees were also closely involved in writing the book on a non-voluntary basis.

“A junior employee noted that late one evening, likely in June or early July, a senior executive in the Executive Chamber instructed the junior staff to compile material related to then-Governor Cuomo’s COVID press briefings on an urgent basis, a task that took nearly five Junior employees several hours to complete,” the report said. “In hindsight, the junior staff member believed this work was related to preparing the book. In interviews and attorneys’ representatives, many junior executive room staff members described participating in activities they understood to be related to the book—including copying dictations, printing and delivering documents in person, and compiling documents ‘, as stated in the report.

There are at least two other investigators investigating the book deal. Last week, the state’s Joint Committee on Public Ethics revoked permission it had given Cuomo to generate outside income from writing the memoirs, due to allegations that state employees helped author them. This cancellation may eventually result in a refund attempt.

sexual harassment: The association’s conclusions further confirm the accounts of nearly a dozen women who have come forward to accuse Cuomo of harassment and discredit many of Cuomo’s arguments against the conclusions in James’ August report. Some, but not all, of the women in James’ report provided additional testimony before the association.

It specifically highlighted testimony from former aide Brittany Commisso, who said Cuomo touched her in the executive palace last year, leading to criminal charges being filed. It also details testimony from a police officer who said the former governor touched her inappropriately on multiple occasions and made many inappropriate and offensive comments.

The inclusion of their experiences was not intended to belittle other reports, but to illustrate the nature of Cuomo’s behavior, the report stated, adding: “All [account] It independently meets the definition of sexual harassment under New York State law.”

Moreover, Cuomo was well aware of the definition of sexual harassment – as he emphasized in his testimony before the attorney general’s office.

The association also noted that Comiso’s timeline of events—which Cuomo and his personal attorney Rita Glavin have questioned as inconsistent across various interviews and records—did not invalidate her account and that Commisso “was consistent in all material respects in describing the former governor’s behavior toward her.”

According to the report, Cuomo’s denials of some accusations and his arguments against others – that his intentions were not malicious – do not negate the evidence that they occurred. The report adds that his employees and former aides do not question the reputation and motives of the women who have brought the charges.

The report states that “such an approach obscures the entirety of the former governor’s behavior toward women, not only in the executive room but in the workplace more broadly, and even toward his constituents.”

“We have reviewed the former governor’s challenges to the allegations, and nothing in his many memoirs can overcome the overwhelming evidence of his misconduct,” the report states.

Elderly care home deaths: The report also reinforced the findings of various other investigations that the Cuomo administration underestimated the number of deaths in nursing homes during the early months of the pandemic.

The department only included the number of deaths of individuals who died in nursing homes, omitting those who contracted Covid during their stay, but died in other facilities. The count occurred at a time when Cuomo was facing criticism for his decision to direct nursing homes to accept patients infected with the Covid virus.

“Evidence obtained during our investigation proves that while [Department of Health] Released under the auspices of the Department of Health, the report was largely revised by the Executive Chamber and was largely intended to combat criticism of former Governor Cuomo’s directive that nursing homes should readmit residents diagnosed with COVID-19, the report concludes. .

The association’s report did not delve deeply into the causes and effects of Como nursing home policies, saying they are not within their jurisdiction and would be outside their own qualifications. He also noted that some of the actions taken at the time “were taken in the context of a once-in-a-century event that was fast-moving and presented significant challenges”.

What then: The council leadership has repeatedly made clear that it has no plans to conduct an impeachment trial of the former governor after his resignation. The report cited an 1853 memorandum from the Judicial Committee to say it did not have the authority to continue formal proceedings.

That memorandum clarified, “It is among the provisions of the constitution, that a person must be in office at the time of impeachment.”[,]The constitution provides for only two methods of punishment. . . removal from office, or removal and removal from office; In either of the two punishment modes, the person must be in office, as removal is being contemplated in both cases, which can only be executed if the person is in office,” according to the report released on Monday.

(The 1853 memo, in particular, is not necessarily binding. The legislature ignored its conclusion on the question of whether a governor could be sued for a violation that occurred before he took office when it removed then-governor William Sulzer in 1913.)

But the association’s members have repeatedly said they intend to share their findings with officials who may take further action against Cuomo.

“The commission has provided relevant information from its investigation to law enforcement authorities and will continue to cooperate in connection with any such investigation,” the report said on the issue of sexual harassment.

The association also said it does not plan to share all essential evidence with the former governor’s lawyer, despite its requests.

“Facing an impeachment trial, the former governor chose to resign, not to challenge the available evidence and confront witnesses in that legal forum. Having missed this opportunity, he has no right to present any further evidence from this panel,” the report states.

Cuomo’s team said it was reviewing the report and did not immediately comment.

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