Cuomo Sends Letter Authorizing Probe of Harassment Claims

NEW YORK (AP) -
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo delivers his State of the State address virtually from The War Room at the state Capitol, in Albany, N.Y., on Jan. 11, 2021. (AP Photo/Hans Pennink, Pool, File)

New York’s attorney general said she’s moving forward with an investigation into harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo after receiving a letter from his office Monday authorizing her to take charge of the probe.

The referral letter allows Attorney General Letitia James to deputize an outside law firm to conduct the inquiry with full subpoena power. When the investigation is finished, the findings will be disclosed in a public report, the letter said.

James, in a statement announcing she received the letter, said: “This is not a responsibility we take lightly,” as she stressed that harassment allegations should always be taken seriously.

Two aides who’ve worked for Cuomo have come forward to accuse him of harassing them.

The governor, a Democrat, acknowledged for the first time Sunday that some of his behavior “may have been insensitive or too personal,” and said he would cooperate with the attorney general’s investigation.

Cuomo addressed the allegations in a statement and has not been seen in public since last Wednesday. He said he had teased people about their personal lives in an attempt to be “playful.”

“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted,” and apologized for it.

The letter authorizing James’ investigation said that all state employees have been directed to cooperate fully with the review. Cuomo senior adviser Beth Garvey penned the letter and said she would facilitate interviews with witness and requests for documents from Cuomo’s office.

The referral came after a weekend of wrangling over who should investigate his workplace behavior. First, Cuomo’s office said it would ask a former federal judge to conduct the probe. Then, it suggested James and the state’s top judge work together to appoint outside counsel to look into the matter.

Finally, on Sunday, Cuomo acquiesced to James’ demands to take control the inquiry.