In the course of the last week, Governor Cuomo has been accused of sexual harassment by two former staffers. As always, regardless of the person, I believe everyone should have their due process. I also believe the allegations that are being made by both Lindsey Boylan and Charlotte Bennett are serious and warrant an independent investigation.
In predictable Albany fashion, Governor Cuomo’s initial response was to keep as much control as possible over the review of the allegations. He initially directed former U.S. District Judge Barbara Jones to conduct the review. Ms. Jones is reported to be a previous law firm partner with Steven Cohen, a former top aide and confidant of the Governor. No, the Governor does not and should not get to appoint his own “reviewer” into these allegations. That was an insane proposal. The Governor was shamed by the public and members of the legislature and has since reportedly reversed course. He is now asking Attorney General Letitia James and Chief Judge Janet DiFiore to appoint an investigator to review the allegations.
I agree with AG James that she should receive the referral independent of the Chief Judge so the AG can do her job and appoint a special investigator, free of any outside political influences. If the Governor does not provide this referral as requested by AG James, then the legislature should amend the law, override any potential veto, and empower the AG to appropriately carry out the duties of her elected office.
This alone is not enough to restore public confidence in state government. In addition to reported preliminary open investigations by the FBI and US Attorney, we still need full investigations by the legislature utilizing subpoena powers to reveal the truth about how controversial state policies for COVID19 in nursing homes were crafted and why critical information was hidden from the legislature and the public for so many months. Remember, it was Assemblyman Ron Kim’s bravery speaking up about Gov. Cuomo’s bullish tactics and alleged coercion that inspired others like Ms. Boylan to publish her essay which reportedly inspired Ms. Bennett to share her story. All of this must be thoroughly investigated so that victims are heard, justice is sought, and violators of the law are held accountable.
While some legislators have elected to remain largely silent on these issues, several of my other colleagues, from both sides of the aisle, have already called on the Governor to resign.
If legislators believe he should resign, then they should also join me in supporting the Assembly resolution to immediately commence an impeachment commission that would further investigate allegations of “willful and corrupt misconduct” for the purpose of recommending potential counts of impeachment.
Below are simple steps that every state legislator should embrace to help our state move forward:
▶️ Governor’s emergency powers must be revoked.
▶️ All sexual harassment allegations against the Governor must be independently investigated.
▶️ Gov. Cuomo’s nursing home coverup must be investigated.
▶️ An impeachment commission must be formed.
***Update*** Since releasing our statement, Governor Cuomo has again revised his attempt to control the review and has reportedly conceded to letting AG James appoint special investigator.
The above information was previously distributed and made public for immediate release by the Office of Assemblyman Kevin Byrne