Cuomo Asks State AG, Top Judge, to Launch Harassment Probe

February 28, 2021 Updated: February 28, 2021

ALBANY, N.Y.—New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has asked the state’s attorney general and chief appeals court judge to jointly appoint an independent lawyer to investigate claims he sexually harassed at least two women who worked for him.

It was unclear whether the proposal would appease legislative leaders and other top Democrats who had assailed Cuomo’s initial plan to appoint a retired federal judge to review his workplace conduct.

“The Governor’s Office wants a review of the sexual harassment claims made against the Governor to be done in a manner beyond reproach,” Beth Garvey, special counsel to the governor, said. “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.”

Garvey said the Democratic governor’s administration has asked Attorney General Letitia James and Janet DiFiore, 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.”

Garvey said that report would be solely controlled by the lawyer doing the review.

The administration’s proposal came almost simultaneously with a statement from James calling on Cuomo to issue an executive order putting her in exclusive control of the inquiry. She said such a referral would empower to issue subpoenas, enforceable in court.

“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,” James said. “I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”