Gov. Andrew Cuomo used campaign funds to pay the attorney representing him in his sexual harassment case despite previously stating that he would use state financing to pay for his legal fees.
Cuomo's reelection campaign, “Andrew Cuomo for New York,” gave Glavin PLLC, a New York-based law firm, $111,774 on May 3 and $173,098 on June 2, according to disclosures released by New York's Board of Elections on Friday. That same June day, Cuomo told reporters that he would use taxpayer funding rather than campaign finances for his legal defense amid the New York State Assembly's “impeachment investigation” into claims of sexual harassment against the governor.
“The way it works is the Executive Chamber has retained a counsel, and that is a state expense, [as] it has been in every investigation, so that's where we are now,” he said at New York City's Javits Center on June 2.
It was estimated in early June that Cuomo's legal defense could cost New York taxpayers up to $2.5 million.
Representatives for Glavin PLLC and Cuomo did not immediately respond to the Washington Examiner's requests for comment.
On Thursday, it was reported that Cuomo would be questioned by lawyers from Attorney General Letitia James's office as part of her inquiry into claims of sexual harassment against him, which is separate from the Assembly's impeachment investigation.
Debra Katz, the attorney for Cuomo accuser Charlotte Bennett, celebrated the fact that Cuomo “will be questioned under oath by seasoned investigators with the New York State attorney general’s office.”
“He will not be able to deflect questions like he has at his press conference, and he will not be able to play with words,” she said in a press statement. “Will he admit to his inappropriate behavior, or will he continue his ridiculous lies and victim-blaming? Which story will he tell this time?”
Richard Azzopardi, a senior Cuomo aide, was reportedly interviewed by James's office last month, signifying that her investigation may be nearing a close.
“I cannot comment on whether or not we've interviewed the governor of the state of New York, but we have engaged in a number of interviews already,” James said during an unrelated press conference on June 24, adding that she “cannot speak to whether or not we've communicated with members of the governor's administration.”
Cuomo denied all allegations of inappropriate touching, but he did apologize for making women feel uncomfortable.
James's investigation into claims of sexual harassment expanded in May to look into claims that a top adviser tied counties' COVID-19 vaccine access to support for the governor, which Garvey said “malign[ed] a decadeslong public servant.”
The New York Democrat faces other scandals threatening his governorship.
The governor has been accused of directing state health officials to give special COVID-19 testing access to members of his inner circle. Azzopardi denied those claims as “insincere efforts to rewrite the past” in an email to the Washington Examiner.
The alleged use of state resources in the promotion of Cuomo's book, American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from COVID-19 Pandemic, has also attracted scrutiny from elected officials. In April, James received a referral to conduct a criminal investigation into Cuomo's use of state resources to promote the book after a March 31 ethics complaint from a liberal watchdog group sought an inquiry into whether he violated a law prohibiting “the use of campaign funds for personal use.” Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli authorized James to examine “any indictable offense or offenses,” including “the drafting, editing, sale, and promotion of the governor’s book and any related financial or business transactions.”
In addition, the Democratic governor is under federal investigation for his handling of nursing homes during the COVID-19 pandemic after Melissa DeRosa, a top Cuomo aide, acknowledged that the governor's office hid the state's nursing home coronavirus death toll out of fear of political retribution from then-President Donald Trump.
Facing mounting pressure from within his party to resign, Cuomo, who is eligible to seek a fourth term in office in 2022, has vowed not to step down, saying all allegations of impropriety against him are false.
Cuomo has signaled that he's running, holding a $10,000-per-person fundraiser last month at which he raised more than $1 million toward his reelection efforts.
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