- Steve Bittenbender | The Center Square contributor
- February 10th, 2022
for the Roosevelt Island Daily News
(The Center Square) – Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, whose tenure in Albany ended last August after a sexual harassment probe from the state attorney general’s office, announced Thursday he plans to file formal ethics complaints against Attorney General Letitia James and the lawyers who led the independent investigation into the harassment allegations.
In a press conference, Cuomo attorney Rita Glavin said Cuomo would personally file the complaints himself as he claims James and Joon Kim and Anne Clarke all committed prosecutorial misconduct.
“The governor feels strongly that there was misconduct in the manner in which this investigation was conducted,” Glavin said. “And he thinks that the attorney grievance committee should look at this, which is why he personally is going to do the complaint.”
Glavin would not speculate on what action the committee may take. Still, she noted it can censure lawyers and suspend licenses.
That report said 11 women who made complaints against the then-governor were credible. However, a Cuomo spokesperson pointed out prosecutors in the counties where the alleged incidents took place all decided against pursuing criminal charges.
“The fact is that we’ve uncovered clear instances of blackmail, perjury, witness intimidation and suppression of testimony and evidence that undercut the AG’s conclusions,” Rich Azzopardi said in a statement. “There’s a reason five DAs looked at this report, and 11 cases suddenly became zero.”
Glavin on Thursday claimed James and investigators did not look into claims of perjury and witness tampering. She also accused James of leaving some information unredacted, even though Glavin claimed investigators “had reason to believe” it was not truthful. At the same time, Glavin claimed the report also redacted information that would question the validity of a complaint.
Other issues Glavin raised included the release of less than a quarter of the transcripts. Glavin also claimed James had political ambitions, referencing her announcement to run for governor in late October, which precluded the “slow roll” release of transcripts.
“It’s clear she wanted to damage Gov. Andrew Cuomo to advance her gubernatorial campaign because she’d been refusing to release the transcripts up to that point,” Glavin said. “She wanted to also hurt who she viewed as a primary political opponent with $15-to-$18 million in his war chest. That’s why she did it. There’s no other reason.”
James would eventually choose to run for re-election in early December and forego a race against Gov. Kathy Hochul, Cuomo’s successor.
A message to James’ office seeking comment was not immediately returned Thursday afternoon.
Besides Cuomo filing his complaint, Glavin said she would send letters to the district attorneys in the five counties where the sexual harassment allegations were made and ask them to do a criminal investigation into Cuomo’s claims of misconduct.
“Because this cannot be left unaccounted for,” she said.
James and the investigators aren’t the only targets for Cuomo and his camp. Glavin said she is also calling for an investigation into Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple, who she accused of leaking grand jury information to reporters.
The sheriff’s office filed a misdemeanor forcible touching charge against Cuomo one day before James announced her gubernatorial bid. However, that filing surprised the Albany County district attorney, and the charge was eventually dropped.
A message to Apple’s office was not immediately returned.
The sexual harassment report, released Aug. 3, was a tipping point for the Cuomo Administration. Until that point, the governor faced several investigations – the harassment cases being one of them – but calls for his resignation or impeachment began to swell after the independent investigators’ report.
Within a week, Cuomo would announce his resignation. He would officially step down in late August, saying he did not want the allegations, which he steadfastly denied, to be a distraction as the state continued its recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since leaving office, he and his supporters continued to speak out against the accusations and, in some cases, the accusers as well.
Thursday’s announcement comes just days after Bloomberg reported the former governor felt “vindicated” after prosecutors declined to charge him on any of the claims from the James report. He also did not rule out a potential run for office again.
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