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Assembly Probe Finds 'Overwhelming Evidence' Of Sexual Harassment By Former Gov. Andrew Cuomo

ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee released the findings of its investigation into former Gov. Andrew Cuomo Monday, producing fresh allegations to lay at Cuomo's doorstep.

As CBS2's Marcia Kramer reported, there are a number of new details, which deal not only with sexual harassment allegations, but the ex-governor's mega-million dollar book deal and the state employees he ordered to work to bring the book to market.

The head of the Judiciary Committee told Kramer the report will drive a stake through any future political ambitions Cuomo harbors in his heart.

Web Extra: Read the report (pdf)

"There are constant reports that he wants to run for office again, either as attorney general or governor or something. Do you think this disqualifies him from any further attempts to have a statewide office, or any office?" Kramer asked.

"I think the report establishes conclusively that Andrew Cuomo is not fit for public office," said Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Lavine.

GOP gubernatorial candidate and Congressman Lee Zeldin tried to score political points.

"Despite having this overwhelming evidence to substantiate this misconduct, the New York State Legislature did nothing, letting him off scot-free to resign on his own terms and continue his attacks and efforts to undermine his victims," Zeldin said in a statement.

Zeldin also tried to hog-tie Gov. Kathy Hochul to Cuomo, even though it was well known that Cuomo and his then-lieutenant governor were far from kissing cousins.

"We're now left with Cuomo's lieutenant, who was either complicit or out to lunch from scandal to scandal, empowering this disgusting behavior while Andrew Cuomo cultivated a toxic and deadly culture, leaving a trail of victims in its wake," Zeldin said.

But Hochul was having none of it.

"We've changed the culture from day one. A culture of transparency, accountability and ensuring that everyone feels respected in the workforce. So anyone who works for our administration knows that it's a whole new day, and I'm proud of that," Hochul said.

The report on Cuomo's behavior in office involved interviews and depositions from more than 200 people, ranging from the women he is accused of sexually abusing, allegations about the underreporting of nursing home deaths, and the huge role reportedly played by members of his administration in arranging, typing editing, and weighing in on his book.

The report charges that Cuomo involved many in his administration in the $5.2 million pandemic book project. For example, one night five junior staffers were ordered to compile materials related to his COVID press briefings on a "non-voluntary basis." It took them several hours to complete, the report alleges.

But no one seems to have had a greater role than secretary to the governor Melissa DeRosa, who was identified by sources as the senior executive chamber official in the report who served "as the key point of contact for the book, and sent and received at least 1,000 emails regarding the book."

"No one in the executive chamber was supposed to have worked on that book. No stage facilities were to have been used in the preproduction of the book that was utterly and completely disregarded," Lavine said.

The report included salacious details relating to the allegations of sexual abuse, including a female state trooper the governor allegedly touched "inappropriately on multiple occasions."

"It's conduct unbecoming. We wouldn't want our sisters, we wouldn't want our daughters working in any such environment. And it's a very sad piece of New York state history," Lavine said.

A Cuomo spokesman described the report as "hypocritical," since "the Assembly effectively forces employees to volunteer on their political partisan campaigns as standard practice."

In their conclusion, the authors said Cuomo:

  • Engaged in multiple instances of sexual harassment, including by creating a hostile work environment and engaging in sexual misconduct

  • Utilized state resources and property, including work by Executive Chamber staff, to write, publish, and promote his Book regarding his handling of the COVID-19 crisis – a project for which he was guaranteed at least $5.2 million in personal profit; and at the same time

  • Was not fully transparent regarding the number of nursing home residents who died as a result of COVID-19.

"As noted, we are mindful of the ongoing law enforcement interests into several of the matters covered in this report. We have prepared this report with those interests in mind and we are cooperating with any such investigations," they wrote.

Cuomo's spokesperson issued a statement in response to the report, calling it, among other things, "revisionist."

Any report that uses the Attorney General's politically biased investigation as a basis is going to be equally flawed. To date we have not been allowed the opportunity to review evidence in the Assembly's possession, despite requests to do so and due process was certainly not afforded here. 

Once again, the fact that an employee entered and exited the Executive Mansion as part of her job was never in dispute and once again this report offers no evidence to support any allegation. What is interesting is that the Assembly didn't even try to prove Tish James' bogus "11 legal violations," and instead only focused on two. When all the facts are fairly weighed there will be none.

To be clear, the people who volunteered to work on the book were people mentioned in the book and therefore they were involved to make sure the representations concerning them were accurate. Staff who volunteered took time off, evidencing that they were volunteering and not on state time. Any suggestion to the contrary is Assembly hype. The people who volunteered were senior members in the administration and were highly sophisticated in terms of official activities and volunteer activities and had performed both many times in the past. During the time period in question Robert Mujica, Beth Garvey, James Malatras, Melissa DeRosa, Gareth Rhodes, and Stephanie Benton, all mentioned in the book, reviewed it at no cost to the state. Junior staff working on Covid materials were not helping on the book, but were helping on the state's Covid response. 

The Assembly report is hypocritical, revisionist and damns themselves as the Assembly effectively forces employees to volunteer on their political partisan campaigns as standard practice and if they want to debate it we welcome it. Let them start by disclosing which staffers also do political work. Will the Judiciary committee members that raised the issue disclose their staff members who volunteer to work on their campaigns and if not why not?

They apparently couldn't find a similar distraction from priority testing after we pointed out the hypocrisy that multiple Assembly members, including members of this very committee, along with staff and family members, were provided testing when asked. That's why the matter was dropped altogether from the report. However, the Assembly's duplicity must not be allowed to go unanswered. They must disclose what members, staff and family members received priority testing. They were highly critical of priority testing, but are now silent on who in their house received such testing. They must stop their cover-up.

The conclusions that the DOH report on nursing home COVID transmissions was accurate, that there was no evidence that the March 25 order resulted in additional fatalities and that we received constant reassurances from the Thruway Authority that the bridge was safe by no means suggests that this was a fair and balanced report. 

The truth will come out.

This is not the final chapter in the Cuomo saga. The U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn is investigating Cuomo, as are several district attorneys, including Westchester prosecutors who are reportedly looking at the allegation made by the state trooper.

Cuomo is also facing criminal charges stemming from an allegation he groped Commisso at the Executive Mansion in 2019.

Last week, the New York state Joint Commission on Public Ethics voted to rescind its approval of Cuomo's book deal.

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