Cuomo impeachment probe bolsters claims on book deal, sexual harassment and nursing homes

Andrew Cuomo speaks during a press conference at the National Press Club. | Jacquelyn Martin / AP Photo, File

ALBANY – The New York State Assembly’s report of its eight-month impeachment investigation supports many of the allegations that have emerged about former Governor Andrew Cuomo and offers new insights into his use of state resources to bring up a $ 5 million book deal the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The report focuses on three of the main allegations made in recent months against the ex-governor, who resigned in August following the gathering and other investigations.

The report, released Monday after a week of preview by Albany legislature, supports the results of Attorney General Tish James’ investigation into allegations of sexual harassment and concludes that “the former governor’s contestations of allegations” cannot “overcome the overwhelming evidence of his wrongdoing”. ”

It concludes that the Cuomo administration tampered with data on deaths of nursing home residents during the pandemic to combat criticism of its decision-making.

And the report provides more details in its conclusion that Cuomo’s memoir, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic,” was based on the involvement of government officials who did not volunteer their time.

The gathering is not expected to use its investigation, which began in March, as a basis for impeachment proceedings against Cuomo after his resignation. But it says it plans to share its findings with law enforcement.

Cuomo’s book: The subject on which the report contains the most new information is the ex-governor’s book deal. According to various reports over the past few months, government workers have been deployed to help Cuomo write his fall 2020 memoir about the pandemic, for which he signed a contract worth over $ 5.1 million.

Its representatives have repeatedly said that all of this work is either voluntary or de minimis. But the congregation’s report argues that it was neither.

“The evidence received shows that senior officials and the former governor worked on the book as part of their normal work routine,” the report said. “One senior civil servant described working on the book as no different from any other assignment he was given by the Executive Chamber during COVID. The civil servant stated that book-related tasks were given by supervisors and were expected to be performed like any other task. He further stated that the work was not voluntary as he was never asked to volunteer and he was unaware that other officials were asked to volunteer. ”

A separate senior official said in an August 2020 text message that “working on the book affects his ability to work on other COVID-related matters”.

A senior employee “served as the central point of contact” with the Penguin Random House publishing house “and sent and received at least 1,000 e-mails about the book between July and December 2020”.

This staff member – who wasn’t specifically named but is clearly former top advisor Melissa DeRosa according to other descriptions in the report – also helped organize a full-day meeting with the editor, governor and top staff on a Friday in July and sent emails during the working week asking “public figures to attend events with the then governor to promote the book”.

“Melissa took time off from work whenever she was involved with the book and meticulously noted it on her timesheet,” said Paul Shechtman, DeRosa’s attorney.

The report also argues that lower-level staff were closely involved in the authorship of the book on a non-voluntary basis.

“One young employee recalled that late one evening, probably in June or early July, a senior executive from the Executive Chamber instructed young employees to urgently compile materials for then-Governor Cuomo’s COVID press briefing, a task for the five or so junior staff It took several hours to complete, ”the report says. “In retrospect, the junior employee believes that this work was related to the creation of the book. In interviews and offers from attorneys, several other Junior Executive Chamber employees described their participation in activities that they believed were related to the book – including transcribing dictations, printing and handing over documents, and collating documents, ”says it in the report.

There are at least a couple of other probes investigating the book deal. Last week, the state Joint Commission on Public Ethics revoked the approval it had given Cuomo to generate external revenue from writing the memoir on allegations that state officials helped write the memoir. This revocation could eventually lead to an attempt to reclaim his income.

Sexual harassment: The conclusions of the gathering also confirm the reports of nearly a dozen women accusing Cuomo of harassment and refuting many of Cuomo’s arguments against the conclusions in James’ August report. Some – but not all – The women in James’ report gave additional testimony to the congregation.

It particularly highlighted the testimony of ex-employee Brittany Commisso, who said Cuomo groped her at the mansion last year, leading to a criminal charge. It also includes the testimony of a state trooper who said the former governor touched her inappropriately several times and made several inappropriate and offensive comments.

The inclusion of their experiences should not belittle the other reports, but rather illustrate the nature of Cuomo’s behavior, the report says, adding, “everyone” [account] independently meets the definition of sexual harassment under New York State law. ”

In addition, Cuomo was well aware of the definition of sexual harassment – as he was confirmed in his affidavit to the Attorney General.

The gathering also noted that Commisso’s schedule of events – which Cuomo and his personal attorney Rita Glavin had questioned when inconsistent across different interviews and recordings – did not invalidate her report and that Commisso “consistently described the conduct of the former governor towards her in all material respects”.

Cuomo’s denial of some of the allegations and his arguments against some of the others – that his intentions were not malicious – do not negate the evidence that they occurred, according to the report. Its staff and former employees also do not question the reputation or motivation of the women who made the allegations, the report added.

“Such an approach obscures all of the former governor’s behavior towards women, not just in the executive chamber but more broadly in the workplace and even towards his constituents,” the report said.

“We have reviewed the former governor’s contestations against the allegations, and nothing in his voluminous submissions can break the overwhelming evidence of his wrongdoing,” it said.

Deaths in the nursing home: The report also backed up the findings of various other research that the Cuomo government underestimated the number of deaths in nursing homes in the first few months of the pandemic.

The administration only took into account the number of deaths of people who died in nursing homes and left out those who contracted Covid as residents but died in other facilities. The count came at a time when Cuomo was criticized for his decision to instruct nursing homes to admit Covid-positive patients.

“The evidence obtained during our investigation shows that while the [Department of Health] The report, published under the auspices of the DOH, has been fundamentally revised by the Executive Chamber and is primarily intended to counter criticism of former Governor Cuomo’s policy that nursing homes should re-admit residents diagnosed with COVID-19, ”the report concludes.

The report of the assembly did not delve deeply into the causes and effects of Cuomo’s nursing home policies, saying that he was not within his mandate and would be outside of their particular qualifications. It also noted that some of the actions taken at the time “were carried out in the context of a once-in-a-century event that was fast moving and posed significant challenges”.

What’s next: The assembly leadership has repeatedly made it clear that it has no plans for impeachment proceedings against the ex-governor. The report pointed to an 1853 Judicial Committee memo arguing that it was not empowered to continue a formal trial.

This memo made “it is clear from the provisions of the constitution that the person must be in office at the time of impeachment”.[,]’since the Constitution’ only provides two types of punishment. . . Removal from office or removal and disqualification from office; in both cases, the person must be in office, since in both cases a dismissal is being considered, which can only be done if the person is in office, “said the report published on Monday.

(This 1853 memo, in particular, is not necessarily binding. Its conclusion on whether a governor could be charged with an offense before taking office was ignored by the legislature when it deposed then Governor William Sulzer in 1913.)

However, members of the congregation have repeatedly said that they intend to share their findings with officials who may take other action against Cuomo.

“The committee has provided law enforcement agencies with relevant information from its investigation and will continue to work together on such investigations,” the sexual harassment report reads.

The congregation also said that despite their requests, they did not intend to share any underlying evidence with the ex-governor’s attorney.

“Faced with impeachment proceedings, the former governor chose to resign, not to contest the available evidence and to confront witnesses in this legal forum. Since he has missed this opportunity, he is not entitled to any further evidence from this committee, ”the report said.

Cuomo’s team said they were reviewing the report and did not comment immediately.

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