A report released by the New York State Assembly found that former Governor Andrew Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment against former staffers and others, unethically utilized state employees to help write and publish his memoir of the COVID-19 pandemic, and misled the public about the impact of the virus on nursing home residents in his state.
The report, commissioned by the New York State Assembly Judiciary Committee and written by the law firm Davis Polk and Wardwell, details the allegations of sexual harassment and corruption. It also includes additional information alleging that Cuomo misled authorities on the safety standards of the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge, allowing the bridge to open despite knowing that there were safety concerns with its structural components. The report was initially intended to guide impeachment proceedings against Cuomo, but Cuomo resigned on August 10, rendering the investigation moot. The report was instead released to the public Monday.
The document begins by listing the allegations against former Governor Cuomo, along with a summary of the evidence for each charge and the investigators’ findings. First and foremost, the report deals with the charges from eleven different women who worked for or with Cuomo during his tenure. “We conclude that there is overwhelming evidence that the former Governor engaged in sexual harassment,” the report asserts. The investigators go on to detail two of the eleven allegations against Cuomo, the first by an anonymous New York State Trooper, the second by one of Cuomo’s Executive Assistants, Brittany Commisso.
“The experiences of Ms. Commisso and Trooper #1 are just two examples of the inappropriate nature of the former Governor’s conduct, and each independently satisfies the definition of sexual harassment under New York State law,” the investigators wrote. “The former Governor acknowledged his understanding of this standard in his sworn testimony before the [New York Attorney General].”
“We have reviewed the former Governor’s challenges to the Allegations, and nothing in his voluminous submissions can overcome the overwhelming evidence of his misconduct.”
The report lays out the allegations of Trooper #1, Ms. Commisso, and the ten other women against Cuomo in detail in a later section.
Investigators next address the charges that Cuomo violated state ethics rules in writing and publishing his memoir “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons from the COVID-19 Pandemic.”
“We have reviewed evidence demonstrating that, in contravention of the requirement set forth by the Joint Committee on Public Ethics (‘JCOPE”) that ‘[n]o State property, personnel or other resources may be utilized for activities associated with the book,’ the former Governor utilized the time of multiple state employees, as well as his own, to further his personal gain during a global pandemic – a time during which the former Governor touted the ‘around-the-clock’ state response to the crisis,” the report found. It alleges that “Certain senior state officials worked extensively on the Book, including attending meetings with agents and publishers, transcribing and drafting portions of the Book, coordinating the production and promotion of the Book, and participating in working sessions to review and finalize the Book.” The report alleges that one senior state official, who operated as the point person between Cuomo and the publisher, sent and received over 1000 emails between July and December 2020. The work was also done during the regular course of business in the Executive Chamber, including during regular working hours. The work was compulsory, the report alleges, and given to junior staff by their superiors, to be performed during, in some cases instead of, their ordinary course of work. Cuomo also lied about the nature of his profiting from the book, the report alleges. His contract guaranteed a $5.2 million advance, with more money to be paid once the book hit certain sales targets, but Cuomo’s public statements suggested that he would only be paid based on sales.
The report also alleges that Cuomo misrepresented information about the impact of COVID-19 on nursing home residents in New York. The investigators found that the Executive Chamber “substantially revised” a report by the New York State Department of Health, the revisions “largely intended to combat criticisms regarding former Governor Cuomo’s directive that nursing homes should readmit residents that had been diagnosed with COVID-19.” In preparing the DOH report, the investigation alleges, Executives and the State’s COVID-19 Task Force debated whether to include deaths that had occurred outside of nursing homes, or simply ones that occurred within the facilities. The published DOH report only included in-facility deaths, resulting in “a report that was not fully transparent.”
“[C]ertain witnesses have stated that a reason for including in-facility deaths only was because including the higher number would have distracted from the overall message of the DOH Report and would have also been inconsistent with data that had been publicly reported at the relevant time,” the report alleges, noting that no evidence or testimony given during the course of the investigation undermines the conclusion of the report, that COVID was introduced into nursing homes by infected staff.
You can read the full report here.