In a damning report that builds on previous findings that led to the resignation of former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in August last year, a probe ordered by the state assembly identified a series of wrongdoings.
Numerous allegations are in the report (read it in full HERE), which was prepared by law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. Cuomo created a “hostile work environment,” the report found, and committed multiple sexual harassment and misconduct. The evidence was “overwhelming,” it added, citing the sources of and hundreds of thousands of documents and interviews with at least 12 women, many of them current or former state employees.
Cuomo was also found to have used state resources to write, publish and promote American crisis, a book published by Penguin Press that earned the ex-governor a $5.2 million advance. And it echoed other allegations that Cuomo was covering up the number of Covid deaths in nursing homes, even as his media fortune soared in the early phase of the pandemic.
The law firm completed the report on behalf of the meeting’s Judicial Committee. It drew from hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including photos, text messages, BlackBerry PIN messages, emails, recordings of phone calls, social media accounts, video recordings, memos, transcripts and other materials. Researchers also interviewed, fielded, or reviewed interview transcripts of more than 200 people. The investigation, which was launched last March, was intended as a pretext for impeachment proceedings, but Cuomo resigned before that could happen. New York State Attorney General Letitia James ordered an overlapping external investigation last summer, and the outcome of that report hastened Cuomo’s exit.
“This is a deeply sad chapter in New York history. I commend Chairman Charles Lavine, Judiciary Committee members and Davis Polk’s team for their hard work and dedication in completing this investigation,” said Chairman Carl Heastie. “I would also like to thank everyone who participated in all the studies for their cooperation, especially the brave women who stepped forward. As we have done throughout this process, we will continue to work with all relevant investigative bodies to provide them with the evidence we have found.”
Lavine called the report “an historic undertaking.” While it is “extremely disturbing,” he added, and “an indication of someone unfit for office,” its release will hopefully help residents of the state better understand the seriousness of the charges against Cuomo. to understand.
While the report contains substantial claims on nearly every page, those related to Cuomo’s book project are particularly striking. Discussions about the book started as early as March 19, 2020, when a Cuomo literary agent brought up the idea of a book to Penguin Random House. New York City led the way in Covid in the US, experiencing a sharp spike in infections and hospitalizations. Cuomo’s daily briefings were broadcast live and offered a more informed dose of updates than former President Donald Trump, who only later began White House briefings and largely indicated in his early comments in his early weeks that the coronavirus would “disappear” soon.
Cuomo had been given the go-ahead to proceed with the book by a state ethics committee, but the committee ruled that no government money could be used to deliver a manuscript. Contrary to the commission’s order, members of the governor’s office exchanged hundreds of emails about the book in 2020.
“A senior state official called working on the Book no different than any other assignment he received from the Executive Chamber during Covid,” the report said. “The state official explained that book-related assignments were given by superiors and expected to be completed like any other task.”
Investigators did not interview the former governor, relying instead on statements and writings from Cuomo and his legal counsel. Cuomo had maintained his innocence through the middle months of 2021 as the investigation progressed.