State investigators are reportedly looking into whether Governor Andrew Cuomo and his aides committed a crime by retaliating against his sexual harassment accusers.
New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) is conducting a wide-ranging probe of Cuomo and his inner circle and their actions following the initial allegation.
“Several witnesses said state investigators were particularly focused on the question of retaliation and whether the governor or any of the aides around him broke any laws or state rules in response to women coming forward,” according to the Washington Post.
Of interest is whether or not Cuomo or his aides illegally released a personnel file of Lindsey Boylan, a former aide who was the first to accuse the Democrat governor of sexual misconduct.
Boylan has claimed that Cuomo forcibly kissed her on the lips and suggested “let’s play strip poker.”
A total of 10 women have accused Cuomo of some form of sexual misconduct, the most serious of which involved an unnamed female aide who said the governor groped her at the Executive Mansion in November.
New York AG is probing if Gov. Cuomo committed a CRIME by retaliating against his sex harassment accusers including releasing personnel file of woman that branded her a bully https://t.co/DZx6RwyGLt via @MailOnline
— Fredric U. Dicker (@fud31) June 9, 2021
Did Cuomo Commit A Crime By Retaliating Against Accuser?
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Following Boylan’s bombshell accusations which kicked off several other reports, Cuomo’s office released some of her personnel files to the media.
The Washington Post reports:
After Lindsey Boylan, a former state employee, first alleged harassment by the governor on Twitter late last year, he talked with advisers about how to handle the allegations, which he has denied, according to people familiar with the conversations. The governor’s office ultimately released to reporters some of Boylan’s personnel records, which showed complaints against her as a state employee, according to people familiar with the decision.
The newspaper cites sources familiar with the line of questioning by investigators as saying they are probing “planned or actual retaliation against other women who came forward or were considering coming forward.”
“‘[Cuomo] leak may have violated..laws..private use of gov’t property—that personnel file—all for the personal use of defending Cuomo against allegations harmful to him..There is no legit way to characterize that. It’s just an abuse of power’” & a felony crime which means time. https://t.co/t3MdKmQyes
— Ed Cox (@ChairmanEdCox) March 13, 2021
The file was released following a meeting with advisers – a meeting that Cuomo denies having – on how to handle the allegations leveled against him.
It shows Boylan being labeled a bully and accusing her of speaking to co-workers as if they were children.
Boylan claims the release was part of a smear campaign to discredit her claims.
Steve Cohen was in the room where Cuomo folks decided to leak a supposed personnel file on me when I spoke about abuse from our boss. Now @NYGovCuomo wants him to run Port Authority.
This is all so monstrous and I know history will treat it this way. I will help make it so. https://t.co/R07OeHUGAK
— Lindsey Boylan (@LindseyBoylan) June 7, 2021
Cuomo Denies Committing A Crime
In a statement to the Washington Post, Governor Cuomo’s acting counsel denies that releasing the personnel file of his accuser amounted to a crime.
“With certain limited exceptions … it is within a government entity’s discretion to share redacted employment records, including in instances when members of the media ask for such public information and when it is for the purpose of correcting inaccurate or misleading statements,” the attorney said.
It was not just brothers helping each other out.
It was about the rights of the woman who were being DISCREDITED by the governor’s top aids. https://t.co/Uxmef9vEYh
— Janice Dean (@JaniceDean) June 8, 2021
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has also been embroiled in controversy for having advised his brother on how to deal with the sexual harassment allegations, an egregious breach of journalistic standards even for that network.
Cuomo, as per multiple sources for the Post, “joined a series of conference calls that included the Democratic governor, his top aide, his communications team, lawyers and a number of outside advisers” on “how to respond to sexual harassment allegations.”
The Washington Post report links to a separate article regarding Chris Cuomo’s involvement in strategy calls but does not specifically reference him as part of the effort to release Boylan’s personnel file.
“The question is if there was a crime or not,” said Hank Sheinkopf, a Democratic strategist in New York. “Voters are willing to forgive a lot of other things if they are happy with how things are going.” https://t.co/b1NkwNHDxy
— Nick Reisman (@NickReisman) June 8, 2021
Governor Cuomo has thus far survived the many investigations and impeachment inquiries he is currently facing, though his political future remains in question.
The scandals embroiling him are wide-ranging and numerous, including:
- Forcing nursing homes to take on COVID-positive patients.
- Hiding the data on those deaths and stripping numbers from DOH reports.
- Numerous sexual misconduct allegations including a police report involving forcibly groping an aide.
- Bullying and threatening fellow lawmakers and members of the media.
- Under investigation for a $5.1 million book deal profiting off the pandemic by having aides write and edit portions using state resources.
- Provided priority COVID-19 testing for his family and associates, also allegedly using state resources.
Still, the Washington Post report states that some in his inner circle believe “the attorney general’s office will release a report that does not include criminal charges” with respect to the sexual harassment scandal.
They do, however, fear being portrayed as “an unprofessional office where women were judged on their looks and subordinates were subjected to demeaning comments.”
James has interviewed at least a dozen current and former staff members as part of the sexual harassment probe.
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