NYS Attorney General Letitia James rejects Cuomo’s proposal; Cuomo’s office responds

Cuomo Under Fire

ALBANY, N.Y. (WSYR/WETM) — On Sunday, New York State Attorney General Letitia James released the following statement, calling for a referral from Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate allegations of sexual harassment.

“Allegations of sexual harassment should always be taken seriously. There must be a truly independent investigation to thoroughly review these troubling allegations against the governor, and I stand ready to oversee that investigation and make any appointments necessary. Given state law, this can only be accomplished through an official referral from the governor’s office based on State Law (§ 63-8) and must include subpoena power. I urge the governor to make this referral immediately.”

Cuomo’s office put out a press release asking the Attorney General and Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals to “jointly select an independent and qualified lawyer in private practice without political affiliation to conduct a thorough review of the matter and issue a public report.”

Letitia James responded.

“To clarify, I do not accept the governor’s proposal. The state’s Executive Law clearly gives my office the authority to investigate this matter once the governor provides a referral. While I have deep respect for Chief Judge DiFiore, I am the duly elected attorney general and it is my responsibility to carry out this task, per Executive Law. The governor must provide this referral so an independent investigation with subpoena power can be conducted.”

Another statement was put out by Beth Garvey, special counsel and senior adviser to the governor, in a press release responding to James.

The Governor’s office wants a thorough and independent review that is above reproach and beyond political interference.  Therefore, the Governor’s office has asked Attorney General Tish James to select a qualified private lawyer to do an independent review of allegations of sexual harassment.  The independent lawyer will be legally designated as a Special Independent Deputy Attorney General and granted all powers provided under Section 63(8) of the Executive Law.  As necessary, other lawyers from the appointed lawyer’s firm shall be similarly designated to assist in the review. The lawyer shall report publicly their findings.   The Governor’s office will voluntarily cooperate fully.”

James responded yet again…

“We expect to receive a 63(8) referral with subpoena power to investigate allegations of sexual harassment against the governor, in line with our demands and New York state law. The referral would be made solely to the attorney general’s office. This is not a responsibility we take lightly. We will hire a law firm, deputize them as attorneys of our office, and oversee a rigorous and independent investigation.”

Many leaders from across the state are issuing statements, as well. Click here to read those statements, as well as a statement from Cuomo’s office.

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