The Justice Department is investigating the sexual harassment allegations against former New York governor Andrew M. Cuomo (D), the latest repercussion to stem from the sweeping report issued by the office of the state’s Democratic attorney general.
The New York Post reported Thursday that it had obtained from the state comptroller’s office a legal services contract signed in October. The contract, which the newspaper obtained through a Freedom of Information Law request, mentions other previously reported probes, including one examining Cuomo’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, and states that the Justice Department “has also undertaken an inquiry related to sexual harassment claims made against the then Governor.”
Cuomo spokesman Rich Azzopardi confirmed the existence of the investigation.
“Our understanding is that the Civil Division opened an inquiry in August based upon the AG’s politically motivated sham report and we have heard nothing since,” Azzopardi said in a statement Thursday evening.
John Marzulli, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office for the Eastern District of New York, declined to comment.
Cuomo announced Aug. 10 that he would step down as governor. He denied improperly touching women and said that those who felt uncomfortable had misinterpreted his affectionate leadership style.
Last month, a 46-page report by the New York State Assembly found “overwhelming evidence” that Cuomo engaged in sexual harassment and used state workers and resources for his memoir. The report also faulted his administration for undercounting nursing home deaths during the pandemic. Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing.
The report corroborated the stories of two of the women who say Cuomo sexually harassed them and described how his office diverted workers and resources from handling the deadly health crisis to focus on his book, for which he received $5.2 million. It also found that Cuomo directed his staff to withhold or misrepresent information “regarding the effects of COVID-19 on nursing home residents in New York.”
In October, a misdemeanor complaint was filed against Cuomo, accusing him of forcibly touching a woman in the governor’s executive mansion last year. According to the complaint, the alleged incident occurred in December 2020. It states that Cuomo “did intentionally, and for no legitimate purpose, forcibly place his hand under the blouse shirt of the victim” and “onto her intimate body part.”
Last month, an Albany judge postponed until early next year Cuomo’s arraignment in the case, after the district attorney accused the sheriff’s office of “unilaterally and inexplicably” filing a complaint without the consent of the alleged victim.
Josh Dawsey and Mariana Alfaro contributed to this report.