NEW YORK NOW – New York Attorney General Letitia James on Friday defended her office’s investigation into allegations that Gov. Andrew Cuomo used state resources and personnel to write his latest memoir, saying politics has nothing to do with the probe.
Her comments were in response to a statement from a Cuomo spokesperson, who said James should recuse herself from the investigation because of her potential political ambitions.
“I’m not going to respond to any personal attacks on me and/or my office,” James said. “I deal with over 1,800 employees who are professional, who come to work each and every day focusing on the law and the facts, and politics stops at the door. So, anything other than that, I ignore.”
About a month ago, State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli referred an investigation to James’ office over claims that Cuomo may have illegally used state resources while working on his book, “American Crisis,” which was released last October.
Cuomo’s been accused of using state personnel from his office to work on the book, including printing and delivering pages to him, helping with editing, and more.
His office has denied the claims, saying any work done on the book by state employees was done so voluntarily, and that state resources were not improperly used.
But, after DiNapoli made the referral, Cuomo’s office came out with a strongly worded statement against both him and James, calling the probe “Albany politics at its worst,” and suggesting that the inquiry was rooted in political interest.
“This is Albany politics at its worst — both the Comptroller and the Attorney General have spoken to people about running for Governor and it is unethical to wield criminal referral authority to further political self-interest,” a spokesman for Cuomo said at the time.
In the backdrop of that probe is the possibility that Cuomo, who’s been in office since 2011, either won’t run for a fourth term or will be removed from office sometime in the next year.
Cuomo’s been accused in recent months of several claims of sexual harassment by former and current staffers, mishandling data related to COVID-19 deaths at nursing homes for political and personal reasons, and more.
James has a separate investigation into the claims of sexual harassment, albeit that probe was ordered by Cuomo when the allegations first came to light.
But the U.S. Department of Justice is also investigating Cuomo’s handling of nursing homes, and the State Assembly is in the middle of an impeachment probe into the three-term governor. That inquiry is expected to cover each of the controversies surrounding Cuomo.
The timing of any of those probes is unclear, but James said Friday that her office wants to be as thorough as possible in its investigation into the harassment claims.
“Our investigation will conclude when it concludes,” James said. “It’s very thorough and comprehensive.”
Neither James nor DiNapoli have said publicly that they’re planning to seek the governorship in next year’s election, though James has been rumored as a top contender for the job if Cuomo is ousted.