Albany, NY (AP) — A legislative investigation released Monday found “overwhelming evidence” that former Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually assaulted women and helped state activists prepare their book on pandemic leadership during working hours. ordered to do.
The report also found that Cuomo employees “substantially modified” State health department may report on COVID-19 deaths in nursing homes to even out statistics tarnished his reputation as a pandemic leader.
The findings, penned by a law firm appointed by the Assembly’s Judiciary Committee, were widely expected, and the sections on sexual harassment largely echo the allegations. The first was made in a report last summer by the state’s attorney general.
But it did offer some new details, most notably about the $5.2 million private deal Cuomo struck to write a book, “American Crisis: Leadership Lessons on the Pandemic.”
Cuomo Promised state ethics officers that no state resources would be used on the book, but assembly investigators at the law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell said they found evidence that the governor had spent a lot of time on the project with his staff.
“A senior state official pointed out that the assignments related to the books were given by the superiors and are expected to be completed, and the work was not voluntary,” the report said. “Another senior state official complained in a text message to a colleague that working on the book was compromising the officer’s ability to work on matters related to COVID.”
Junior and senior staff members told investigators that they were asked to do book assignments during their work day, including writing dictation, printing and distributing documents, and attending meetings with agents and publishers.
The report said a senior state official sent and received 1,000 emails about the book. The report did not name the officer, but did include details identifying him as Melissa DeRosa, his former top aide.
Responding to the report on Monday, Cuomo’s spokesman, Richard Ezzopardi, said the senior staff helping with the book did so on their personal time. As claimed in the report, he denied that junior staff were involved.
On the sexual assault allegations, Azzopardi said the assembly had relied heavily on information gathered during a “politically biased” investigation overseen by the attorney general, Letitia James, which is now running for governor.
“When all the facts are weighed fairly,” Azopardi said, none of the harassment allegations will stand.
Cuomo, a Democrat, resigned in august To avoid a possible impeachment trial.
Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Lavine, a Democrat, said the “former governor’s conduct – as shown in this report – is extremely disturbing and indicative of someone who is not a good fit for the office.”
Cuomo denies sexually harassing anyone or touching a woman inappropriately. For weeks, he has attacked the assembly’s investigations as biased and has begun to smear them.
The former governor faces a separate criminal charge, alleging that he groped the breast of a former assistant, Brittany Comiso, after she was summoned to the executive mansion on December 7, 2020.
The Assembly’s report said it had reviewed travel, phone and text messages, which back up the commisso’s account of his whereabouts on the day the attack took place.
“We have come to the conclusion that there is overwhelming evidence that the former governor was involved in sexual harassment,” the report said.
Investigators also investigated allegations that Cuomo’s office had removed references to 10,000 COVID-19 deaths among nursing home residents in a July 2020 state report to the state health department.
The report instead used a lower figure of 6,500 deaths, which did not include patients who fell ill in nursing homes but died after being transferred to hospitals and elsewhere.
“Witnesses have said that the same senior executive room officer, who served as the key point person for the book, decided that only deaths at the facility would be included in the DOH report,” the report referred to DeRosa. .
Some witnesses said that using higher numbers would distract from the overall message of the Health Department report, which was intended to defend Cuomo against allegations that the state had skewed the death toll by telling nursing homes That they cannot deny the recovery of COVID- 19 patients discharged from hospitals
Infected workers and visitors to the state were major drivers of the COVID-19 outbreak in nursing homes. Investigators at the assembly said they found no evidence to refute that finding.
Cuomo frequently issued statements promising to cooperate with assembly investigations, but investigators said he produced only limited documents over the course of about six months.
“The former governor never materially complied with the committee’s requests or cooperated with its investigation,” the report said.