In a damning report expanding on previous findings that led to the resignation last August of former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a probe ordered by the state assembly identified a range of misdeeds.
Numerous allegations are contained in the report (read it in full HERE), which was prepared by law firm Davis Polk & Wardwell. Cuomo created a “hostile work environment,” the report found, and committed multiple acts of sexual harassment and misconduct. The evidence was “overwhelming,” it added, noting its sources of and hundreds of thousands of documents and interviews with at least 12 women, many of them current or former state employees.
Cuomo also was found to have used state resources to write, publish and promote American Crisis, a book published by Penguin Press that netted the ex-governor a $5.2 million advance. And it echoed other charges that Cuomo obfuscated the number of Covid deaths in nursing homes even as his media fortunes ascended in the early phase of the pandemic.
The law firm completed the report at the behest of the assembly’s judiciary committee. It drew on hundreds of thousands of pages of documents, including photographs, texts messages, BlackBerry PIN messages, emails, recordings of phone calls, social media accounts, video recordings, memos, transcripts and other materials. Investigators also interviewed, deposed or reviewed interview transcripts from more than 200 people. Set in motion last March, the probe was intended as the pretext for impeachment proceedings, but Cuomo stepped down before that could happen. New York State Attorney General Letitia James had commissioned an overlapping outside probe last summer and the outcome of that report hastened Cuomo’s exit.
“This has been a profoundly sad chapter in New York’s history. I commend Chairman Charles Lavine, the members of the Judiciary Committee and the team at Davis Polk for their hard work and diligence in completing this investigation,” Speaker Carl Heastie said. “I also want to acknowledge everyone who participated in all of the investigations for their cooperation, particularly the brave women who stepped forward. As we have throughout this process, we will continue to cooperate with all relevant investigative bodies to provide them with the evidence we have uncovered.”
Lavine called the report “an historic undertaking.” While it is “extremely disturbing,” he added, and “indicative of someone who is not fit for office,” its release will hopefully help state residents have a better understanding of the seriousness of the allegations against Cuomo.
While the report features substantial claims on nearly every page, those pertaining to Cuomo’s book project are particularly striking. Discussions about the book began as early as March 19, 2020, when a literary agent repping Cuomo broached the idea of a book to Penguin Random House. New York City was on the leading edge of Covid in the U.S., coping with a sharp spike in infections and hospitalizations. Cuomo’s daily briefings were televised live, offering a more grounded dose of updates than former President Donald Trump, who only initiated White House briefings later and largely indicated in his comments during the initial weeks that the coronavirus would quickly “disappear.”
Cuomo had gotten the green light to proceed with the book from a state ethics panel, but the panel stipulated that government resources not be brought to bear in order to deliver a manuscript. In contradiction to the committee’s order, members of the governor’s office exchanged hundreds of emails about the book in 2020.
“One senior state official referred to work on the Book as no different from any other assignment he received from the Executive Chamber during Covid,” the report said. “The state official explained that book-related assignments were given by superiors and were expected to be completed like any other task.”
Investigators did not interview the former governor but instead relied on statements and writings by Cuomo and his legal counsel. Cuomo had maintained his innocence during the middle months of 2021 as the investigation took its course.