ALBANY, N.Y. (WROC) — Former governor Andrew Cuomo’s legal team announced Wednesday the submission of an application to alter Attorney General Letitia James’ sexual harassment report about him.
Rita Glavin, the attorney for the former governor, says James viewed the allegations through a bias lens due to her own political ambitions, including the potential of her being a Democratic primary opponent against Cuomo in 2022’s gubernatorial election.
“The independent investigation has concluded that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple woman and in doing so violated federal and state law,” James said in August. “Specifically the investigation found that Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments.”
The nearly five-month investigation, conducted by two outside lawyers who spoke to 179 people, found that the Cuomo administration was a “hostile work environment” and that it was “rife with fear and intimidation.”
People interviewed for the attorney general’s report included complainants, current and former members of the executive chamber, New York State Police troopers, additional state employees and others who interacted regularly with the governor. They also reviewed more than 74,000 piece of evidence, including documents, emails, text messages, audio files and pictures.
Wednesday, Glavin announced that Cuomo’s legal team has submitted an application to change the findings of the attorney general’s report.
“Today we are submitting to attorneys, an application to correct, amend and supplement the August 3rd accusation of sexual abuse against the governor,” Glavin said. “First of all, the application must be considered by a truly independent reviewer. It is our position that the attorney general cannot consider the application because she is not to be involved into allegations against the governor.
“The August 3rd report is materially misleading, it is flawed, and it is unreliable,” Glavin said. “It misled the public, but it also is relied upon in civil lawsuits that defendants have said they plan to file. The report prejudiced the governor, overturned the election, and disenfranchised 3.6 million votes. It has to be corrected.”
According to Glavin, the attorney general’s report contained “glaring material omissions and errors, regarding facts, evidence, and applicable law, as detailed in a 150-page submission with exhibits.”
Cuomo’s attorney said James was not an independent party on this investigation, due to her potential candidacy in a gubernatorial primary against Cuomo.
“We are asking the attorney general to appoint an independent group to oversee the report and to fairly consider our application to amend and supplement that report,” Glavin said.
Despite his resignation announcement, the governor challenged the findings of the sexual harassment report.
“The report said I sexually harassed 11 women: That was the headline people heard and saw and reacted to,” Gov. Cuomo said in August. “The reaction was outrage, as it should have been. However, it was also false.”
The governor said during his resignation announcement there were are “serious” issues and flaws with how the report was compiled and presented, saying there is a difference between alleged improper conduct and sexual harassment.
“This is not to say there are not 11 women who I truly offended,” Gov. Cuomo said. “There are, and for that I deeply apologize. I thought a hug, or putting my arm around a staffer while taking a picture, but some found it to be too friendly. I kissed a woman on the cheek at a wedding and I thought it to be nice, but she found it to be too aggressive. Women found it dated and offensive. I said on national TV to a woman, to a doctor wearing PPE, and giving me a nasal swab, I said ‘you make that gown look good.’ I was joking, obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have said it on national TV, but she found it disrespectful and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
The governor said his interactions were not meant to be taken sexually or with intimacy, but attributed his behavior to generational and cultural shifts.
“There are generational and cultural shifts that I just didn’t fully appreciate and I should have — no excuses,” Gov. Cuomo said.
The governor has consistently denied that he ever touched anyone inappropriately. Glavi also challenged the credibility of the attorney general’s report during separate August press conferences:
Regarding a separate investigation into possible wrongdoing regarding the former governor’s book on leadership during the pandemic, Glavin said New York State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli was also politically influenced and could not be objective because of his own ambitions to potentially run for governor.
Back in April, DiNapoli authorized the attorney general’s office to investigate whether improper use of state resources were used to publish the governor’s book.
“Allegations have recently emerged that public resources may have been used in the development and promotion of the governor’s book,” DiNapoli wrote in a letter to James dated April 13.
The comptroller went out to request the attorney general investigation the allegations further.
Cuomo said in April that he asked some people who he mentioned in the book to “review” it. The governor also said the money made from book sales would be revealed in the the forthcoming release of his tax return.
Promotional efforts for Gov. Cuomo’s book were halted in March following the state’s nursing home scandal, as well as allegations of sexual harassment and inappropriate behavior on behalf of the governor.
The New York Times previously released a report earlier this month that claimed Gov. Cuomo used trusted aides and junior staffers to help with the manuscript, full-scale edits and clerical work for his new book — which could possibly be a violation of state law.
That law prohibits the use of public resources for personal gain.
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, was involved in pitching the book and editing early drafts. Another top aide, Stephanie Benton, asked assistants to print portions of the draft of the book and deliver them to Cuomo at his Executive Mansion in Albany.
According to the report, Richard Azzopardi, a senior adviser to the governor, said that Ms. DeRosa and Ms. Benton volunteered on the project, which would be consistent with ethical requirements of the state.
When asked if Cuomo was considering a run for governor next year, Glavin said: “I don’t have an answer for that.”
Officials from the attorney general’s office have not immediately returned a request for comment.
Check back with News 8 WROC as we will continue to update this developing story.