ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) A commission to impeach Governor Andrew Cuomo has expanded its scope to include an investigation into sexual harassment allegations Cuomo is currently facing. The Assembly Republican-led commission was established in February following Attorney General Letitia James’ report into nursing home deaths.
Two former staffers have now accused Cuomo of sexual harassment and a third woman claims the Governor acted inappropriately with her. The Governor has seemly acknowledged using language that may have made women feel uncomfortable.
On March 1, Attorney General Letitia James received a referral allowing her department to appoint an independent law firm and oversee an investigation into the allegations.
In a statement, Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay accused the New York State Legislature of an unwillingness to act on the accusations:
“We have the authority and ability to issue subpoenas, call witnesses and compel documents. What’s apparently missing is the willingness to do anything” Barclay said.
“What more do legislators need to see before we form an Impeachment Commission to begin investigations into Gov. Cuomo? We have a nursing home cover-up involving the deaths of 15,000 seniors being looked at by the FBI and U.S. Attorney. Now, multiple sexual harassment allegations against the Governor will trigger an investigation by the state Attorney General.
Where is the New York State Legislature? We have the authority and ability to issue subpoenas, call witnesses and compel documents. What’s apparently missing is the willingness to do anything.”Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay
Updating the resolution led to the creation of a new committee: “Temporary Joint Legislative Committee on Impeachment and Investigation of the State’s Response to COVID-19 in Nursing Homes and Allegations of Sexual Harassment Against the Governor.”
The committee now has 60-days to conduct its investigation before submitting its findings and recommendations to the Legislature.
It will be bi-partisan and consist of eight members, with two appointees from each legislative leader. The Assembly Speaker and Senate Majority Leader would jointly appoint one co-chair, while another co-chair would be named by the Minority leaders in each house.
The impeachment panel has the same powers of a legislative committee, including the ability to subpoena witnesses and compel records, correspondence and documents related to the matter being produced.
Both scandals have led to bi-partisan calls for the Governor’s resignation or impeachment.
In the wake of the recent sexual harassment allegations, multiple Democratic lawmakers have called on the Governor to resign.
Among them is Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, who said:
“The Governor should resign as long as he’s in office there’s a dark cloud moving over the Capitol and we’re not going to be able to go into budget negotiations with a person who has lost credibility.”.Angelo Santabarbara
Key Republicans questioning Cuomo’s position include; Senate Republican Leader Rob Ortt, and Senator Jim Tedisco who has called for the Governor’s resignation through both the nursing home and sexual harassment scandals.
In a press conference held on March 3, the Governor made it clear he had no intention of resigning, saying it isn’t a time for politics and that he was elected by the people of New York, not politicians, and will continue to do his job.
Barclay suggested the panel could be a way for the Democrats calling for action against Cuomo to get results.
“Over the last few weeks, a number of Democrats have produced headlines, articles and soundbites with calls for investigations or even impeachment. This resolution is a way they can actually produce results.”Assembly Minority Leader Will Barclay