ALBANY, N.Y. (WIVB) – Republicans in the New York State Assembly introduced an impeachment resolution against Governor Andrew Cuomo on Monday. It cites “investigations by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District (of New York) regarding COVID-19 related deaths in nursing homes”, “allegations by at least four former employees of the Executive detailing pervasive sexual harassment by the Governor,” and accuses Cuomo of “willful and corrupt misconduct,” according to a copy of the resolution obtained by News 4.
In response to the resolution, Rich Azzopardi, senior advisor to Cuomo, said “There’s a job to be done and New Yorkers elected the Governor to do it, which is why he has been focused on getting as many shots in arms as possible, making sure New York is getting its fair share in Washington’s COVID relief package and working on a state budget that is due in three weeks.”
It’s just about a certainty that if the resolution were to advance in the New York State Capitol, a mass number of Democrats would have to support it. Through a spokesperson, Democratic Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie declined to comment on the impeachment resolution.
Assemblyman Pat Burke, a South Buffalo Democrat who has called on Cuomo to resign, admitted it may get to a point where impeachment proceedings should be considered, but said now is not the time.
“We cannot afford the further distractions that impeachment proceedings would bring while working through the budget and helping New Yorkers recover from the COVID-19 pandemic,” Burke said. “If the Governor does not step down, then I will await the results of (New York State Attorney General Tish) James’ investigation and make a decision on impeachment based on the findings of her report.”
On Monday, James appointed Joon Kim, a former acting U.S. Attorney, and Anne Clark, an employment discrimination attorney, to lead the investigation into Cuomo’s alleged conduct.
Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul issued a rare comment on the topic Tuesday, addressing James’ appointment of Kim and Clark.
“I am confident everyone’s voice will be heard and taken seriously,” Hochul said in a statement. “I trust the inquiry to be completed as thoroughly and expeditiously as possible. New Yorkers should be confident that through this process they will soon learn the facts.”
Should an impeachment effort take shape in the legislature, the state assembly would first vote whether to impeach or not.
“Under this provision, if the governor is impeached, then at that moment, before the proceeding is moved over to the senate for a trial, the governor becomes essentially disabled from serving in that office,” explained Jim Gardner, a professor at the University at Buffalo School of Law.
State senators and the seven court of appeals judges would comprise the court at trial. However, the New York State Constitution prescribes, “On the trial of an impeachment against the governor or lieutenant governor, neither the lieutenant governor nor the temporary president of the senate shall act as a member of the court.”
A two-thirds vote to convict would be required to remove a person from office, under the state constitution.
Chris Horvatits is an award-winning reporter who started working at WIVB in 2017. A Lancaster native, he came to Buffalo after working at stations in Rochester and Watertown. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.