Former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo filed a state ethics complaint on Wednesday alleging that New York Attorney General Letitia James deliberately mishandled an investigation that found he sexually harrassed numerous state employees.
Mr Cuomo, who comes from a New York political dynasty, resigned as governor in disgrace shortly before the publication of the investigation’s findings. The investigation, led by Ms James, found that Mr Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women during his time as governor and had illegally retaliated against one former aide, Lindsey Boylen, for her allegation against him.
Now, however, Mr Cuomo is attempting to salvage his reputation as he aims for a possible political comeback. Since the beginning of the year, he has spent heavily on television advertising promoting his accomplishments, made a series of appearances at Black churches, and repeatedly criticised the treatment he received during his final months as governor.
The ethics complaint, which alleges that Ms James “cynically manipulated a legal process for personal, political gain,” takes that critique of the investigation that ultimately led to his downfall step further.
Mr Cuomo alleges that Ms James and a pair of outside lawyers who ran the investigation violated rules of professional conduct by defaming him.
“Fundamentally, the Attorney General and her investigators issued a purposefully inaccurate and misleading Report on August 3, 2021 … bombastically and repeatedly implying that I sexually harassed eleven women, even though the allegations made by most of the eleven women did not constitute sexual harassment under state or federal law, even assuming arguendo the truth of those allegations,” the complaint reads in part.
The complaint includes passages not only on the nature of the investigation, but also comments Ms James made following Mr Cuomo’s resignation.
“Serial sexual harasser Andrew Cuomo won’t even spare a house of worship from his lies … [e]ven though multiple independent investigations found his victims to be credible, Cuomo wasn’t railroaded; he quit so he wouldn’t be impeached,” the complaint quotes Ms James as saying in March of 2022. “New Yorkers are ready to move forward from this sick, pathetic man.”
Ms James briefly launched a run for governor following Mr Cuomo’s resignation, but dropped out of the race shortly thereafter and continues to serve as attorney general. She is running for re-election in November.
Though his reemergence onto the public scene stoked speculation that Mr Cuomo might try to regain his old job in this November’s gubernatorial election, Mr Cuomo himself did not attempt to run for office himself. He has hinted, however, that he is interested in running again at some point in the future.
The allegations against Mr Cuomo included groping, inappropriate remarks, and an unwanted kiss. On Wednesday, one of his accusers, Charlotte Bennett, sued him and three of his former aides in federal court.
“My career as a public servant was abruptly cut short because of Governor Cuomo’s and his top aides’ sexual harassment and retaliation against me after I complained about Governor Cuomo’s misconduct,” Ms Bennett said in a statement on Wednesday reported by The New York Times. “They must all be held accountable for their actions.”
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