New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) administration has hired high-profile defense attorney Elkan Abramowitz as the governor faces two investigations over his handling of data regarding coronavirus deaths in the state’s nursing homes and allegations of sexual harassment brought forth by former aides, according to a Monday report.
The Wall Street Journal reports:
Abramowitz, a one-time federal prosecutor, confirmed he was representing the Executive Chamber—which comprises the governor and his closest aides—in both the sexual harassment and nursing-home matters. Rich Azzopardi, a senior adviser to Mr. Cuomo, deferred comment to Mr. Abramowitz.
The Cuomo administration is under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn after the governor’s most senior advisor privately apologized to Democrat lawmakers for withholding the nursing home figures, revealing that officials “froze” due to concerns the data could “be used against” them in a Justice Department inquiry. The bombshell admission was first reported by the New York Post in February. Cuomo has denied any wrongdoing and believes no investigation if needed.
“There is nothing to investigate,” Cuomo has told reporters in response to the Post’s report. “Total death counts were always accurate, nothing was hidden from anyone but we did create the void and that created pain, and I feel very badly about that.”
If the nursing home data scandal wasn’t enough for Cuomo, the governor is under heavy bi-partisan fire after two former aides accused him of harassment in the former of unwanted advances and lewd remarks.
On Wednesday, Lindsey Boylan, the former deputy secretary for economic development and special adviser to Cuomo, alleged that the governor once attempted to kiss her on the lips. Further, Boylan claimed that Cuomo invited her to play “strip poker,” upon returning from an event in October 2017.
On Friday, Charlotte Bennett, a former health policy adviser in the Cuomo administration, told the New York Times that governor asked her inappropriate questions about her sex life. She claimed Cuomo asked her if she ever had sex with older men.
The allegations against Cuomo have lead to calls for an independent investigation from the Biden White House, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY), and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY).
“President Biden has been consistent that he believes that every woman should be heard, should be treated with respect and with dignity. Charlotte should be treated with respect and dignity. So should Lindsey. There should be an independent review looking into these allegations, and that’s certainly something he supports and we believe should move forward as quickly as possible,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union. “There should be an independent review of these allegations. They’re serious. It was hard to read that story as a woman, and that process should move forward as quickly as possible, and that’s something we all support and the president supports.
Cuomo acknowledged for the first time Sunday that some of his behavior with women “may have been insensitive or too personal,” and said he would cooperate with a sexual harassment investigation led by the state’s attorney general.
In a statement released amid mounting criticism from within his own party, the Democrat maintained he had never inappropriately touched or propositioned anyone. But he said he had teased people about their personal lives in an attempt to be “playful.”
“I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that,” he said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.