The taxpayer will pay for the $2.5 millions in contracts Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) office has with lawyers representing him during the ongoing federal investigation over his administration’s handling of the Chinese coronavirus data in nursing homes and his alleged abuse of power in sexually harassment allegations, according to a report.
The Associated Press reported Cuomo said Wednesday the legal bill will be paid by the taxpayers. During the Chinese coronavirus pandemic, Cuomo reportedly mishandled the Empire State’s nursing home data. According to the report, the legal bills are also growing, as Cuomo has had numerous women come out alleging the governor sexually harassed and assaulted female employees, along with other women.
During the pandemic, Cuomo published a book on his own “leadership” during the pandemic – in violation of state ethics laws – while giving priority coronavirus testing to his family, according to the report.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) and the state Attorney General’s office both have launched probes into the allegations surrounding the governor. The state Assembly judiciary committee has started a separate investigation into the allegations to consider if there are grounds for the state’s assembly to impeach Cuomo.
On Wednesday, AP reported, when the governor was asked if the legal bill would be paid for “using campaign or personal funds,” Cuomo answered, “Not at this time.”
While at the Javits Convention Center in New York City, Cuomo said, “The way it works is the executive chamber has retained a counsel. … And that is a state expense. It has been in every investigation. So that’s where we are now.”
“It’s unknown how much taxpayers will end up paying in all for legal costs stemming from wide-ranging allegations against Cuomo,” AP reported.
The governor’s office did not respond to the AP when they asked for a list of all outside lawyers currently representing Cuomo and his office last week.
Any contracts with lawyers paid for by the state would need to get reviewed by State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, the report stated.
The report showed DiNapoli’s office had only received and approved one contract for lawyers:
A $2.5 million contract with the Manhattan firm of Morvillo Abramowitz Grand Iason & Anello. Partner Elkan Abramowitz is set to receive an hourly rate of $937.50, compared with $680 per hour for four other partners named in the contract.
Former federal prosecutor Rita Glavin is representing Cuomo himself on sexual harassment allegations. Cuomo’s office didn’t provide details on compensation for Glavin and additional lawyers representing the Executive Chamber in state-level probes.
Lawyers from Morvillo Abramowitz are representing the Executive Chamber in the Department of Justice’s probe, which is investigating New York’s handling of nursing home data and the publication of Cuomo’s COVID-19 book. The contract says that probe also includes “other pandemic related matters.”
Rich Azzopardi, a Cuomo spokesperson, told AP, “The administration ‘was absolutely going above and beyond to get people testing’ in the early days of the pandemic.”